If you’ve ever wondered how a laser engraver works, wonder no more… To understand what a laser cutter and engraver is you first of all have to understand the origin of the word ‘laser’ itself. Here’s a bit of trivia for you. Laser is actually an acronym which stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. So a laser amplifies light by absorbing and then radiating energy
Laser cutting and engraving works when a high powered laser beam is concentrated to follow a path or pattern directed by a CNC code.
CNC – a word often used in our industry – actually stands for Computer Numerical Control. So a computerised path is drawn up for the laser to follow on the material to either cut or engrave as directed.
Electrical discharges within a small closed container stimulates the lasing material which is then reflected by a mirror until it is able to generate a stream of light which can then be directed onto the material to be cut or engraved. The intensity of the beam of light allows the smallest and most intricate detail to be cut or engraved into a variety of materials.
Laser engraving/cutting machines can be used on a wide variety of materials – these include plastics, metals, coated metals, stone and glass. They are ideal of intricate details such as traced patterns, fine art, logos with extra fine detail which need to be cut into a material rather than printed onto it. They are often used for jewellery, display and some industrial purposes too.
Lasering a piece of wood, for example, allows you to create a delicate pattern with a ‘burned on’ effect - useful for advertising and display with a rustic look. Acrylic awards, such as the type we frequently produce here at Key2 Group, also benefit from engraving to show great detail and retain a pleasant texture too.
We also work with a variety of Engraving Laminates which incorporate silicate and other materials to allow the laser to cut through one layer of the material and expose a different colour underneath. We often use this for name plates.
Highly reflective materials like mirror cannot be lasered however as they would direct the beam back to its source, which can cause a fire among other things.
The nature of laser engraving requires a skilled operative to set a CNC path or pattern for the laser to follow which is programmed in. The material is then set on the laser ‘bed’ and the beam is programmed to follow the path. One-off projects and large production runs easily can be achieved by this method however the laser cannot be left to its own devices. It has to always run under the watchful eye of a trained operator.
At Key2 Group we have two laser machines, both RS1290 100 watt CO2 laser power machines, which each have a work area of 1200mm x 900mm. You can learn more about our laser engraving and cutting abilities here.