Laser cutting, engraving and marking services have become very popular for both individuals and companies of all industries because of their fast, precise and cost-effective qualities.
Our CO2 laser machine is from the Trotec family, which is a well-known laser machine manufacturer and highly-regarded as the leader in the industry.
The laser process is a laser beam which is emitted from a 'laser tube' and reflected by several mirrors into the 'laser head' (like a periscope.) The laser head contains a lens which focuses the beam onto the material surface for cutting or engraving.
The 'kerf' refers to how much of the material the laser takes away when cutting through, eg. the width of the groove made whilst cutting. This will vary on each material and is also dependent on the laser beam tolerance.
Laser light can be highly collimated by using a focus lens. A very high energy density is generated in the focus of the laser beam, which is used for melting or evaporating material.
Using suitable optics (mirrors), laser light can be directed and reflected, without any deterioration in strength even over considerable distances. Positioning systems (laser plotters) or galvanometer scanners are used as movement systems, resulting in a universal and wear-free tool (since the laser beam will never become blunt) - info taken from Trotec.
LASER CUTTING PROCESS
Laser cutting is a method of cutting out detailed designs quickly, precisely and effortlessly from a variety of materials, using design software to guide it.
The laser beam is fired within the machine, which hits the surface of the material and heats it so strongly that it melts or completely vaporises. The cutting process begins once the laser beam has completely pierced the material and follows a geometry path which separates the material causing the 'cut'.
One of the main advantages of laser cutting is the accuracy of detailed cutting, which scissors or knife simply cannot achieve. The speed of laser cutting is also a great benefit, especially when large quantities are to be achieved.
Unfortunately, our laser machine cannot cut metals or hard materials such as glass; but they can be laser engraved/marked with amazing results.
LASER 'VECTOR' ENGRAVING PROCESS
Vector engraving is a method of 'marking' or 'scoring' a material surface.
Much like the laser cutting process, the laser head follows the geometry path of a design; and by adjusting the laser settings such as power and speed, the material is 'scored' instead of cut.
Vector engraving is perfect for projects where a lot of fine details are to be engraved, as the engraving produces just a single line. It can also be used to add 'kiss-cuts' and score lines to card and paper.
One of the main advantages of vector engraving is that it's quicker than normal engraving (aka raster engraving – see below) making it cheaper too.
LASER 'RASTER' ENGRAVING PROCESS
Laser engraving (or 'etching' as it's also known) is a quick and accurate method of permanently marking any design onto many different materials.
Engraving is a non-contact process which means fragile materials such as glass can easily be engraved.
The laser beam moves from left to right (just like a printer) down the object and heats the material to such a degree that it burns or vaporises the material away, leaving the design showing.
Raster engraving is used for large-area applications like filled letters, images, stamps or wood engraving.
LASER METAL MARKING PROCESS
Metal marking is method that involves the basic raster laser engraving process and a marking compound chemical.
The chemical is sprayed onto the metal surface. The laser beam heats it up, following the design pattern, line by line, heating it to a very high temperature, which causes the compound to fuse with the surface. Once cleaned, the compound has turned the design black on the surface.
Unfortunately, surface depths cannot be achieved with this method.
This process is mostly used for metal engraving, but it can work well on other hard materials such as ceramic, marble and stone.