Laser etching, marking, sketching, or engraving seems to be one of the fastest ways to mark objects. Whether for decorative, functional, or scientific purposes, this process proved to be useful for many industries.
If you’re looking to buy a laser engraver, you might be curious as to what type of material and results you can get once you get your hands on one. Of course, everyone knows that coated and treated metals are among the most common applications of laser engraving, but what happens when you point that beam at something else?
Answering this question is often very tricky since the way lasers work doesn’t really give room for do-overs if you make a mistake. Here are the other materials you can use laser engraving on, as well as things to keep in mind once you start working on them:
One of the biggest uses of laser engraving is to leave marks or logos on plastic machinery. Unlike ink (which fades over time), embossing (which can give different results based on the thickness of the material) or stickers (which can be easily peeled away,) laser engraving is one of the best methods to identify or brand any plastic.
However, plastic products are not created equal. Since plastic is treated differently according to their use, pure plastic is rarely the working product once it’s time to use laser engraving on it. In this case, the chemicals used to treat the plastic are of the bigger concern, as the concentrated heat required from a laser can have strange or bad effects on certain chemicals.
Generally, acrylic is among the best plastic materials to use lasers on. You see this all the time in awards and plaques; the surface is often laser engraved with the details. Since manual engraving will take more time and prone to risks of breaking the material under pressure, laser engraving is the preferred option.
Stone and Glass
The natural atomic structure of stone and glass often have very interesting reactions with lasers. Because the natural surface of these materials are often filled with pores and they are subject to heat expansion, a laser hitting their surface doesn’t cut in the general sense; it fractures.
That said, it takes a great amount of skill and calculation to use lasers on these materials properly. Of course, the right machinery and computer calculations can make this task simpler. But these tools are often out of reach of most laser engravers who have to do the job via trial and error. The results from laser-engraved stone and glass can be beautiful in the right hands.
These are just some of the important things to remember if you put anything else rather than metal into your laser engraver.
Remember to always be cautious and never just use any surface without thorough research to avoid serious harm or damage to what you’re working on. Use high-quality equipment to ensure your safety and the quality of the results. You may also hire an experienced professional to do the job for you.