Laser Process

The laser cutting process

Laser cutting is a precise method of cutting a design from a given material using a CAD file to guide it. There are different types of lasers used in the industry: CO2 lasers Fibre Nd and Nd-YAG.  CO 2 machines are more common. This involves firing a laser which cuts by melting, burning or vaporizing your material. You can achieve a really fine level of cutting detail on with a wide variety of materials. Bare in mind that CO 2 lasers can’t cut metals and hard materials, they can however engrave them.

Laser head and tolerance

The beam is emitted from what’s called the ‘laser tube’ and is reflected by several mirrors up into the ‘laser head’ (like a periscope.) 

Within the head is a lens that finely focuses the beam onto the material surface for cutting or engraving.

The kerf refers to how much of the material the laser takes away when cutting through. (the width of the groove made while cutting.) This varies from material to material and is also dependent on the laser beam tolerance i.e. the width of the beam. All our machines have a very fine tolerance.

Raster engraving

Laser engraving or laser etching is a method of marking where the laser head engraves by moving from left to right slowly down the material. It is also know as ‘raster engraving’. Think of it like a printer where instead of printing, it is actually taking some of your material away to mark the surface. It reacts to difficultclasses of materials in different ways. You can achieve some stunning results. All our machines are industry leaders!

Vector engraving / scoring

Vector engraving is a method of marking or scoring a material surface. Like the laser cutting process the laser beam will follow the path of vector strokes without cutting all the way through. The width of the stroke is made at the kerf of the laser i.e approx 0.2mm. To engrave thicker strokes, we would need to use the raster engraving method or de-focus the laser slightly.

3D Laser Engraving

3D Laser engraving is a fantastic process that really pushes the boundaries of laser technology. It works in the same way as laser engraving, but when using the 3D setting, the laser will also adjust the power it applies to the material based on the tonal quality of the drawing (lights and darks). Black areas receive maximum power while the white areas do not get engraved. All the shades in between get a varying amount of power giving it a true 3D appearance. The laser adds sloped edges to the engraving at varying depths. It’s a stunning process.

Metal laser marking

Metal laser marking is another method that involves the basic laser engraving process. During this process a special chemical marking compound is used. Surface depths cannot be achieved, the surface of the material is marked with permanent black marks. This process is mostly used for metal engraving but it also works well on other hard materials such as ceramic, marbles and stones.

Photo Laser Engraving

Photo laser engraving is essentially laser engraving but with a lot more detail. The laser reads the the tonal qualities of an image much like a printer. Black areas receive maximum laser power, white areas do not get engraved, the shades between the two get a varying amount of power. You can achieve some stunning results where we can engrave photographic quality up to 1200 DPI on many different materials.