Awards & Engraving

2019 Laser Engraving Report

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10 l Laser Engraving Report 2019 A-E-mag.com • SDGmag.com Below are considerations and tips to keep in mind for each. Aerosol Spray Can An aerosol spray can is the go-to applica- tion method for most projects. (Enduramark is used in the photos accompanying this article, but brands such as LaserBond or CerMark are also available.) An aerosol can is easy and ready to use. The only thing you have to do before you begin spraying is shake the can to allow the small ball inside to mix the product. An important tip about spraying with an aerosol can is that the best coverage is a light, even coat. Although it may seem that a thicker coat is better, there is no need to apply a heavy coating, and you will often get a better-quality mark with a thinner coating. With a thick coat, you also have to run your laser at slower speeds, adding time to your project. The ideal amount of coverage is when you have a light, even layer that is not completely opaque. Airbrush System An airbrush system is the best way to go if you are marking metal frequently and at a considerable volume. One advantage of an airbrush is that it allows for the most control over the spray pattern, minimizing waste when you are spraying a lot of items. The control provided by an airbrush also allows you to apply the ideal coverage — once again, a light, even coat — on each of your items. Another advantage is that the marking material you buy for use with an airbrush is in a form (paste) that is somewhat less expensive than the same amount of material in aerosol cans, saving money in the long run when you have to buy a significant amount of material. The reasons why you would likely not want to use an airbrush system for a lower volume business are the cost of the system and the extra work before and after use of the system. Specifically, you have to invest in the system and a nozzle, and ideally you also want to buy higher capacity reservoir bottles to attach to the nozzle. The second issue (extra preparation time) is due to the fact that you have to buy the marking material in paste form, dilute it with a solvent, and pour it into the airbrush bottle before it is ready for use. The third issue (addi- tional cleanup after use) involves pouring any leftover diluted paste back into the bottle it came from, rinsing out the empty airbrush bottle, and cleaning the airbrush nozzle. If you are marking only a small number of items a few times a week, there is no need to invest the money and extra time on an airbrush system when you can simply grab an aerosol can and get the job done. Preval Sprayer A Preval sprayer is another option if you want to save a little money by buying marking material in a paste form and diluting it yourself. As opposed to airbrush systems, Preval sprayers are inexpensive and there is little cleanup required. You simply cap the reservoir bottle after use and come back to it another day. The downside of the Preval sprayer is that it does not provide as much control over the spray pattern as an aerosol can or airbrush system. Preval sprayers are not specifically designed for this use, and they spray with a significant amount of force. Thus, it is a bit more difficult to get a light, consistent coating, and there will be more overspray and waste. But if you are trying to keep costs low while also maintaining ease of use, using a Preval sprayer is an acceptable choice. Paint Brushes Some laser engravers like to use a foam brush or other type of paint brush to apply marking material. One downside of brushes is that it can be difficult to get as light and even a coat as you would with spray due to streaking and bristle marks left by the brush. We don't typically recommend or prefer this method for application, but according to several laser-related message boards, some people swear by it. SPRAYING SENSITIVE ITEMS Other than ensuring you have a clean metal surface, spraying a metal part gener- ally requires little preparation. An exception to this would be when you have a metal object that also contains sensitive plastics. Some plastics can change texture or color when exposed to the aerosol or paste sol- vents, so in these cases we recommend A Preval sprayer is one option if you want to save a little money by buying marking material in a paste form and diluting it yourself. IMAGE COURTESY RYAN HUDDLESTON

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