Laser etching is a process whereby a laser imprints an image or pattern permanently into a solid material. The etching is done using a special laser etching machine with an excimer laser. Educational institutions are finding more students interested in learning laser cutter technology as well whether for model making, or even human skin or eyes.
Lasers are common in LASIK eye surgery and consists of an intense, highly powerful ultraviolet laser beam. The method is called laser ablation and involves etching the image with virtually no heat and in as much detail as possible. The laser used does not actually burn the image into the solid material as with engraving, it merely dissolves portions of the material as the short, quick pulse of the laser passes over it. This means that you can etch very intricate patterns and images like photographs into wood, glass, acrylic and more.
Laser Etching Machine
A laser etching machine utilizes various different lasers and laser etching equipment, such as different size lenses, than that of other engraving machines in order to carefully render an image without causing any damage to the surrounding material. There are different machines that can be used for different materials, but many high powered options can provide the ideal etching solution for any material, including glass, acrylic, wood, metal, leather and more. Boss Laser offers machinery for laser hobbyists, schools, and larger industry. Engraving machines don’t just cut materials. They can also permanently mark and etch items where there is little to no material being removed. Finding a top laser etching machine is easy if you look online of course. However, never under estimate the value of technical support. Long term this can make your machine easy or a real headache. These can range from smaller hobby machines to the larger, commercial machines.
The most important things to ask about when shopping for a top laser etching machine are the warranty details, which should also include replacement parts, the price and the operation. Understand what repair costs will be as you will being paying for repair or replacement costs. Recommended companies offering laser etchers are Rabbit, Jamieson, Universal, and https://www.bosslaser.com. Also, both Trotec and Epilog Laser offer great laser etchers, but keep in mind with their machines there may likely be long term costs associated with maintaining an RF laser tube. You also need to make sure that the machine is easy to operate with various built in functions and easily programmable software. Depending on what you require the laser etching machine for, you can get high powered ones to create many objects in a short space of time, or a slower, more precise one for creating one-of-a-kind items. for reviews on laser cutting and etching machinery see full spectrum laser. Of course other companies offer more sophisticated options and material processing but FS is known for hobby laser etchers.
Here is a pretty interesting Instructable on laser etching metal:
Laser Glass Etching
In laser glass etching, an image is created in 3D using specialized software which is then converted into X, Y, and Z coordinates ready to be etched into a solid block of acrylic or glass. This requires the use of an ND:YAG laser which creates micro fractures, also known as cloud points. Aside from the 3D etching sub surface laser process, laser glass etching can also be performed on flat glass objects, or on cylindrical objects like wine glasses, where a rotary attachment is required. The laser will use a depth of field to ensure the correct focal point onto the item being etched, giving you a clean, clear image that has a frosty appearance. With laser glass etching it is recommended that you use a cheap glass that has no metal additives.
Laser Etching Wood
Wood is notoriously difficult to etch, as there are so many different types of wood with varying porosities and colors. Obviously the lighter the wood, the better, with the top three choices being Alder, Cherry, and Pacific Coast Maple. Aside from being light, they also have the highest concentration of natural resin, which gives the image its dark shades as the image is burned. Wood that contains a lot of glue like OSB is obviously a problem for achieving a ‘clean’ etch due to the fact that glue will burn. Also, there are instances with certain tree species being cut down during the winter season which causes pale stripes to surface in the wood where there is not enough resin, as the rest of the wood. This can ruin laser etching wood photo artworks. Similarly, some woods can streak quite a lot, which is not desired for any photographic wood etchings or artwork. With laser etching, the best effects are always achieved using an image with high contrasts in the gray scale copy. The best thing to do with any laser etched wood product is to test out the piece of wood first, by engraving the back of it. Usually companies engrave their logo or an emblem on the back to test the wood.
CO2 Laser Etcher and Cutters in Education
We are seeing more high schools, colleges and Universities (and even libraries now) buying state of the art laser cutting machines for students to rent by the hour. Laser machines offer a great opportunity for students to learn the physics and science behind laser technology as well as how to use common graphic and drawing software like AutoCAD, Photoshop, CorelDraw, not to mention the laser interface. Best thing about this machinery is that the learning happens underneath all the fun. Students are really enjoying the design and creative aspect that lasers offer. One of the countries leading Universities recently purchased a Boss Laser cutter.
Laser Etching Machine Prices
There are many different types of laser etching machines, and various suppliers such as Trotec, Jamieson Laser, Epilog Laser, Full Spectrum Laser, and Universal laser to name a few. With the price of the machine depending on the quality of the machine, the size, and the type of laser used. Laser etching machine prices can range from around $7000 to $28,000 depending on the list of features and functions. You can also find great quality used laser etching machines which might be older models, but that still get the job done. Depending on what you are wanting to etch, you can find 3d laser etching machines as well but its best to stick with a company offering reputable technical support. As these machines can be labor intense.
So, if you are looking to create intricate, brilliant works of art, which can include your own drawings, photos, or any image of your choice, some of the best options include using quality machines and equipment to create laser etching wood or laser glass etching items. Of course you can find really cheap machines from companies that pop up almost out of the wood work. Hurricane Lasers was forced to close its doors and was under investigation. One of their alias’ is Laser Depot USA.
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