If a 3D printer is on top of your wish list then there is a high probability that a small laser engraver is next on the list. This technology has been around for quite some time now, but has gained popularity in recent years.
What is Laser engraving?
Traditional engraving techniques are still alive but there is a fair chance that their modern applications are rather limited. The technology involves laser imprinting and engraving, making the process quick and easy.
Laser engraving can be briefly explained as a subtractive manufacturing method that changes the surface of materials and objects with the use of a laser beam. This laser etching is used for the purpose of creating images or words on objects like metal and ceramic apart from a slew of other tangible objects.
A laser marker or engraver uses high temperatures to vaporize the surface material of the said object and leaves a cavity that is a designed to look like the intended image or logo.
Small Laser engravers
Traditional methods used to perform intricate detailing on objects have been around for a long time and are still in use. But they require so much more effort, expertise and tie to get the engraving right, which just won’t work considering how fast-paced society has gotten. Small laser engravers, on the other hand, perform this task with computer controlled aid and do not require a hands-on approach to engraving.
This certainly reduces the chances of error and is less time-consuming. Jewelers and manufacturers use small laser engraving to design and stamp their products.
Today top-of-the-line small laser engravers are available that perform diverse tasks and have different price points as well.
How to choose one?
Laser engravers come in different shapes and are available at radically varying price points. While large engravers are mostly known as the cream of the crop because of their size and engraving capabilities and functionalities, they are best suited for industries and manufacturers. They are so powerful that they are also used by the diamond industry for diamond engraving. Their capability to consistently cut through the toughest of materials makes this one of the priciest contraptions in the engraving business.
As for medium-sized engravers, you can get your hands on one for a few thousand dollars. These are more suitable for smaller businesses and industries, ranging from $1000 to $5000. They are powerful enough to cut thicker materials at a quicker pace and can even engrave an A3 paper sized object.
If you are a DIY enthusiast whose pockets are not that deep, luckily there are smaller versions available on the market for as low as $60 to $500. Of course, the prices may depend on the machines capability to engrave, and a cheaper one may only cover a small area given that they are less powerful.
There are some engravers that will cost you about $65 dollars with shipping, this may seem like a good deal, but these are usually unable to engrave images that have lesser dimensions than (38 by 38 millimeters).
You can also find ones that are slightly more powerful and fall in a price range of $300 or more. But there are some that need to be assembled and that may not be fun for someone who doesn’t “assemble” laser engravers.
There are other options available at online stores priced at $470. These include a cutting surface and can engrave up to 35mm. Although the price is significantly higher than the $65 one, this can be prone to low-quality software’s and are relatively cheaper than a high-quality laser engraver that covers larger workspace.
What can be done using a small engraver?
Laser engravers have not gained as much popularity as a 3D printer, so you may not be able to get guiding tutorials and other information easily on the internet. But if you get your hands on a good quality engraver, you can do a variety of things.
You can use a small engraver to put up signs and labels to categorize things. For example, if you are planting different vegetables and fruits in an allotment, an engraved sign with the name of the vegetation can be put up.
They are less likely to be blown away by the wind and are much heavier. Your signs are not going to be a runny mess every time it rains in your area.
Custom phone casing
People like to translate their personalities into things they use on a daily basis. Your phone is arguably the most used object in your life and personalizing it sure sounds fun. But you have to be careful with this procedure as trying to engrave on glass and metal can backfire, especially if you do so with the phone still in the case. The best option is to get a blank wooden case and engrave it. Etching on wooden surfaces is relatively easy and is sturdy enough to take the pressure of engraving.
If you are willing to spend a little more, you can get an engraver that can etch leather. But you have to do this with care and on the real deal. Using fake leather or suede can release byproducts that are extremely harmful. Moreover, you will not get a fine engraving on fake leather as you would on the real kind.
You cannot just get a laser cutter and go on an unchartered adventure; there are a few guidelines you need to follow. If the engraving equipment is not used with caution you can cause harm to yourself, your equipment or to anyone around you.
Keep a fire extinguisher handy at all times, you are using a high-temperature heat rays to engrave on flammable materials. It is only wise to take this precaution.
Make sure that the materials you are using do not have any PVC. As applying the laser to PVC can release chlorine gases that are dangerous.
Read all the instructions carefully and read up on this before you start using an engraver.