Why Laser Engravers?
Here at Crooked Pine Creations, we are thrilled to announce that we are in the process of procuring our own laser engraver. Why do we need a laser engraver? It’s simple, we will be able to produce custom products at the highest quality and also personalize these products. We will be able to produce a larger range of items such as cable tags, metal placards and lamacoids to name just a few. Laser engraving is the best way for makers and manufacturers to customize and mark their products with the highest accuracy and within the most efficient time frames. Before we tell you all about all that we can do with our new laser engraver, lets first go over what laser engravers are.
What Are Laser Engravers?
Laser engravers are machines that use a concentrated beam of light that passes through a laser head mounted to a 2D CNC machine to trace out designs on a given material. These CNC machines move the laser head along the X and Y axis (forward / backward – Left /right) like an etch-a-sketch to cut out or etch a design. While laser engravers do move along the Z axis as well (typically by moving the material being engraved up and down) this is normally only used to adjust the focal point of the laser beam so it contacts the material at the ideal focal distance from the laser head. Laser Engravers are not just used for 2D applications however, and one can add a third dimension by adjusting the wattage and speed of the laser beam to either engrave deep or just lightly mark the material.
What Kind Of Laser Engravers Are Available?
Surely we have all watched enough movies to know what a laser is, but do we actually know how they work? Don’t worry, our laser is not as dangerous as some movies tend to suggest. While there are high energy laser engravers out there, they are typically used for industrial fabrication, metal cutting and scientific purposes.
For basic engraving and cutting of non-metallic softer materials, you will only come across CO2 and Fiber lasers. Typical CO2 lasers take care of 80% of your engraving needs while fiber lasers are specifically designed to engrave metals and mark most engineered plastics. Brace yourself, I am about to get a little technical in the next couple sections!
CO2 Laser Engravers
CO2 Lasers, in the most basic form, consist of a tube, encased by reflective mirrors, that is filled with Nitrogen, Carbon Dioxide and Helium gas. When the Nitrogen is excited by electrons, it vibrates at a high frequency and collides with the CO2 transferring some of this energy to the CO2 molecules. This puts the system into a state of population inversion, where the majority of the particles in the tube are excited. The nitrogen then collides with the colder helium molecules causing the nitrogen to release energy in the form of photons. The photons resonate within the tube, reflecting off of the mirrors until it has enough energy to pass through one slightly less reflective mirror located on one end of the tube. This beam of light is reflected through the laser head and passed through a lens with a determined focal distance and into the material being engraved or cut. The higher the wattage that excites the gas, the more intense the beam of light will be, resulting in deeper engraving. Likewise the longer the laser lingers in one location or the slower it travels, the deeper it will cut into the material. CO2 lasers are one of the most efficient laser technologies with input to output ratios of up to 20%, and are also capable of producing some of the most powerful lasers up to 1000 Watts. Most conventional laser engravers range between 20 and 120 Watts.
Fiber Laser Engravers
Fiber Laser engravers are typically used for metal engraving or annealing purposes. In simple terms, the fiber laser marks a material by drawing the carbon within it to the surface, and cuts or engraves the material by applying more power to sublimate the material to a determined depth.
The process of generating a laser beam using fibers is quite different from that of the CO2 laser. A diode laser pump is used to pump photons at a certain wavelength through a tube (Fiber) that consists of multiple refractive mediums. Using Snell’s law, certain mediums are chosen and placed adjacent to each other to ensure the photons are eventually concentrated to the center “Fiber” of the tube. The active medium in the middle of the fiber laser is an optic fiber that has been doped in various rare-earth elements such as Erbium. The doping of the fiber with Erbium allows for example a wavelength of 980nm to decay to a meta-stable equivalent of 1550nm, allowing a high quality laser to be produced from a more economically viable diode laser pump. Increased wattages are used to drive higher energy through the diode laser pumps to effectively engrave deeper or pull more carbon to the surface of a material. While fiber lasers are available up to an extremely high 6000 Watts, your typical engraving fiber laser runs around 20 – 30 watts for basic metal engraving and annealing.
What Crooked Pine Creations Can Do With Our Laser Engraver
At Crooked Pine Creations, we are excited to offer our customers a full range of laser engraving services, including customization and personalization of products.
Our engraver is a 60 Watt CO2 laser, which is able to engrave and cut most materials, with the exception of some metals. However, it is very easy to use a special compound to allow the CO2 to engrave metals as well, and often creates a deep black engraving that has a very nice contrast to the material. The bed dimensions, or the maximum dimensions of the material we are able to engrave is 24″ x 12″.
Crooked Pine Creations will be able to offer an additional personalization to any of our products sold in our store. We want this experience to be as simple and fun as possible. Simply select your product, select the material you wish the product to be made from, and then choose how you want your product to be personalized. We will soon have a catalog of graphics to choose from. We will also provide a selection of fonts that can be used and will provide a guide to how many characters will fit on the chosen product. If you want something completely different, tell us the words you want, the font you want it in and upload your graphic, we will make it happen.
“Lamacoid” is the industry name for any engravable materials that have a different core colour than the exterior shell colour. for example you can have a strip of blue material but when engraved, the lettering will be white, this would be a blue shell lamacoid with a white core. Lamacoids are great for name tags, signage, equipment identifications, etc.
Company Branding includes items such as unique business cards, store displays and signs. Send us your design and we will use our materials to make your brand stand out against the competition.
Personalized and Customized Board Games
We are excited to start making unique board games for our customers. Imagine a cribbage board that takes you on a journey across the world, or a chess board that has your family crest engraved on it. We may even dream up our own board games for you to try out.
Laser Engravers can cut and etch paper and cardstock too! That means we can design and manufacture custom packaging for your products or gifts and also craft beautiful cards and invitations. We can help you set yourself apart by making something truly unique.
We’ve said it before and we will say it again, if you can imagine it, we can make it. That goes with custom artwork as well; 3D cartographic maps in a beautiful wood frame, wedding photos etched into granite or maple. These just name a few of the possibilities. We are excited to work with you to create your masterpiece.
We are really looking forward to offering our industrial customers the option to have all their cable tags, placards and safety signs created at Crooked Pine Creations. We are able to offer nice deep and contrasting engravings on our metals that are sure to last the life of your infrastructure.
Other Engraving Requests
If you want us to try something different, we are a creative company and are always ready to take on new and exciting challenges. Laser Engraving is an amazing technology with very few limitations on what can be created. We will work closely with you to ensure every detail is met to your exact specifications.