Laser engraving is becoming an increasingly popular and affordable option, for both the entrepreneur and the individual. The costs and availability of laser engraving machines used to be out of reach for people without both vast resources and the means to service them. With the price of components dropping and the CAD industry in an upswing, more people are purchasing lasers for etching, engraving, and cutting.
Many types of materials can be processed using lasers. In fact, it is often the type of material the project requires that determines what type of laser is used. There are two types of lasers commercially available, solid-state and gas. Gas lasers are excellent at cutting and engraving wood, leather, glass and other non-metallic materials. Solid-state lasers are better for metals, having a more highly powered, tightly focused beam.
Laser power also plays a large part in production quality and speed. A twenty to forty watt CO2 laser engraver can handle most jobs, from the hardest wood up to Plexiglas. But trying to cut a sheet of metal with anything less than five hundred watts is almost useless. Another thing to keep in mind is that power also impacts the speed of production. A more powerful laser will finish the job quicker, increasing the number of units able to be processed each day. This can have an immediate and profound impact on profits if demand exceeds the available supply.
Another thing to consider is the engraving area. There are so many projects and product potential with laser engraving that anyone considering purchasing a machine should be careful about the workable dimensions. Also, the software interface should be taken into consideration before any purchases are made. Make sure that whatever computer, laptop or mobile device is used has a CAD program that interfaces with a engraving surface of the appropriate size.
As in most things, the more research and preparation that is put into a project, the better the result will be. A detailed understanding of the types of materials that will be processed, the power levels of the laser and the production variables they effect, and the total surface area are what determine which laser engraver is best for the job.