When it comes to creating high-quality art and industrial products, there are few techniques more effective than co2 laser engraving. Those who are considering purchasing their first laser engraving machine may be interested in learning a bit more about what, exactly, the process entails, though. Read on to learn about different applications and how lasers can help business owners create better products.
Co2 lasers are effective for engraving a wide variety of materials, from cork and wood to glass, fiberglass, many plastics, rubber, and more. The only materials that can’t be engraved using co2 lasers are exceptionally reflective materials like metals, which can be cut more efficiently using a fiber laser.
There are several components that are common to every co2 laser: the controller, the laser beam, and the work surface. Two different types of laser machines are available. One uses laser optics to move over the surface to be engraved, while the other moves the surface itself, allowing the laser optics to remain stationary; some laser engravers even feature moving laser beams and surfaces for added versatility.
The movement of the surface or laser optic system is programmed into the machine’s controller via a computer. Factors such as speed, movement, direction, and intensity can all be programmed along with the pattern or design of the engraving itself. The software designed for laser engraving is user-friendly and simple, allowing just about anybody to take advantage of these advanced technologies.
Once programmed, the laser engraver will use a process known as ablation to erode away parts of the material’s surface, vaporizing them as it moves. The vaporization process is the result of repetitive high-intensity energy pulses, meaning that heat production is actually quite minimal and vaporization is instantaneous.
The most common application for laser engraving is woodworking. Lasers are particularly helpful to woodworkers who want to produce high-quality and consistent results using wood containing high amounts of resin. However, many craftsmen also use this technology to create jewelry and other decorative products.
In terms of industrial applications, laser technology has been in use for decades. The co2 laser was first introduced in the 1970s and was quickly adopted as an industry standard thanks to its consistency and accuracy.