July '20

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A W A R D S & C U S T O M I Z AT I O N SOLVING ADVANCED LASERING CHALLENGES A LOOK AT BORDERS, CORNERS, AND SMALL CUTOUTS SOLVING ADVANCED LASERING SOLVING ADVANCED LASERING T he biggest challenges I face each week in laser engraving often involve our customer-provided products. Occasion- ally, industry suppliers offer products with shapes that my customers purchase that make me pause before lasering to figure out how to either square the product in the laser or place it so the laser's bridge does not hit the product while lasering. A product that is not squared or is hit by the bridge is immediately ruined, often making the project unprofitable. A part of solving advanced lasering challenges is to evaluate not only whether a project can be accomplished satisfactorily, but completed with a reasonable effort so it yields a profit. There will always be unprofitable projects we simply have to complete for our own education or for our best customers. During the sales process, before agreeing to take the project, make sure you evaluate how you will accomplish the engraving and whether the customer appreciates the challenge to be able to accept the results you will get. There may be mul- tiple challenges, so writing down each one helps the customer understand the circumstance and helps you think deep enough to not miss something. BORDERS AND CORNERS Engraving borders, including corners, can be challenging, espe- cially if the customer is picky or a perfectionist. In general, when working with a plate that you also cut from sheet acrylic, wood, or leatherette, the placement of the border should laser perfect as long as the border or corners are grouped and placed in the center of the plate outline. The real challenge arises when you have a pre-made product such as an urn or a plate that is hand-cut from a sheet of metal or any other material. When working with odd-shaped and round products, I usually laser from a center orientation that I call cen- ter-center. Urns stand tall and may have round-over edges that may not be even or are tall enough that they cannot be engraved with the laser table in the machine. I made a thin platform of 1/8-inch hardboard for products to sit on in the bottom of my laser. As screws and other hardware stick Y O U R L A S E R A T W O R K | B O B H A G E L Above: The engraving jig sits against the top ruler, which is perfectly straight and assures a straight engraving. Left: My center-center ruler is quick and easy to use to find the cen- ter of the urn. 4 0 G R A P H I C S P R O J U L Y 2 0 2 0 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M A simulation of the border urn engraved 1/2% tilted. Only a slight tilt is obvious. (All images courtesy Bob Hagel)

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