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The Basics of Laser Engraving by John Hamlin

The Basics of Laser Engraving by John Hamlin

Laser Engraving

Laser engraving is a part of laser processing technology. It is an engraving or marking method in which a high-energy laser beam is used to irradiate the workpiece locally. It is used to locally mark, vaporize or color change the surface material, which results in permanent marking. Laser engraving has come a long way and has made itself an important part of the industry. Laser engravings are used to make permanent markings, patterns, symbols, or writing on sheet material. Laser engraving machines use high speed and precision with the help of some tools for carvings.

Laser engravers are so precise because the laser spot is so thin that it is focused only on one specified area. The engraver locates the area that needs to be engraved and emits a focused beam of light that alters its properties and appearance. This focused and precise engraving makes laser engravers ideal for many industries. Laser engraving can be done on almost anything, like jewelry, medical kits, and wooden and plastic sheets.

Components of a Laser 

Lasers are composed of three components. These are:

  • Energy Source -
  •       The function of the energy source is to pump light into the gain medium. It varies according to the type of laser used, such as electric discharge, laser diode, flashlight, etc.

  • Gain Medium -
  •       The gain medium functions by emitting light of different wavelengths. It is a source of optical gain and is named after the type of gain medium.

  • Resonator -
  •          Mirrors surround the gain medium, and the resonator doubles the optical gain by using these mirrors.


    How Laser Engraving Works -

    • Laser engraving works by vaporizing the material surface into fumes and engraving permanent, deep marks onto the surface.
    • It is like an inkjet printer and uses lasers instead of ink.
    • First, we need a laser engraving machine that uses a high-powered laser to engrave a specified area.
    • The desired design is programmed, which then sends the design to the laser engraving machine.
    • The material is put inside the machine, and the laser beams will begin to engrave it.
    • The specified areas exposed to lasers receive a massive amount of heat energy that is enough to vaporize the surface.

    Types of Laser -

    Depending upon the optical gain, lasers are classified into five types:

    Gas Lasers -

    • Gas lasers produce light by passing an electric current through a gas.
    • This process is known as population inversion.
    • The commonly used gasses are CO2, krypton, helium-neon, and argon.
    • These lasers are used in holography, spectroscopy, material processing, barcode scanning, and laser surgery.          

    Solid-state Lasers -

    • Solid-state lasers work using solids such as crystal or glass mixed with other rare elements.
    • These elements are neodymium, chromium, erbium, or ytterbium.
    • The first-ever constructed solid-state laser was the ruby laser.
    • These are used in tattoo making, hair removal, tissue ablation, and kidney stone removal.

    Dye Lasers -

    • A dye laser is a liquid laser that uses organic dye in liquid form as its gain medium.
    • The dye lasers have a wide range of wavelengths and can be controlled at any time during operation. 
    • These lasers are used for spectroscopy, birthmark removal, laser medicine, and isotope isolation.

    Fiber Lasers -

    • A fiber laser is a special type of solid-state laser, and the gain medium of this type is the optical fibers.
    • The silica glass is mixed up with other rare earth elements.
    • The emitting light of this silica is a property that makes it ideal to use.
    • The light is smaller and straighter than any other laser, assisting with precise, focused work.
    • The fiber lasers are low-cost, low maintenance, have a smaller footprint, and are highly efficient.
    • These are used in laser cutting, texturing, markings, and welding.

    Semiconductor Lasers -

    • Semiconductor diodes are also called laser diodes and have a PN-junction.
    • The PN-junction of diodes is covered with a layer responsible for spontaneous emission.
    • This layer is polished and amplifies the photons emitted, converting electric current into laser energy.
    • These are commonly used in barcode reading, laser pointing, laser printers, and laser scanners.

    Types of Laser Engravings -

    There are three types of laser engravings. These are:

    Cutting and Engraving -

           This type of cutting method is used for engraving patterns on the surface material. The patterns are decomposed, expressed in lines, and then cut with the laser.

    Concave Carving -

          This type is often seen in two situations. One is the same cutting process for the surface, and the other is done by forming dark and light patterns on the surface. The former is ideal for carving patterns of objects like animals, plants, etc., while the latter is good for details such as facial expressions. 

    Toppan Engraving -

          This engraving only cuts the material around the pattern and is suitable for graphics, outlines, and texts.

    Advantages of Laser Engraving -

    • Laser engraving is precise and able to handle different types of media.
    • It is used for a variety of applications.
    • It is accurate, consistent, and safe to use.
    • Laser engraving is high-speed and low cost.

    Applications of Laser Engraving -

    • Laser engravings are used in prototyping, whether for building an app or a physical product.
    • Laser engravings are used for the personalization of products by engraving important information onto the product.
    • Laser engravings are used on products for decoration purposes.


    Project 3D Printers is here to serve all your 3D printing needs. We have a variety of all machinery required for 3D printing. Contact us for more details.

    Next article 7 Must Know Tips For 3D Filaments, by James J. Fair


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