Whether you’re an artist looking to add a personal touch to a gift or you need custom markings on an industrial scale, laser engraving, and etching are powerful tools that allow you to put your mark on any surface. The most common applications for these methods include metalwork, woodworking, glasswork, and even food processing. But how do you know which type of laser marking is best for your project? Considering your goals for the product, the material you’re working with, and the future use of the product can help you decide.
Laser Etching is a subset of laser marking that uses the same process as an engraving to mark products, but on the micro-surface level rather than cutting deeper into the material. The process works by applying a laser beam to the surface of the material, which is heated to a temperature that causes the micro-surface to melt. Upon cooling, a dark mark is left on the surface of the material. This is a quick and economical option for those wanting to mark larger quantities of products.
The key to success with etching is in the design. For etched marks to be clear and sharp, it is necessary to choose a good file. SVG files are ideal for laser marking because they can be enlarged without losing quality and can be edited in any program. They are also resolution-independent, unlike JPG or PNG images.
Using image editing software like Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW can make designing your file easy and fast. If you’re new to laser marking, it’s best to run a test on scrap material before running your final piece. This will give you a chance to assess the results and adjust the power, resolution, or other miscellaneous settings of your laser machine.
Another factor to consider when choosing a laser marker is the ease of connecting it to your computer and other devices. Some laser engravers are plug-and-play with USB, while others may require a more complex Wi-Fi setup. In addition, some laser markers come with slots for add-ons like air pumps for fume extraction or rotary attachments for engraving cylindrical surfaces. If you anticipate diverse projects, then these features can be worth the extra investment. Lastly, be sure to choose a laser marker that’s optimized for your application and has the appropriate level of safety and control systems. Talking to a laser expert can help you define your specific needs.