Laser engraving glass is a fast and efficient way to create highly customizable and personalized products including wine glasses, beer steins, bottles, vases, carafes and more. Here are some helpful glassworking tips and tricks.
Laser Engraved Glass Products With a diode laser engraver or a CO2 laser engraver, you can use a variety of laser processing techniques on flat materials (including mirrors or window panes), round workpieces (such as wine or champagne flutes) or even bottles and other cylindrical objects. Inexpensive cast glasses are well suited for laser technology because they typically have lower lead content and a more uniform structure. Expensive hand-blown or crystal glass can create stresses in the material that can be exacerbated by the heat of the laser beam during engraving, causing the material to crack.
You can also use a fiber laser engraver to laser machine mirror glass by removing only the reflective layer on the back. This will result in the surface remaining smooth and the glass itself not being engraved.
What options are recommended for laser processing glass? There are several recommended methods for laser engraving glass and creating special effects. Here are just a few:
1. Wet wipes
Using a paper towel dampened with water will help prevent roughening of the laser engraved area and will also produce a crisp, white engraving. Before starting the laser engraving job, apply a damp single layer of paper towel to the glass workpiece and verify that there are no overlaps or air bubbles that could affect the engraved image. Turning off Air Assist also prevents the paper towels from drying out prematurely during the engraving process. After engraving, any residue can be easily wiped off for a quick clean of the workpiece.
2. Apply Tape
In addition to wet wipes, tape also helps keep the surface of your workpiece from getting rough. In contrast, using application tape will result in a gray engraving color instead of bright white. As with the paper towel method, make sure no air bubbles or overlaps form after applying the tape and engraving, just clean any residue off the glass.
3. Carving without auxiliary materials
Wet wipes or tape are the recommended finishing techniques, but not required for laser engraving glass. Effects can be created by making small adjustments, such as changing the graphic color from 100% black to approximately 70% gray. This will minimize the impact of heat on large surfaces, optimizing your finished product.
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Laser engraving is a popular option that provides a permanent and legible marking on an object through etching, ablation, or deep laser engraving. It is similar to laser marking, but the resulting appearance differs due to the depth of laser penetration.
Laser engraving is commonly used to create permanent serial markings on substrates made of: Metal, Wood, Plastic, Leather.
Benefits Of Laser Engraving Over Traditional Processes
Compared to manual engraving:
Minimally Invasive: Laser engraving can be performed at a range of depths without any direct contact at all. Surface marks can even be done on stainless steel with no depth. Overall, lasers are less damaging than manual engraving and keep the substrate material’s physical integrity intact.
Precise: Lasers provide a level of control that’s impossible to achieve manually. Compared to hand-engraving, the process is swift, clean, and highly repeatable, with little room for human error.
Versatile: A single laser engraving machine can be used to create a host of different designs with only minimal calibration. They can also produce exceptionally complex patterns.
Affordable: On average, laser devices last longer than other engraving machines and require less maintenance, resulting in savings that can be passed along to the consumer.
Fast: Lasers can be programmed to render virtually any design in a matter of moments. Because the process is automated, it’s easy to scale production runs as needed according to demand.
Long-Lasting: Laser-engraved designs are permanent but can wear over time, depending on the substrate material that’s used. Soft metals, for example, may experience more signs of wear than hardwood. In general, however, laser-engraved designs tend to have a longer lifespan compared to other engraving methods.