Many people have discarded the more tedious traditional ways of cutting and engraving for the most recent laser-cutting technology. A popular reason behind this massive migration is the high accuracy and speed offered by laser machines.
However, many people are unaware that cutting or carving with these machines is not a very straightforward process. First, you must set up the machine properly to get the right cut. Furthermore, you must buy the right laser cutter engraver suitable for the job and follow some strategies.
Below are 7 tips to guide you during laser cutting and engraving processes.
1. Laser cutters don’t go with all wood types
Certain woods have grains that work well with laser engravers. Examples of these wood include walnut, oak, cherry, maple, Merbau, meranti, and alder. The smaller the grains, the neater the engraving on the wood will appear.
Among the wood types we mentioned above, oak has the largest grains and is the least suitable for laser cutters. Worse still is plywood. This is because they don’t have a uniform composition, and they have air bubbles that might interfere with the laser beam.
2. The thickness of the material determines the wattage
Irrespective of whether it’s steel, wood, glass, or any other material you wish to cut or engrave, the thickness of the material determines the amount of power at which you’ll set the laser cutter. The thicker the material, the higher the required power.
For instance, wood with a quarter inch thickness will require 25-Watts of power. But you’ll need to step things up for half an inch-thick wood, usually about 100 W.
3. Masking tapes are needed when working
Using masking tape on materials before carving comes with several benefits. It helps prevent smoke and burnt dirt on your finished surface. Also, masking the edge of the material you’re carving or cutting will help to avoid damage to the material.
However, many people have complained about some types of masking tapes melting or leaving a sticky surface behind. Also, some masking tape types don’t adhere to some surfaces. We advise that you ask an expert for the most suitable masking tape type for any material you’re handling.
4. Pay attention to the machine’s lenses
A laser cutter’s lenses are one of the most important parts of the machine. As such, you must ensure that the lenses are working properly. Also, you must make sure that the lenses are correctly set. This will help you to avoid creating engravings of inferior quality.
If your lenses need attention, a common indicator is that the red laser dot coming from the machine will appear blurred. We recommend cleaning the lenses and hiring a technician to ensure that things are running properly.
5. Carving glass requires moderate speed
Many inexperienced carvers tend to keep their speed at the highest. This may work just fine if you’re working with flat glass because they have a uniform thickness. If you engrave curved glasses such as wine bottles this way, you’ll cause frosting on the softer regions of the glass. Doing this will require a high-power setting and medium speed.
6. Engrave leaded crystals with increased caution
When handling leaded crystals, more caution is required because the crystal expands at different rates. At high power, you may end up cracking or breaking the crystal. As such, we recommend setting your laser cutter to low power.
You may damage the crystal if you’re not experienced with such materials. As such, we advise you to keep a spare crystal.
7. Choose the right software
Two basic types of software are needed when carving – 2D and 3D. The latter will do the job for graphic designers in banners and logo production. For advanced engineering and mechanical projects, you need 3D software.
We recommend Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW, Inkscape, and AutoCAD for 2D carvings. For 3D engravement and cutting projects, notable software includes Solidworks, Autodesk Inventor, and Autodesk fusion.
Laser cutters are the best tools needed by any modern carver or designer. The machine gives you detailed engravings and works with various materials, including steel and the most delicate glass. However, you need to pay attention to the settings to prevent project damage.
While the power and speed settings are the most significant to look out for, ensure that the lenses and other parts of the machine are given adequate maintenance. We recommend calling a technician to help you do routine checks regularly.