Awards & Engraving

April '20

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14 a-e-mag.com • A&E APRIL 2020 YOUR LASER AT WORK By Bob Hagel The laser you choose could be quite different as your customer base and the subsequent needs and uses can and will be different. Let's talk about how to make that determination. THE LASER'S FEATURES Some laser shops work with a lot of metal products. You may use a metal- marking chemical to apply a permanent mark, or you might have a customer that wants to mark the metal directly. Two tools, a CO 2 laser and a rotary engraver, may be the best solution. However, you may want to purchase a laser that has both CO 2 and fiber lasers to etch acrylic, wood, and mark metal with the CO 2 while directly lasering metal with the fiber laser. This example brings us to your first task, which is understanding how your laser will be used. What is your present or anticipated customer base? If you are just opening up a shop, you may not know who your cus- tomers will be. Talk to laser shops that are already in your area to find out what their market niches are. Do they work primarily with sports leagues, providing dozens or hundreds of trophies at season's end? They may be a shop that focuses on tool marking. There are gift shops personalizing products or general engraving shops that work on almost anything someone brings through the door. Corporate awards, sign shops, and many more niches are possible. Your niche will guide you in selecting the right laser technologies, power (wattage), table size, accessories, and specific features that will serve you best. C hoosing a laser starts with your business model — what will be the primary items that you laser? A 50-watt CO 2 laser is the primary tool I use for personalizing products. My business focuses on awards and other personalized products for organizations such as businesses, non-profits, governments including police and fire, and electrical and solar signage. I also laser a lot of wood urns for many of our regional mortuaries and crematories. I cut acrylic and wood up to 1/8 of an inch and sandcarve almost all of my glass and round metal products. Bob Hagel and his wife Dana own Eagle's Mark Awards & Signs, offering a full line of personalized products using laser engraving, sand etching, and full-color UV direct print on products. They have offered awards, recognition, and signage products to organizations for more than a decade in the Southern California wine country. He can be reached at bob@eaglesmark.com. New to Laser Engraving: Buying Your First Laser My laser filtering system is powerful, quiet, and does not require outside exhaust pipes. ALL IMAGES COURTESY BOB HAGEL

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