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The Machine Tools & Metal Working Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about metal cutting, tools & fixturing, metal forming, grinding, industrial machine control and anything else related to the metalworking industry. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

Laser Engraved Gift Guide 2017

Posted November 12, 2017 12:00 AM by Epilog Laser
Pathfinder Tags: epilog laser laser engraving

The holidays are upon us, which means racking the brain for the perfect gift for that special someone. Sure, you can join the crowds and shop ‘til you drop, but why bother when you can add a personal touch to an ordinary object for the ultimate holiday gift.

If you have a laser engraver, then you’re in luck. This is the perfect tool to cross off everyone on your gift list this year.

Need some inspiration?

One example of a laser engraved gift can be found at StadiumMapArt. StadiumMapArt offers laser engraved artwork of sports stadiums and their surrounding cities. The stadium pops up from the matte, black metal frame, and the surrounding city is engraved into thin plywood.

According to Zach Holt, StadiumMapArt artist, there are two StadiumMapArt styles available. The classic style is the Map Art that has the 3D stadium laser engraved on the plywood with the surrounding streets and city engraved around it. Picture a zoomed-in map of a stadium and surrounding streets, buildings and even bodies of water.

Another option the company offers is the StadiumStateShape. This design is less detailed than the Map Art and resembles a zoomed-out map of the entire state.

Here are some other unique holiday gift ideas:

1. Customized Cutting Board: These cutting boards can be personalized with names or quotes with less than 500 characters.

2. Ornaments: Using a laser, you can cut a variety of tree decorations, from commemorative ornaments (think: “baby’s first Christmas”), to sparkly snowflakes! (Here’s a how-to video for you.)

3. Custom Leather Bookmarks: A fabulous idea for a stocking stuffer, these customized leather bookmarks are ideal for avid readers out there.

4. Decanter: Glassware is a very popular item for customization – know anyone who would love a personalized whiskey decanter?

5. Photo Gifts: Photos make a great gift for parents and grandparents. Take that a step further with an engraved photo and you’ve got a treasured memory that will last forever!

6. Water Bottles & Coated Tumblers: A versatile gift that’s great for nearly anyone – these water bottles are easy to laser engrave and look fantastic!

What am I missing? What other ideas can you think of?

Take a look at what others are engraving on Epilog Laser’s website for inspiration.

Editor's note: This is a sponsored blog post from Epilog Laser.

2 comments; last comment on 11/13/2017
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Quick Equipment Overview: KH7050 Laser Engraving Machine

Posted November 05, 2017 12:01 AM by ahorner_22

Recently we’ve acquired a new machine at Radwell International headquarters to add additional repair services to our capabilities. Our latest addition is a KH7050 Laser Engraving Machine, which allows us to design and cut new graphic overlays and gaskets for our customers.

The major benefit to having this machine in a production facility is the amount of time it saves on repair turnaround for customers. Currently there is up to a four week turnaround for customer overlays and gaskets to be made when these items are outsourced during our repair process. With this machine, turnaround can be under two hours. With this significant time difference, better service can be provided to customers who need custom items created.

Not only does Production and HMI benefit from having this machine, it is also a great addition for engineering and marketing teams as well. Custom items can be created for all kinds of purposes, not simply for repairs.

Here are some technical specs for this machine:

  • N.W. : 180KG
  • Laser power: 80W
  • Voltage: 110V/60HZ
  • Control system: DSP
  • Focus distance: 20cm
  • Max speed:1000mm/s
  • Resolution: 1000 DPI
  • Working area: 700 x 500mm
  • Location precision: 0.01mm
  • Software: rdworks software
  • Driver type: Micro Stepping Motor
  • PC Interface: USB 2.0 and USB Disk
  • Laser tube type: CO2 Glass sealed laser tube
  • Laser head to the lifting platform distance: 19cm
  • Machine dimension (L/W/H): 1460 x 850 x 950(mm)
  • Package dimension (L/W/H): 1560 x 950 x 1100 (mm)
  • Image form: HPGL, BMP, GIF, JPG, JPEG, DXF, DST, AI
1 comments; last comment on 11/06/2017
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How to Avoid Common Laser Engraving Mistakes

Posted October 15, 2017 12:00 AM by Epilog Laser
Pathfinder Tags: epilog laser laser engraving

Whether you are an experienced engineer or a novice maker, learning the proper uses of design equipment to avoid pitfalls and mistakes takes time and experience. From time to time, issues come up that leave designers wondering what they did wrong or how they could do something better. This is true in any field and laser engraving is no different.

