Sign & Digital Graphics

Start Here October '18

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80 S T A R T H E R E 2 0 1 8 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 favor- ite 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 successful startup laser engrav- ing businesses have is that they start off with a narrow focus regarding all aspects of the business. Choosing which markets to start with can be daunting. Pick one or two markets to start with and create a successful business wrapped around those markets. When it comes to materials, pick a few to start with and slowly add more as the business grows. One failure many startup laser engraving shops make is trying to take in all types of engraving jobs and all types of materials. It is ok to say no to customers when you are just starting out. Take your time, be successful, and grow slowly in all aspects and you will build a strong and loyal customer base that appreciates your quality and service. Take a Class How do you get proficient using the laser engraving system, laser-friendly materials, and learn about the many markets and business opportunities? Take a class. Take a lot of classes. The internet is a good source of information, but taking a class or attending a laser clinic immerses you in the technology and connects you with industry peers. You need to invest in a class on laser processing to get in the game. Phase two of taking a class on laser engraving is to take the information back to your shop and practice. The learning pro- cess is about making the simple mistakes when you are trying a new process without the crunch of learning while doing a customer's job. Education requires dedication and experimenta- tion to develop your own style and techniques. Finding Success Success comes in many forms that are often not monetary. Successfully operating a laser engraving business is full of fun and creativity that can be both personally and professionally rewarding. Successfully creating a special award or personalized product for a client can be rewarding. Maybe the special product is a laser engraved memorial of a loved one or a pet. Or maybe the specially produced product is an award for top performance or an achievement. Using your laser engraver to produce such special products is both gratifying and rewarding in all ways. Take the time to learn new materials and products, and your customers will return over and over again. Laser Engraving Terms CO 2 Laser: Beam generated by exciting the CO 2 gas held within the laser tube. Produces infrared light with a wavelength of 9.4 to 10.6 micrometers. There are cur- rently three types of CO 2 laser sources: glass, metal and ceramic. CerMark: CO 2 laser systems cannot directly mark bare metal components without first being treated with a metal marking agent. CerMark is a metal marking agent used extensively in the laser engraving industry and allows CO 2 lasers to mark metal objects. Users spray a layer of CerMark on the substrate, let it dry and then per- form the engraving. Fiber Laser: Beam generated from optical fiber doped with rare-earth element (Ytterbium) that produces a wavelength of 1.06 micrometers. The beam is typically not absorbed by organic materials, but provides method of etching metal directly. Galvo Steered Laser (Galvo): Both the laser and work- piece are stationary, and two mirrors move the laser beam over the workpiece surface. Laser engravers using this technology can work in either raster or vector mode very quickly. Laser: A device that utilizes the natural oscillations of atoms or molecules between energy levels for generat- ing a beam of coherent electromagnetic radiation usually in the ultraviolet, visible or infrared regions of the spec- trum. Acronym for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. LASER ENGRAVING Many smaller items can be engraved in-mass on larger laser engravers using a fixture or jig to hold them in place. (Image courtesy Kern Laser Systems)

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