Awards & Engraving

October '18

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64 • A&E OCTOBER 2018 The other common laser source is called a fiber laser. The fiber laser has an output that can create high-contrast engraving on bare metal and certain plastic types. While ideal for metal marking, the fiber laser is not ideal for organic materials. Be sure to check out the hybrid systems that accom- modate all laser material types and are a combination of both fiber and CO 2 lasers in one system. More choices exist when it comes to the beam delivery type for laser systems. Two types of beam delivery systems are available, and each have their strengths and weaknesses. Ideal for high-speed engraving is the galvanometer or galvo system. Typi- cally having a small field size or work area, the galvo systems are known for quick and precise engraving. Key to the galvo system is the process of steering the laser beam using a hyper accurate motor-controlled mirror. Often limited to a work area of 8 by 8 inches or less, the galvo engraving system makes quick work of engraving jobs using the advanced and fast mirror system. If larger work areas are an important part of your business, consider the plotter style or gantry laser systems. With bed sizes ranging from a tabletop 12 by 18 inches to super-sized 4 by 8 feet, there are plenty of bed size choices to fit your business type. Still plenty fast for engraving, the gantry- style laser system moves the engraving head in that familiar back-and-forth motion or raster mode. High-volume engravers like the larger bed systems to fit multiple parts across the engraving bed, making use of the engraving head movement of the gantry-style laser. Many smaller items can be engraved in-mass using a fixture or jig to hold them in place. All around the more flexible of the two laser system designs, the gantry style of laser is also an affordable and reliable tool for your laser engraving shop. Whichever laser system you choose, be sure to consider safety. The design of the laser system is what qualifies it for various safety categories. Monitored by the FDA, laser system manufacturers have a rigid design criteria that must be adhered to. Class 1 and Class 3 categorized systems are always the safest and best for in-shop use. Class 4 laser systems have the lowest level of safety, so operation must include safety goggles and other requirements to avoid potential contact with the laser. THE EXHAUST SYSTEM A by-product of the laser engraving pro- cess is smoke; a safe method to evacuate the smoke residue is required. Two types of exhaust systems are available depending on your budget and shop design. An exhaust fan is an affordable method to expel the smoke generated from the laser engraving process. Be sure to seal and tape your duct A fiber laser has an output that can create high-contrast engraving on bare metal. IMAGE COURTESY RMI LASER LLC

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