Awards & Engraving

October '18

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66 • A&E OCTOBER 2018 Another common product that is not laser friendly is any type of polycarbonate product that might be under the trade name Lexan. Out-gassing for polycarbonate is a little easier to see because a rich yellow smoke is emitted during laser processing. Again, more corrosive fumes, so stay away from polycarbonate products. Which materials work best with a CO 2 laser and are laser safe? Wood, anodized and coated metals, glass, acrylic, engraving plastic sheet, granite, stone, leather, Corian, paper, cardboard, rubber, and more. You will find that there is a difference between products available at a home center and products available from a laser materials supplier. For instance, not all wood is cre- ated equal and some woods engrave better than others. When it comes to which materials work best for laser engraving, it can be best summed up with creating contrast. Light-colored woods like alder are ideal because they laser engrave a dark brown. Engraving plastic sheet is another good example that offers high-contrast laser engraving when the top color of the plastic sheet is ablated by the laser to reveal the color layer underneath. Asian sourcing has become popular among suppliers of laserable materials for many years now. As with all Asian sourcing, quality and engrave-ability varies, so pick products from a qualified supplier that tests the materials and supplies laser settings. Ask your favorite supplier for a sample product or purchase a sample kit of products to test market and laser settings to prove a product's quality status. NARROW FOCUS TO START So far we have covered a wide range of topics regarding the basics of laser engraving. Now let's cover some topics that are common failures to new laser engraving business owners. One common thread that all suc- cessful startup laser engraving businesses There are hybrid laser systems available that accommodate all laser material types and are a combination of both a fiber and CO 2 lasers in one system. IMAGE COURTESY EPILOG LASER

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