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The difference between different types of laser engravers

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With digital media taking over the world, customized products have risen in demand over the past year. Alongside this, commercial sectors and bulk manufacturers also actively look for machines that can give high value for money.

In this regard, laser engraver are the ideal tool. They not only cater to the POD industry but also benefit high-volume production houses. However, these come in a range of types depending on the laser mediums used in them and the movement method they utilize over the intended material.

To get in-depth information on which laser engravers are ideal for a specific sector, we have outlined all the details below.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Type of Laser Engraving Machine for Specific Applications

There are many varieties of laser engraving machines, each one ideally suited to a certain set of materials and purposes. Selecting the incorrect machine might lead to subpar engravings with concerns. These can include inconsistent depth, burning, and material discoloration.

Speed, power, and accuracy may all vary widely across different models of laser engravings. If the device you choose isn’t powerful enough, carving will take more time and produce lower-quality work than it might have.

On the contrary, opting for a device that’s excessively powerful for the task might be costly and useless. Apart from this, the improper use of a laser engraver might have disastrous consequences. If you want top-notch results, you need a machine that has been constructed for the substances you have in mind.

Further safety measures, such as fume extraction systems, may be required for use with specific devices. These engravers may be used to etch into a broad range of materials.

Comparison of Different Laser Engraving Machines

Comparison by Laser Type:

1. CO2 Laser Engraving Machine

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Such an engraving machine refers to a specific kind of laser engraving machine that employs a carbon dioxide laser to create a carving. These laser engraving machines are the industry standard and may be found in many organizations.

The laser beam used in such devices generally has a wavelength of 10.6 micrometers. CO2 laser engraving devices can etch into materials as thick as a few inches. The ComMarker CO2 is a prime example of a CO2 laser. It is compatible with many materials.

Working Principle

It accomplishes its engraving tasks by projecting a laser beam directly onto the intended material. The substance is heated to the point of vaporization by the laser light. With this method, a depression is made in the substance, which represents the engraving.

By adjusting the laser’s intensity and the rate at which it moves over the surface of the material, the required engraving may be achieved. Engravings of varying degrees of complexity may be made using CO2 laser engravers.

Cardboard, Acrylic, rubber, leather, and ceramics are just some of the many materials that are well-suited for CO2 laser engravers.

Typical Applications
  • A great deal of both business and organizational signage is engraved using CO2 laser engraving devices. Door, window, and wall signage, in addition to promotional banners, fall under this category.
  • Trophies and prize engravings also make use of this. Examples of such items include trophies, medals, etc.
  • Prototypes of things may be made with the use of these devices. Before going into production on a large scale, this might help check out new ideas and designs.
  • These are used for engraving medical items stents, implants, and surgical tools. These are done so that the gadgets can be tracked back to their specific manufacturers and have accurate labels.
  • Acrylic billboards can also be cut utilizing CO2 machines. CO2 has the specified capacity to cut through and engrave acrylics.
Advantages
  • These engraving tools work well on a broad range of materials.
  • These devices come available at an affordable price.
  • They are not very complicated to use.
  • CO2 laser engraving equipment may be found in a variety of output intensities and operating speeds.
Limitations
  • It’s possible that CO2 laser engravers are more time-consuming than a fiber laser engraving machine.
  • These should be used in a well-ventilated environment, since they may emit toxic fumes.

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2. Fiber Laser Engraving Machine

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Fiber lasers with high power are among the most widely used lasers currently available. These lasers are widely used in the print media and POD industries. The industry standard engraver in this respect is the ComMarker B4, which has variable power settings.

Materials that are compatible with a fiber laser engraver are metals such as stainless steel, aluminum, etc, and leather such as cowhide.

Working Principle

To permanently mark an object, a fiber laser engraving machine uses a laser beam to vaporize material off its surface. A fiber laser employs fiber optic cables to enhance the laser light, creating the laser beam. These combine a focal length lens and fiber optics to generate a laser beam with pinpoint accuracy, allowing for clean, accurate incisions. With enough heat, the substance vaporizes, leaving an indentation that serves as the engraving. Both the laser’s intensity and engraving speed may be adjusted to alter the engraving’s level.

