As much as cutting and engraving are two different laser processes, both of them have some similarities. Therefore, a cutting laser can also be applied in engraving metal.
How Can You Apply a Cutting Laser in Engraving Metal?
A cutting laser grants the operator, total control, in regards to the duration, heat output, and beam intensity. It means that it can be adjusted to work on different materials and processes. As much as cutting and engraving share some similarities, they also have notable differences. First of all, laser cutting entails making cuts into a material to create shapes or trim its size. On the other hand, engraving using lasers involves creating deep marks on elements, and it often includes tools such as barcodes.
There can also be a notable difference in the way the two processes are conducted. Laser engraving processes require the use of short kens to allow the user to make a subtle, precise spot. As a result, engraving creates a high-quality mark. Contrastingly, laser cutting requires a longer laser lens which is ideal for cutting, especially on thick materials.
In some cases, both cutting and engraving are also done on the same object. For example, car pieces can be cut and then serial numbers engraved onto them.
Types of Metals That Can be Engraved Using Lasers
Lasers are ideal for the total control they give to the user. It means that they can be adapted to work on different materials. Below are some of the metals that can be engraved using lasers.
• Stainless steel
Cutting and engraving steel is the easiest when compared to the other metals. For example, aluminium is reflective, and this poses a problem with most laser-based processes because of flashback damage. A fibre-laser is the most ideal for aluminium. Using lasers to engrave copper and brass also causes issues since both of them are conductive metals. In most cases, these two metals tend to suck the heat from a laser beam, thus rendering it useless.
For you to solve this problem, you should increase the intensity of the laser’s beam, although this method limits you regarding the thickness copper or brass that you can operate on.
What You Should Consider When Choosing Metal Engraving Lasers
Laser engraving metals that have logos, barcodes, and serial numbers are popular applications for both fibre laser systems and CO2.
Due to the factors like durability and low maintenance costs, fibre lasers are ideal for engraving metals. Besides, they produce a permanent mark with a high-contrast without affecting part integrity.
When using a CO2 laser to mark a bare metal, a spray is applied on the metal before engraving. The heat emanating from the CO2 laser helps the bare metal and the marking agent to bond, thus leading to a deep permanent mark. Additionally, CO2 lasers can be used in marking other materials such as acrylics, woods, and natural stone.
Different laser types react in varied ways when exposed to metals. As a result, you are supposed to make some considerations before deciding what to use in different engraving metals. For example, when engraving metals using a CO2 laser, more time is required because it requires coating and treating the metal using a marking agent. Furthermore, the laser should be run slowly at high configuration to allow the metal to bond with the marking agent. Sometimes, you may find that it is possible to wipe off the mark created on the metal after lasering it. In such cases, it is advisable to rerun the laser slowly using a high-power setting.
One advantage of engraving metals using a CO2 laser is that you get to create a mark on the metal’s surface without interfering with the material. Therefore, the metal’s strength and tolerance are not affected in any way. Another thing you should note is that metals that are coated, such as painted brass and anodized aluminium do not need any form of treatment before engraving.
Fibre lasers are the most preferred for engraving bare metals. They are also ideal for marking different types of brass, copper, aluminium, stainless steel, and copper, among others. Nevertheless, some materials pose challenges when you use fibre laser because of the laser wavelength it emits. In such cases, the beam can go through the transparent material and get to the engraving table, thus producing marks. For more information about metal engraving laser, please click Heat Sign.
The type of mark needed should also determine the laser type that you may use. A fibre laser has plenty of options. It involves a laser beam acting on a material’s surface by vaporizing it. The mark created is permanent.
In short, you can use a cutting laser to engrave metals such as copper, aluminium, and brass. However, it would help if you considered laser differences and metal type before choosing the engraving laser.
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