Whether you are a skilled engineer or a novice, learning to use a laser engraver properly to avoid pitfalls and mistakes takes time and experience.
With that in mind, let's talk about the five most common mistakes in laser engraving and ways to avoid them in future projects.
Mistake #1: Engraving fabric, but the laser tends to burn through the material
The first step in avoiding burning fabric with a laser engraving/cutting machine is to understand which fabrics can withstand the process and at what temperature. Stronger fabrics such as denim, canvas and leather can withstand higher power settings during the engraving process. However, for delicate fabrics, the speed and power settings to start with are very important. These initial settings can be tested on some alternate material first, and if the fabric can withstand it, increase the power, and if not, decrease the power, after repeated testing until the desired result is obtained.
If you are engraving directly on the garment, then lower the dots per inch (DPI) when engraving. The higher the DPI, the more material will be removed. Lower DPI engraving helps ensure that the laser only slightly evaporates the top layer and does not completely burn through the fabric. Most fabric engraving works well at 150-300 DPI.
Mistake #2: Acrylic does not produce cold, white engraving
Cast acrylic sheets and objects are made of liquid acrylic and then poured into molds to be set into various shapes and sizes. This type of acrylic is great for engraving because it turns a cold white color when engraved, making it suitable for trophies. It can be laser cut and does not give the piece a flame polished edge.
Another type of acrylic used for laser engraving is called extruded acrylic, which is formed by machine into sheets. Extruded acrylic is usually cheaper than cast acrylic because it is formed by high-volume manufacturing techniques. However, it does not have the same laser engraving results. This acrylic cuts cleanly and smoothly, producing flame-polished edges; however, when engraved, it does not produce a frosted appearance, but rather a crisp engraving. Therefore, when you are going to laser engraving and cutting acrylic ,you need to confirm what kind of effect you want and pick the right type of acrylic.
Mistake 3: Inconsistent glass engraving
Usually, when you laser engraving and cutting glass, it will damage the surface and the broken glass surface will produce a frosted appearance that may become rough and shattered depending on the type of glass being engraved.
To produce a smooth frosted finish, try a combination of one or more of the following techniques.
- Use a lower resolution
- Change the black in the graphic to 80% black.
- Using a thin piece of wet newspaper or paper towel in the engraved area helps dissipate heat
- Use a paper towel to apply a thin layer of liquid detergent to the area to be engraved to dissipate heat.
- If there are glass fragments after carving, you can use a low temperature hair dryer to blow it and wipe it again with a Pasteurized cloth.
Mistake #4: Wood carving produces different results at the same settings
Wood is one of the best and most popular materials for lasers, not only because it can be easily cut, but also because the engraving results are very good and easy to operate.
However, different woods will produce different results in laser engraving and cutting. Lighter woods, such as cherry or maple, create a nice contrast where the laser burns off the wood, while denser woods require higher laser power to cut or engrave to operate.
The following are some tips when engraving with wood:#What you need to know about laser engraving on Wood?
- Maple and Alder are some of the most popular woods for carving.
- Bare wood engraving produces smoke and debris during the process that can become embedded in the wood grain. To reduce this effect, always carve from the bottom up - this helps to draw any smoke away from the carving.
- When engraving stained wood, use a damp cloth to wipe away excess smoke and debris from the surface of the wood after engraving.
Mistake #5: The laser engraver doesn't perform as fast anymore
Clean your engraver regularly. A clean engraver will minimize engraving defects.
We recommend checking the optics (lenses and mirrors) in your laser weekly and cleaning them as needed. If you regularly cut materials that produce more residue, such as wood or acrylic, then you will need to clean more frequently. Typically, optics are clear gold, bright and shiny. If they are cloudy or have smudges or debris, they need to be cleaned promptly.
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