Typical Applications
  • Circuit boards and semiconductors may be engraved for identification and labeling purposes.
  • Car components may be identified, and their production history is then recorded by engraving them with serial numbers.
  • Aerospace components, such as airplane parts and rocket engines, are often engraved for purposes of identification and quality control.
  • Customizing rings, necklaces, and bracelets with names, dates, and other meaningful engravings is possible.
  • Stents, implants, and surgical equipment might all improve by having the manufacturer and model number engraved on the item.
  • Customization of merchandise by adding a name, initials, or design via the process of fiber laser engraving is now possible.
  • Personalizing presents by engraving names or phrases on items like picture frames, watches, and knives.
  • Creating engraved nameplates for companies, groups, and people.
  • Making decorative items and home decor using artistic skills.
Advantages
  • They have a faster speed than other laser engravers.
  • They have a high precision, such as Com Marker B4 has 0.01 mm precision.
  • These have high power output and can engrave a variety of materials.
  • Very little maintenance is required for these engravers.
  • They have a long lifespan of approximately 100,000 hours.
Limitations
  • These can be more expensive than other laser engravers.
  • They can cause serious burns If not operated carefully.
  • A well-ventilated room should be used with these, as they can produce toxic fumes.
  • Expertise is required to operate such engravers.

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3. Diode Laser Engraving Machine

A type of semiconductor laser that generates a coherent light is used in a diode laser engraving machine. They require the least amount of energy to operate. These are highly effective. They also have a great working area for production. In this respect, the Q1 Diode laser engraver has a working area of 110×110 mm, which is a great option to consider.

The materials that a Diode laser engraving machine can carve are leather, plastic, and fabrics of some kind.

Working Principle

Diode lasers can produce light by triggering photon emission at a semiconductor junction. Coherent light is created and amplified due to the semiconductor material’s spectrum gaps in energy.

Marking is done by a melt and evaporation sublimation process during the laser engraving process. The laser beam’s intense output causes the substance to melt and partly vaporize before being processed. During this, a hollow area is carved into the material.

Typical Applications
  • Print-related applications of diode lasers are many. Barcode and QR code printing is normal in this.
  • Serial numbers and product labels are also one of the common applications of such engravers.
  • Wood, leather, rubber, and paper materials find their applications. Such as in the POD industry, wooden keychains for customized products can be done using this engraving machine.
Advantages
  • These are highly affordable.
  • They are generally portable and compact for ease of use.
  • They have low maintenance and buying costs.
Limitations
  • Their engraving accuracy is poor.
  • The output power of these machines does not go well with many materials.
  • These are not time-efficient and create carvings slowly.
  • Fumes are also a drawback of using such a laser, thus ventilation of the room where it is used should be optimum.

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4. YAG (Yttrium Aluminum Garnet) Laser Engraving

The technique of engraving patterns into materials using a yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG) laser is known as YAG laser engraving. Yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG) lasers are a kind of solid-state laser that uses a YAG crystal as the emission medium. YAG is a semiconductor made from an artificial crystalline solid.

It may be used as a laser crystal and as an alternative to sapphire for window applications if it is doped with rare-earth elements such as Nd, Tm, and Ce. Since YAG lasers can generate such intense light beams, they are well-suited for engraving metals, plastics, glasses, and ceramics, among others.

Working Principle

A set of optical components, including lenses and mirrors, are used in the process of employing a YAG laser for engraving. It is by directing the light of the laser onto the outermost portion of the material.

To create an engraving, a laser must first heat the material to the point where it evaporates, leaving an indent on the surface. Different depths can be created by modifying the laser engraving machine’s speed and power output. The YAG laser engraving technique is very accurate and adaptable.

