The great news: thanks to decades of developments, today’s laser machines have become so streamlined and user-friendly kids as young as ten can use them and get great results. But the bad news: expertise in laser etching still takes time and practice, and the process of trial and error can be frustrating. Helping you learn the proper use of a laser etching machine so that you can produce a great product is very important to us, so here are some of the most common mistakes in laser etching, as well as some ways you can avoid them:
Mistake #1 Expecting the Same Results on the Same Material
One of the most laser-friendly materials is wood. It can be etched easily, but various types of wood can react differently when they’re laser-etched.
Grain density can make or break the outcome of your etching. The type of wood you’re working with can suddenly change the grain density. For instance, lighter types of wood, like cherry or maple, can create a visual contrast where the laser burns away wood. Denser woods, on the other hand, need more laser power to etch.
Cherry, maple, walnut, and alder have tiny veins of grain in them. Laser-etch a large square into a piece of cherry and the result would be a uniform appearance. The etched area will be smooth with slight variations in height. Oak, on the other hand, has medium to large veins. So laser-etch the same square into a piece of oak and the result might leave you with a non-uniform appearance. You’ll also notice great variations in height between the different wood.
Mistake #2 Low-Quality Glass Engravings
When the laser strikes glass, it often fractures the material’s surface but doesn’t engrave the material correctly. Although the fractured surface creates a frosted appearance, it can be rough or chipped, depending on the type of glass, which isn’t the desired result.
Instead of settling for a chipped product or one with a rough finish, take note of these suggestions to produce a smooth, beautiful outcome:
- Apply a wet, thin sheet of paper towel or newspaper on the engraving area to help dissipate heat and enhance the etching process. Just make sure that the paper has no wrinkles. Alternatively, you can dissipate heat by applying liquid dish soap.
- Use a lower resolution, preferably around 300 dots per inch (DPI). This lets you produce a better result on the glass.
- If you find shards of glass after the engraving process, polish them with a non-scratch scouring pad.
Mistake #3 Poor Results with Fabric
Not all fabrics can withstand high laser settings during engraving. So take extra care when working with delicate fabrics to prevent burning holes in them. One method: configure your laser machine at low power (around five to 10 percent), and high speed (near or at 100 percent) when working with a piece of fabric. Test these settings on a spare material to determine if your fabric can withstand the heat.
If you’re doing direct-to-garment engraving, decrease the DPI by setting it anywhere from 150 to 300. Etching at a lower DPI allows you to vaporize only the top layer of the fabric.
Mistake #4 Poor Overall Laser Etching Machine Performance
If your laser etching machine is performing poorly overall, this may be a sign it’s time to clean it. Like all kinds of design equipment, your laser etching machine needs regular maintenance.
A clean machine will produce better results. You can rely on your laser machine user manual to see its maintenance requirements. As soon as you notice the performance of your machine slipping, checking and cleaning the optics may be the initial step to resolve the issue. Here are some tips for handling the optics of your device:
- Try to inspect the optics in the laser — the lenses and mirrors — every week
- Clean them as much as possible; smudges or debris will affect your machine’s performance very quickly
- Look for wood or acrylic residue in the machine and immediately remove
- Remove any dirt right after using the laser etching machine
But by far the best way to ensure you’re getting the most out of a laser machine:
Mistake #5 Use the Right Laser Etching Machine
Start off your laser journey on the right foot by beginning with us. At AP Lazer, we have laser etching machines capable of engraving intricate designs on a variety of surfaces, including wood, bricks, stones, and other such materials. Our machines will bring your laser-etched designs to life.
Here’s our machine lineup:
- SN4836 Laser machine
- SN4024 Laser machine
- SN2816 Laser machine
- SN1812 Laser machine
Expect high-precision and a greater level of customization from our machines. Fill out our contact form today.
Why AP Lazer?
Still on the fence? Put your business growth into overdrive with these outstanding advantages we stand behind and are proud to offer:
- AP Lazer features a patented, open architecture design. The z-table/home base is completely removable, making it possible to engrave large, bulky objects that cannot be engraved by traditional “boxed-up” laser machines.
- We offer the best and most extensive tech support in the industry. Our experts are ready to help with a lifetime of 24/7 U.S based tech support. It’s important for us that you spend your time creating priceless products and diversifying your business instead of wasting time troubleshooting.
- All of our laser machines are sold in turnkey packages. We include all accessories, software, and hardware that you’ll need to get started making money instantly. You won’t run into expensive add-ons or hidden costs. You’ll be up and running quickly after your investment in AP Laser.
How will AP Lazer fit into your business?
From Facebook to Instagram it’s easy to see that capturing life’s precious memories has become the new American pastime.
Business owners all over the United States who recognize this phenomenon are now capturing the lives of their customers on their products using a laser. In the eyes of customers, these laser engraved products become objects of deep personal meaning.
They become priceless.
Learn how you can make AP Lazer work for your business.
Contact us today for more info.