Laser engraving is a very precise craft. It takes acute finesse and skilled accuracy to bring about the desired result. No matter how experienced the artisan or worker may be, it requires constant attention to details and the regulation of a sophisticated machine. It is no wonder that laser engraving is a subtle piece of technical art which requires the latest equipment and computers to make the artisan proud of his creation. However, like any other skill in tradecraft, this job takes a lot of the artisan/designer operating on it. A single mistake can cost the entire production to be disqualified by the customer. Let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Laser Burning Through Engraving Material
When it comes to laser engraving on garments and fabrics, you need to be extra careful. Sturdier fabrics tend to take the beating quite well but the more delicate varieties hardly withstand the heated assault. Try using higher laser power settings on base materials like denim, canvas, and leather. In case of less robust fabrics, optimize laser settings with high speed and low power settings. This will get you the desired results without burning through costly base materials. Like any other craft, practice engraving on spare materials until you get what you want. Technically speaking, optimum engraving can be obtained by lowering of DPI (dots per inch) value; this causes just the right amount of fabric to be vaporized without burning a hole in the fabric.
2. Acrylic & Frosty White Engraving
If you wish for the correct liquid molding, you should choose the right category of acrylic. There are 2 types of acrylic available that produce 2 different types of finished products, having somewhat different outlook. Cast acrylic is poured into molds which can be set into various shapes/sizes. It is the choice acrylic for creating awards and plaques, which gives a final flame-polished edge. The extruded acrylic, on the hand, is less expensive because it is more mass-produced but does not give the same frosted finish as the former. It reacts differently with the laser than the cast acrylic; so care must be taken before sitting down to laser engraving with acrylic.
3. Irregular Glass Engraving
When you are about to embark on laser engraving on glass surface make sure that you have the correct precision in you. Glass engraving can be extra difficult given that the quality of engraving depends on the glass itself. If the product is not good or genuine, the laser beam will fracture the surface, making a chipped-off appearance but otherwise, leave the glass surface intact. Forget the frosty effect; you might be left with a cracked articled.
To obtain the desired frosty finish you can try several methods, such as using a lower resolution (approx. 300 DPI), changing graphic reading to 80% black, applying a thin layer of liquid soap on the engraving area ( best homely way to dissipate heat), or use Jarvis Dithering with your machine for laser engraving.
4. Wood Engraving- Same Setting, Different Results
Wood is the best natural laserable base material for engraving. It produces the most beautiful designs with relative ease. The quality of engraving depends on the quality of the wood material. Dense wood requires greater laser power to cut away the wood than the lighter woods. grain density is an important factor while working with wood engraving. Cherry, Alder, Walnut, and Maple produce very uniform engravings while oak produces rough non-uniform engravings. The former produces a rich contrast with its surrounding itself. The smoke and debris produced during embedding can tend to be a problem; to remove this effect, try engraving from bottom to the top- this always keeps smoke away from the engraving.
5. A Clean Machine Is Absolutely Necessary
Always keep the machinery clean. Have a scheduled inspection of the lenses and mirrors, with the removal of cutting materials to enhance performance. If the optics have lost their golden luster and look dull, it is time for a cleanup.