Typical Applications
  • The YAG laser is used for engraving mechanical components. This includes metal and plastic items that are marked in some way to serve as identifiers or provide additional data. This aids in maintaining the integrity and traceability of manufactured components.
  • Artistic endeavors like jewelry, decorations, and wall hangings may benefit from YAG laser engraving. This is an innovative use of YAG laser engraving technology.
  • Materials for uses as varied as medical tools, electronics, and manufacturing components may all benefit from having accurate, intricate details carved into them using YAG Laser Micromachining.
Advantages
  • These have high output power which is suitable for many materials.
  • They have a high precision rate, giving users a high degree of control.
  • They are durable and can withstand heavy usage.
  • These have a high repetition rate which aids in bulk production
Limitations
  • These are some of the most expensive laser engraving machines.
  • Trained operators are required to work this engraver.
  • For thicker materials, its processing rate can slow down.

5. Ultraviolet Laser Engraving Machine

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These engravers have a laser beam that is in the ultraviolet spectrum, between 355 and 380 nm. These are typically used as a universal engraving tool. It is compatible with most materials, but it especially can engrave glass.

Due to its high price, it is generally specified for tasks that cannot be completed by other lasers. UV laser engravers may reach speeds of over 500 mm/s, making them quick and productive. It’s highly precise because its spot size for engraving is smaller.

Typically, they are used on semiconductors, glass, polymers, and other delicate materials. These put an emphasis on precision, their results are detailed and spot-on. Plastics, glass, and ceramics can all be carved using UV laser engravers.

Working Principle

The UV laser engraving machine is a technological advancement since it uses the energy of light to permanently etch patterns into a broad range of substrates. It relies on the idea of photochemical ablation, in which the substance is vaporized when its molecular bonds are torn apart by the focused laser beam. The high precision and efficiency of this method make it possible to create engravings with incredible detail.

Bonds are shattered when the laser beam moves over the surface, producing an arrangement of vaporized particles. The accuracy of the conductor guarantees an accurate reproduction of the intended design in the engraving, whether it is a fine script or image.

Typical Applications
  • Printed circuit boards with different details come under the applications of UV laser engravers.
  • Thin-walled glassware can be easily etched using such machines easily.
  • The plastic industry, especially in the commercial use and customization sector, makes use of this engraver.
Advantages
  • These are highly precise, with engraving up to a few microns in size.
  • These are extremely fast and utilized in industrial applications.
  • There is no downtime associated with this machine for cleaning etc.
  • Even with low power, they can create deep carvings, making them energy-efficient.
Limitations
  • These are more expensive than other laser engravers, making them less ideal for startup owners.
  • The ambient temperature needs to be maintained around this machine to a certain level.
  • In water-cooled versions, you need to check if the water tank is sufficient regularly.

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Comparison by Movement Method:

1. XY Axis Movement

When talking about laser engravers, the XY movement technique describes the way the laser head rotates in relation to the workpiece in the X and Y axes. Since this determines the laser engraver’s speed, accuracy, and engraving area, it is crucial to think about it carefully before making a purchase.

Some fiber laser engraving machines YAG laser engravers, and CO2 laser engravers work utilizing XY Axis movement. The laser beam on both kinds of laser engraving devices is moved in the X and Y axes to cover the whole surface of the workpiece. Due to this, the laser beam can etch intricate design patterns into the material with great accuracy. This is accomplished using a set of motors and belts that are programmed to move at certain speeds by the laser engraver’s software.

Since the laser head must be accurately placed above the workpiece, laser engraving requires XY-axis movement. This is essential for making accurate engravings. ComMarker T1 works on this principle.

  • This movement is used in automation industries to simplify tasks.
  • The 3D printing industry utilizes this movement method as it moves on both axes and varying angles.
Advantages
  • This allows for precise engravings.
  • The XY motion makes it simple to carve huge areas, hence the carving space is large. In the manufacturing sector, XY axis machines may achieve cutting lengths of several meters.
Limitations
  • XY has a slow movement speed because it requires movement. This is in contrast to vibrating mirrors, which may produce a considerable displacement and immediate refraction.
2. Galvanometer (Galvo System)

One form of movement technique for the XY axis that is utilized in laser engraving equipment is called the galvanometer (galvo) system movement method. A laser beam is spread evenly over the workpiece through 2 galvanometer mirrors. Rapid rotation of the mirrors is used to create detailed patterns. Even because galvo scanning is the quickest XY axis movement, its engraving area is often lower than that of other varieties.

