Awards & Engraving

April '19

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10 • A&E APRIL 2019 Adam Voigt, Kern Laser Systems, builds on that point, specifically outlining some considerations and examples when pre- paring to purchase. "Picking a laser system has everything to do with your main pur- pose for buying one, and where you even- tually want your business to end up," he states. For example, if you start a company that specializes in cutting 1/4-inch plastic/ acrylic but eventually want to move up to 1-inch acrylic, you should plan ahead, as different laser sources only allow you to do so much with certain materials. Beginners also need to remember items that might seem more ancillary but are just as crucial. "One important thing to con- sider is whether or not your laser requires protective gear such as safety goggles," Amie McGee, Trotec Laser, emphasizes. She also circles back to the ventilation point, a consideration many beginners may over- look. "When a laser applies heat to mate- rials, it creates smoke and fumes. If that smoke isn't evacuated from a laser system, harmful, toxic, and dangerous fumes can cause health risks and create costly damage to the optics, mechanics, and other critical system components," she points out. Voigt adds one last item needed by the laser engraving beginner: a creative mind. "Get on the laser and start getting comfort- able with your substrate and running the laser. Then, start to get uncomfortable," he advises. "Try new things and push your imagination." OPERATION AND TRAINING Laser machine: check. Exhaust/ventilation system: check. Safety gear: check. Software: check. You've got the necessary items to begin laser engraving, but there's one problem: you, as a beginner, don't know how to operate the equipment. There's good news on this front as well: there are a plethora of avenues you can take to get comfortable using your machine. A great starting point is working with your manufacturer and/or distributor — Top 5 Application Tips for the Beginner By Aimee McGee, Trotec Laser 1. Make sure you're using a laser with the appropriate capabilities for your application. 2. Make sure you're using laser- friendly materials. Some materials, such as vinyl for example, emit nox- ious fumes when they are processed with a laser. 3. Make sure you have proper exhaust and ventilation. 4. Focus your lens appropriately for safety and better processing results. 5. Test your speed and power settings. Most laser systems are easy to learn, and users can start exploring all of the machine's capabilities the moment the laser is up and running. IMAGE COURTESY KERN LASER SYSTEMS

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