Home laser engraving is a great hobby or starting a small business. While most laser engravers can handle most relatively soft materials, only certain laser engravers are up to the task of metal. That's why it's important to make sure you get someone who can handle everything you need. It can be small and relatively simple for your home studio, or large and advanced for your business.
What You Need to Know Before Buying a Metal Laser Engraver
Where do you use it
Where you plan to place your laser engraver will help you determine how big and advanced it needs to be. Some are lightweight and easy to carry, while others are industrial-sized for critical missions. Smaller ones can fit on a desk, while larger ones may require their own designated space in your workspace. If portability is your priority, you may have to sacrifice some features. Wherever you place it, make sure the space is well ventilated.
Your preferred metal
Some metal laser engravers work better on some metals than others. Harder metals will require more energy to get significant marks. Industrial strength will be able to cut and engrave stainless steel and nickel well. Before buying a laser engraver, consider how much power is required for the metal you are using.
How to use it safely
It is important to take extra care when using a laser engraving machine. Some have features that make this easier, but you should still always use a new machine with caution. Be sure to wear protective gear, such as safety glasses. Keep your hands away from the laser at all times. Make sure your area is well ventilated or wear a mask over your mouth and nose so you don't inhale any fumes from the process. If you're concerned about safety, it's worth investing in an engraver with multiple safety features, such as a protective cover.
What to look for in a metal laser engraver
An important factor to consider in a laser engraver is speed. Consider how efficient you need your machine to be. If you feel free to make projects at your own pace, you won't have to worry about speed. However, if you run a business and need to get orders at a consistent pace, this may be a higher priority.
Some machines take longer than others, but it also depends on their quality and precision. More detailed and higher-resolution images may take longer than simpler designs. For this reason, the speed of a machine is often described as a maximum and minimum value. Some laser engravers can also last longer than others without overheating.
The structure and design of a laser engraving machine seriously affect its effectiveness and safety. It should be well built and stable for consistent output and balanced use, and relatively quick and easy to put together. Some have autofocus, making them quick and easy to use. Others have safety features that can protect your eyes and skin.
Power and Precision
The laser engraver should be strong enough without compromising accuracy. In whatever material you choose, the engraving should be smooth and consistent. Power ranges from 500 milliwatts to over 100 watts on an average machine. The harder the material you use, the more power is required for mass and precise penetration.
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