Awards & Engraving

June '18

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A&E JUNE 2018 • 9 BEST PRACTICES: ENGRAVING There are a few basic tips to consider when laser processing plastic sheet materials — these best practices should be part of the process for every engraving job. Start with clean laser optics. Smoke residue on a lens or mirror reduces the beam intensity as much as 5 percent or more. A 5 percent reduction in laser inten- sity can be a make-or-break amount that affects the engraving quality. Make optic cleaning a habit for improved engraving performance. How low can you go? Keep power set- tings as low as possible to avoid melting, warping, and distortion of the plastic sheet. Using too much power is the most common fault most laser operators have with engraving plastic sheet materials. The cap layer of the plastic is thin and often just 3-4 thousandths of an inch thick, so not much power is required to ablate this layer. Adjust power and speed settings so engraving just barely reveals the base layer, then add 5-8 percent more power. One indicator of using too much power is a lip that is formed around the outside of the engraved area. Laser engraved plastic sheet should have clean, crisp edges and should cleanly remove the cap to reveal the base color. Lower the DPI setting. Soft and thin materials like engraving plastic sheet pro- duce better results at 300-400 DPI reso- lutions. Higher resolutions (500 and up) increase the melting and distortion with too much heat being generated by the volume The first step when running a combined job is to engrave through the cap layer. The second step is to mask the engraved plastic sheet. Step three is to cut the masked plastic sheet.

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