Laser engraving got it’s start in the early sixties when scientists discovered they could create a light source, focus it’s energy and yet have a tool powerful enough to affect a variety of materials. If you’ve heard the term laser etching it’s basically just another name for laser engraving. In today’s engraving industry, CO2 lasers, which are named for the gasses used to create the light source, are the tools of choice.
Like many inventions of modern times, lasers came out of a laboratory. They ca be used to engrave/mark almost all materials. Sometimes laser marking is referred to as laser etching however unlike conventional etching it needs no masks or chemicals.
Marking is the most favored method when one wants permanency or aesthetics. Etching is the process of marking material without cutting all the way through using reduced power. A laser works quite well for cutting acrylic (Plexiglas), PETG, thin polycarbonates (Mylar), styrene expanded PVC (Sintra), wood, paper and fabric. Engraving of graphite is a very clean operation.
Etching makes a permanent message on an laser engraving machine in-process or finished component. The ability to laser-cut complex profiles can totally eliminate the need for additional operations, making the cutting very economical.
Marking of glass by CO2 lasers while moving can be an excellent addition for industrial environments and applications for glass marking. And when used to mark or etch glass and quartz replace traditional methods – these include sand blasting, ink pad printing, and etching. They can also provide excellent results for marking glass and provide great reductions in operating costs and cost of supplies.
Drawings can be converted into the correct format for laser marking or directly into a variety of formats including JPEG, Adobe- Illustrator, Corel Draw and AutoCAD to name just a few. Marking services can be used for hundreds of applications from computer keyboards to special promotional gifts. Products include wedding giveaways, nametags, table nameplates, engraving of trophies, laser wood engraving, etc. Because no inks are used it’s permanent and the process is environmentally-friendly.
Today the engraving can be used for most jobs that are currently being carried out by the conventional industrial engravers. Laser machines and systems are used in a variety of applications and industries including the medical device industry, aerospace, manufacturing, automotive, pharmaceutical, and electronic industry.
Finally there are no consumables so the operating costs are minimal, and the laser system, if properly exhausted, runs clean, so expensive cleanup or by-product disposal is not necessary. Today laser engraving, cutting and marking is a viable and versatile technology that is being used by many engravers to improve productivity, add more available services to their customers and increase profits.