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Laser Etching wiki
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More about glass laser engraving check out this article
Create Works of Art with Laser Etching
Laser etching is a process whereby a laser imprints an image or pattern permanently into a solid material. The etching is done using a special laser etching machine with what’s called an excimer laser. Essentially the same one used in LASIK eye surgery and consists of an intense, highly powerful ultraviolet laser beam. The method is called laser ablation and involves etching the image with virtually no heat and in as much detail as possible. The laser used does not actually burn the image into the solid material as with engraving, it merely dissolves portions of the material as the short, quick pulse of the laser passes over it. This means that you can etch very intricate patterns and images like photographs into wood, glass, acrylic and more.
Laser Etching Machine
A laser etching machine utilizes various different lasers and laser etching equipment, such as different size lenses, than that of other engraving machines in order to carefully render an image without causing any damage to the surrounding material. There are different machines that can be used for different materials, but many high powered options can provide the ideal etching solution for any material, including glass, acrylic, wood, metal, leather and more. Additionally, there are numerous engraving machines that can also mark and etch items. Finding a top laser etching machine is easy if you look online. These can range from smaller hobby machines to the larger, commercial machines. The most important things to ask about when shopping for a top laser etching machine are the warranty details, which should also include replacement parts, the price and the operation.
You also need to make sure that the machine is easy to operate with laser software that is easy to install along with a user friendly interface. Depending on what you require the laser etching machine for, you can get high powered CO2 laser tube to etch or engrave more in less time, or a slower, more precise one for creating one-of-a-kind detailed designs. Some popular high powered laser etching and cutting machines can be found online such as Epilog, Trotec, and Universal. They offer a pretty decent laser cutter if you’re not sensitive to price. I would recommend BossLaser.com as well for a laser cutter that’s impressively priced considering the laser power offered.
Laser Glass Etching
Etched glass is one of the more popular projects for laser machines. When it comes to laser glass etching, an image is created in 3D using specialized software which is then converted into X, Y, and Z coordinates ready to be etched into a solid block of acrylic or glass. This requires the use of an ND:YAG laser which creates micro fractures, also known as cloud points. Aside from the 3D etching sub surface laser process, laser glass etching can also be performed on flat glass objects, or on cylindrical objects like wine glasses, where a rotary attachment is required. The laser will use a depth of field to ensure the correct focal point onto the item being etched, giving you a clean, clear image that has a frosty appearance. With laser glass etching it is recommended that you use a cheap glass that has no metal additives.
Laser Etching Wood
Wood is notoriously difficult to etch, as there are so many different types of wood with varying porosities, densities, and colors. Obviously the lighter the wood, the better, with the top three choices being Alder, Cherry, and Pacific Coast Maple.
Aside from that I’ve found light wood etches best. Aside from being light, they also have the highest concentration of natural resin, which gives the image its dark shades as the image is burned. There are instances where certain trees are cut down during winter, and this causes pale stripes in the wood where there is not enough resin, as the rest of the wood. This can ruin laser etching wood photo artworks. Similarly, some woods can streak quite a lot, which is not desired for any photographic wood etchings or artwork. With laser etching, the best effects are always achieved using an image with high contrasts in the gray scale copy. The best thing to do with any laser etched wood product is to test out the piece of wood first, by engraving the back of it. Usually companies engrave their logo or an emblem on the back to test the wood.
Laser Etching Machine Prices
There are many different types of laser etching machines, with the price depending on the quality of the machine, the size, and the type of laser used. Laser etching machine prices can range from around $7000 to $28,000 depending on the list of features and functions. You can also find great quality used laser etching machines which might be older models, but that still get the job done.
So, if you are looking to create intricate, brilliant works of art, which can include your own drawings, photos, or any image of your choice, some of the best options include using quality machines and equipment to create laser etching wood or laser glass etching items.
Desktop Laser Cutter for Wood
I have a smaller desktop laser cutter and use it to etch and cut balsa or plywood RC planes very easily. It can get a little pricey but way better in terms of cost compared to using a die cutter. And of course with a laser its more precise and without all the trimming.
Wiki on Laser Engraving
There are many ways of creating images on wood, glass and even metals. One of the most special ways of doing this is laser etching. There are reasons this method in particular stands out from the other methods such as painting or ordinary drawings. The engraving process is always very distinct and you cannot easily erase the images using ordinary erasers once they have been etched. To understand the way this methods works, it is important to start by explaining the term etching.
How Does Laser Etching Wood Happen
For starters, it is good to note that etching uses some amount of heat to burn into the engraved lines. It is the intensity of the heat that creates different pigments on the wood surface which outlines the image you intend to create. The other thing that is vital in the laser etching wood process is the resin. Once the groves are made, the resin is spread on top before introducing the laser beam on top. It is this laser beam that vaporizes the wood to produce a slight burn.
Sap is the liquid that is found in all sorts of wood. When the wood is green, you can actually prick the bark and collect some sap. During the laser etching wood procedure, the burn introduced by the laser beam reacts with the vapor which comes from the sap. This means that woods with more sap will probably give better results with etching as compared to those with less.
The Choice of Wood Is Important For Great Results
When laser etching wood; you need to pay serious attention to the kind of wood you use. Just like in carpentry, laser etching also requires special features in a piece of wood. Because the resin content in a piece of wood improves on the outcome of your laser etching, you should try to find wood with higher resin or sap content. Two of the most popular species of wood for laser etching are alder and cherry.
Perhaps the most critical question at this point would be how to tell wood that has a higher sap or resin content. All trees have sap but there are certain times in the life of a tree when the resin content may be higher or lower depending on the season. Most trees drop their sap to the lower trunk areas in preparation of the winter months. After this cold season is over, the resin redistributes throughout the tree. This is a clue to the fact that you must try to cut trees you intend to use for laser etching long after the winter months.
How to Test Whether the Plaque Has Enough Resin for Laser Etching Wood
Some great experts can tell just by knocking on the plaque or even closely looking at it. This however takes a considerable level of experience. The easiest and most obvious way to find out whether the plaque you want to use for laser etching has enough resin to produce great results with the laser beam is to try out a small pattern on the back side before you start on the serious task.
Another popular sign of high resin content on any piece of wood is the color. When you look at the piece of wood, you should take note of the darkness or lightness of the wood assuming that you know how that specific wood species looks in color under normal circumstances. Below are images of the differences in results between two different kinds of wood