February '21

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7 6 G R A P H I C S P R O F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 1 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M A W A R D S & C U S T O M I Z AT I O N L ike other equipment used in the graphics industry, laser en- gravers continue to improve. In the past five years, a num- ber of innovations have taken place that make these devices not only useful to the industries that have always been attracted to them but to new ones as well. Laser engraver manufacturers get a lot of their inspiration from their cus- tomers and base many of the machines' improvements on their suggestions, says Mandi Smallwood, AP Lazer. Sign makers, woodworkers, and awards and engraving industries are still some of the biggest users of laser engravers, but a handful of new industries have realized just how useful these devices can be, including the funeral monument industry, which has learned that it can laser en- grave photo-quality images on headstones and monuments. NEW TO THE INDUSTRY Shops that are new to laser engrav- ing should determine what types of prod- ucts they want to engrave before purchas- ing a laser. If they want to engrave on a variety of substrates, a CO 2 laser is a good option. While it can engrave on plastics, wood, glass, and leather, it can't engrave on bare metal, though it can leave black marks on coated metals. If your main mission is to engrave di- rectly onto base metals, a fiber laser is your best choice. Fiber lasers can engrave on sili- con, gemstones, plastics, polymers, ceram- ics, thin films, and stone as well. Many companies want to get into engraving person- alized items like insulated mugs, glasses, or leather items. Before attempting to personal- ize any of these products, Adam Voigt, Kern Laser Systems, recommends doing a test run with different wattages and speeds to find the right settings. Mike Dean, Epilog Laser, agrees, saying that learning the power and speed settings is something easy to do that becomes in- tuitive after a while. The settings recom- mended by each laser manufacturer are a good starting point. From there, the shop can play around by changing the power and speed until they get the desired result. Another point new users should con- sider is graphics. Laser engraving is "very The Laser Experience TIPS ON DETERMINING WHAT LASER IS RIGHT FOR YOUR BUSINESS B Y P A U L A A V E N G L A D Y C H One step to take before pur- chasing a laser machine is to decide which products and market you want to serve. One popular segment in the graph- ics industry is personalized products, such as drinkware. (Image courtesy Epilog Laser) Shops that are new to laser engrav- alized items like insulated mugs, glasses, or leather items. Before attempting to personal ize any of these products, Adam B Y P A U L A A V E N G L A D Y C H

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