The mirrors of a galvanometer are positioned on a spinning shaft and may be rapidly spun to make accurate and complex designs. When the laser is focused on the 1st galvanometer mirror, it is reflected onto the 2nd. The 2nd mirror in the galvanometer then directs the laser onto the workpiece.

Galvo scanning’s precision and speed make it well-suited for rapidly engraving complex patterns with fine detail. Fiber laser engravers, Diode laser engravers, UV laser engravers, and YAG laser engravers can potentially employ Galvo systems to increase precision and efficiency.

Typical Applications
  • The laser industry has found several uses for the galvanometer system since it was first implemented, including laser engraving, laser welding, laser cleaning.
  • Medical aesthetics industry finds use of this for preparation of various products to enhance beauty and wellness.
Advantages
  • Scanning and vector marking can be done using this movement method.
  • Its engraving speed is extremely fast, which makes it highly productive.
  • There are fewer moving parts in this system, reducing its maintenance.
  • These are of a compact nature and can fit into many laser engraving machines.
Limitations
  • Large engraving areas are hard to accomplish because of the optical system’s constraints.
  • Energy wastage is high in this because of the distance between the laser and the working surface. This renders it unsuitable for cutting.

3. Rotary Axis Engraving

Using a rotary axis, laser engraving may be performed on spherical objects. To do this, a rotating axis attachment is used to spin the item around while the laser engraves its surface. One common method of engraving jewelry, pens, cups, and other cylindrical things is on a rotary axis.

First, the item must be mounted to the rotary axis attachment. To achieve this, a chuck or equivalent clamping device is often used. When everything is in place, you may begin laser engraving. While the laser is engraving the item, the rotary axis attachment is going to spin it.

To get the best results from your engraving project, you can adjust the rotary axis attachment’s speed accordingly.

In this regard, CO2 laser engravers, Fiber laser engravers, and diode laser engravers can have rotary axis attachments. These are generally employed on cylindrical objects.

  • Spherical spice grinders in the food production sector can make use of this movement method.
Advantages
  • Precise engravings can be marked using this.
  • Frequent repositioning is possible with this system in bulk production.
  • It is easy to set up.
Limitations
  • It has a limitation of making engravings of spherical objects.
  • Rotary fixtures can only engrave materials of a specific diameter and width.
  • It is slower than engraving flat surfaced materials.

4. Combined Movement

The integration of two types of movement in one machine refers to a combined movement system in a laser engraver. It generally employs linear XY-axis movement and rotary movement. The laser machine can switch between these two attachments as per requirement. Some machines can also utilize them at one time.

CO2, Fiber, and diode laser engravers can utilize combined movement which focuses on XY-axis movement along with rotary axis movement. It can help with carving on flat and cylindrical surfaces.

  • Art installations are one of the areas where this movement method in laser engravers is used.
  • Small batches can be produced using this system.
  • Prototyping utilizes this movement method as well.
Advantages
  • Production can be increased by employing these systems in laser engraving machines, as they can cover a wide variety of areas.
  • Handling the material manually and changing its position is not generally required in this system.
  • Fine details can be carved using this method.
Limitations
  • These can get pricey as they have linear and rotary attachments in one machine.
  • This has higher maintenance than others.

Conclusion

Laser engravers have been highly sought after by big enterprises as well as startup founders because of their efficacy and speed. However, with respect to laser types and movement methods, there are a variety of laser engraving machines holding different functions. These serve in a variety of industries and have varying costs depending on attachments and usage. We hope this article highlighted all the laser engravers for your understanding effectively.

About David Lee

Hello, I'm David Lee, I'm a passionate and creative professional commercial Laser Engraver and marking specialist with a wealth of experience and a wide range of knowledge. Overthe past 10 years, I have focused on Laser Engraver and marking solutions for various commercial projects.l am sensitive to new technologies and design trends ,constantly seeking the best Laser Engraver and marking experience

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