Knowing how to avoid these mistakes so they don’t come up again is half the battle. With that in mind, Epilog Laser offers five of the most common mistakes when it comes to laser engraving and suggestions for how to avoid them in future projects.

  • Mistake 1: Engraving Fabric but the Laser Burns through the Material. The first step in avoiding burning fabric with a laser engraving/cutting machine is to understand what fabric can withstand the process and at what temperatures. Heartier fabrics such as denim, canvas and leather can withstand higher power settings during engraving. But when it comes to delicate fabrics, it is important to start on a high speed setting and a low power setting—maybe 5 percent to 10 percent. Then if the fabric can withstand it, increase the power from there until you get the results you are looking for.

Image caption: Hearty fabrics can withstand high power but lighter fabrics may work better with a lower power engraving. (Source: Epilog Laser)

  • Mistake 2: Acrylic Doesn’t Produce a Frosty White Engraving. More than likely, this is caused by using the wrong acrylic in the application. Two types of acrylics are typically used in laser engraving and both are suitable for different applications. Cast acrylic sheets and objects are made from a liquid acrylic that is poured into molds that then can be set into various shapes and sizes. This type of acrylic is ideal for engraving because it turns a frosty white color when engraved, making it suitable for awards and plaques. It can be cut with a laser, but it won’t give projects flame-polished edges.

Image caption: To get a frosty white finish, use cast acrylic materials. (Source: Epilog Laser)

  • Mistake 3: Inconsistent Glass Engraving. Oftentimes, when a laser strikes glass it will fracture the surface but not engrave deeply or remove the material needed to engrave fully. The fractured glass surface will produce a frosted appearance, but can be rough and chipped depending on the type of glass that is being engraved. While the frosted look is desired, no one wants a rough surface or chipping.

Image caption: Using a lower DPI or 80 percent black may help glass engraving avoid cracking or a rough finish. (Source: Epilog Laser)

  • Mistake 4: Wood Engraving Produces Different Results on the Same Setting. Wood is one of the most laser-friendly materials available not only because it can be cut very easily, but also because it engraves very well. However, different woods have different reactions when they are laser-engraved and produce different characteristics.
  • Mistake 5: Laser Engraver Doesn’t Perform as Fast Anymore. Clean your machine! Much like other types of design equipment, a clean machine produces better results than one that is not properly maintained.

These mistakes are common among makers and designers that use laser engraving machines, especially those just beginning to use the equipment. But as you can see they are easily avoidable if you have the knowledge to correct the mistake.

Learn more about Epilog Laser and how the company is providing valuable services to a wide variety of industries.

Editor's note: This is a sponsored blog post from Epilog Laser.

7 comments; last comment on 10/16/2017
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Decorating Glass: Sandblasting or Laser Etching?

Posted September 10, 2017 12:00 AM by Epilog Laser

When it comes to decorating glass, there is more than one method to choose from. A popular alternative to laser engraving is sandblasting. Both methods have their pros and cons; many shops that offer glass decorating use a combination of methods to achieve the best results.

Sandblasting uses a pressurized abrasive stream to etch into the glass surface, creating a deep and permanent mark. The mark is smooth and even, and allows for considerable intricacy of design. Sandblasting is labor-intensive: each glass item is prepped with a hand-applied film (also called a resist) and protective taping, blasted individually in a special cabinet, then rinsed clean of residue. Because of the equipment and labor involved, sandblasting tends to be a high-quality—but costly—method for decorating glass.

Laser engraving, by contrast, uses the laser like a writing instrument to vaporize the glass surface as it makes contact. This creates a micro-fracture that permanently marks the glass; not unlike sandblasting, the mark will have a frosted white appearance. A major advantage of using the laser for glass decorating is a reduction in both time and labor. It also does not require any additional special materials, such as sandblast resist film. The optional rotary attachment, available on most Epilog Laser systems, enables engraving to be performed all the way around the glass surface.

Image caption: Example mug designs. Stainless steel (left) created by sandblasting; black mugs (right) created by laser engraving. (Source: Laser Custom Creations)

Choosing the Best Method for the Project

Laser Custom Creations is a small shop that does about a 50/50 split between laser and sandblasting methods. According to co-owner Terry Larkin, a key consideration is budget. Larkin mentions that the owners of a craft brewery approached him for a price quote to put their logo on glassware. Larkin suggested sandblasting for its smooth finish. His quote came in much higher than a quote the brewery owners had received for laser engraving. Larkin created a prototype, with the logo sand-etched onto one side and laser-engraved onto the other. After seeing the difference, the owners decided to go the more expensive route. At the same time, Larkin’s shop produces a steady volume of awards that are done strictly with laser engraving. It’s a quicker process for the business and a less expensive option for the client. As awards are not a product that is regularly touched, the smoothness of sandblasting is less crucial.

Image caption: Photographic decoration applied to wine bottle via laser engraving. (Source: One Stop Awards)

Learn more about Epilog Laser and how the company is providing valuable services to a wide variety of industries.

Editor's note: This is a sponsored blog post from Epilog Laser.

2 comments; last comment on 09/16/2017
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Laser Engraving Applications in the Industrial Space

Posted August 14, 2017 9:00 AM by Epilog Laser
Pathfinder Tags: epilog laser laser engraving

The ability to customize specific items, protect intellectual property and include safety measures is leading to the growth of laser engraving for industrial applications. Beyond use for businesses looking to add a logo or specific branding to items, laser engraving offers a way to leave permanent marks on an item in the industrial segment, providing checks and balances against counterfeit products or replicas.

One of the biggest areas of growth in the industrial market for laser engraving is the identification security segment where laser engraving is ideal for credit cards, ID cards, sensitive documents and other items that require increased safety measures.

Image caption: Laser engraving is an invaluable tool for the industrial segment looking to protect parts from fraud. (Source: Epilog Laser)

Not surprisingly, laser engraving has become an important tool in part identification, inventory control and tracking, safety and warning notification as well as loss prevention. As a result, many new industrial segments – including robotics, 3D printing, inventory management, banking, security, government agencies and the automotive sector – are beginning to flock to laser engraving in order to provide an added layer of security.

Image caption: Serial numbers, bar codes, part numbers, data matrix code markings and more can be etched onto materials. (Source: Epilog Laser)

So, how can you identify the best machine for your industrial laser engraving application?

Two types of laser systems often used for the industrial sector are flying-optics fiber laser systems or Galvo systems that are designed primarily for bare-metal marking. Galvo systems are typically faster at the laser marking process, but tend to be smaller than the flatbed flying optics fiber lasers.

Image caption: A G2 Galvo laser engraving machine. (Source: Epilog Laser)

Epilog Laser’s new G2 is the first Galvo laser system that can laser-mark over a larger work area without compromising quality or requiring product indexing. Meanwhile, fiber laser systems provide laser engraving for etching and marking on all types of bare metals and plastics where the laser directly prints from any graphic software program to etch barcodes, serial numbers, images and much more.

No matter what type of machine you choose, though, laser engraving can help to provide that extra layer of security needed to prevent fraud or duplication of intellectual property in industrial applications.

Learn more about Epilog Laser and how the company is providing valuable services to a wide variety of industries.

Editor's note: This is a sponsored blog post from Epilog Laser.

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