Machine Tools & Metal Working Blog

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.

Why Will a Laser be the Most Popular Tool in My Makerspace?

Posted February 06, 2022 5:00 AM by Epilog Laser
Pathfinder Tags: Laser cutters makerspace

With makerspaces popping up in schools, libraries and other communities around the world, many people are examining how to go about building a successful makerspace. It’s the tools in the space that bring in users, and the more users your space has, the more successful your space can be. Makers are looking for access to machinery that they can’t personally have, whether because of space or money, and the more versatile and unique the machinery, the better.

While CNC routers, 3D printers and laser cutters all complement each other very well, there are few reasons a laser may be more highly sought after.


Laser cutters are fast. Like, incredibly fast. In fact, depending on the size of the project, you can cut a prototype with the laser in a matter of minutes. Add an engraving to your project in only a few minutes more.

Ease of use

Training on the laser tends to be very quick because it’s just like printing to paper. You can use most graphic design programs to set up your artwork and send it to the laser. Training is either conducted by more experienced users or through a class that you require users to attend before they are qualified to use the laser.

Material versatility

The laser works with a variety of materials – wood, acrylic, fabric, cork, rubber, leather, and much more. Users can engrave/cut scrap materials, already-assembled products, or even inexpensive corrugated cardboard.


If you’re a makerspace looking to increase membership, the laser is the way to go. Potential members will be blown away by how precise and quick the laser is.

Contact us for more information about adding a laser cutter to your makerspace!

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What is Welding Arc Flash and How Can it be Prevented?

Posted July 05, 2020 12:00 AM by ahorner_22
Pathfinder Tags: radwell Welding

Welding arc flash is a burn of the outer layers of the eyeball caused by the intense ultra-violet radiation generated by welding. A common cause of arc flashes in the industrial industry is when someone looks directly at the welding area without wearing protective eye gear. Directly looking at the UV radiation generated by the electric welding arcs causes a painful inflammation of the cornea. This is commonly referred to as ‘welder’s eye’ or ‘arc eye.’

Basically, welding arc flash is like sunburn on your eyes. Like sunburn, cells are killed and need to be replaced. Someone with this type of eye injury will experience a “gritty” feeling in their injured eye. This is due to the dead cells being shed from the surface of the eye.

The best way to avoid exposure to arc flash is by placing a barrier between humans and the welding area.

For non-welders, a welding curtain protects them from the welding area. A welding curtain is a screen that encloses the welding operation and filters welding light radiation and particles. This is only suitable protection for someone who is outside of the welding area.

For someone directly in the welding area, eye protection is mandatory. The best eye protection is a welder’s helmet. A welder’s helmet covers a welder’s face to protect from sparks and flying materials. It has a special darkened eye shield to prevent the cornea from being damaged by ultraviolet light. Every welding helmet includes a lens shade through which the welder looks. The lens shade is heavily darkened and is a polarized lens that only lets in a certain amount of light.

Although welding can be interesting to watch, it is important to wear protective eye gear before observing a welder at work in order to avoid eye injury.

Editor's note: This is a sponsored blog post from Radwell International.

19 comments; last comment on 07/14/2020
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Common Threats to Manufacturing Safety and How to Prevent Them

Posted April 26, 2020 12:00 AM by ahorner_22
Pathfinder Tags: manufacturing radwell safety

Safety is a critical part of any operation but is especially important in a manufacturing environment. Poor safety can result in rising costs. Let’s talk about a few common safety issues and how to best prevent them from becoming a liability in a manufacturing operation.


A manufacturing plant can be a dangerous place when proper procedures aren’t followed. Falls are one of the most common hazards in a manufacturing facility. Falls can occur because of wet surfaces or because of not following safety protocols when operating equipment. By communicating to employees and managing their abilities, safety procedures can help keep employees safe.

Heavy Machinery

Large machinery can be hazardous when it is not operated properly. Proper training is the first step. Manager follow up and safety checklists are also helpful in promoting a safe environment. Machine guards in key areas can prevent improper machine operation. This also prevents humans from approaching the machine and putting themselves in harm’s way.

Industrial Vehicles

Wherever industrial vehicles operate, safety can be compromised. Operators should always be aware of their surroundings. Safety strapping should be in place and operators should be detailed operating in an area. One wrong move can have a lifetime of consequences and can result in damage to shelving and more. Spot checks and follow up training are important ways to prevent the worst from occurring.


There are many chemicals used in an industrial manufacturing operation. These chemicals can be a major safety hazard when they are improperly used. Chemical containers should be labeled with safety instructions. Training and follow up are both important for promoting safety.

Safety is an ongoing part of a manufacturing operation. When it comes to maintaining a safe working environment, it is everyone’s job to contribute to making work a safe place to be.

Editor's note: This is a sponsored post from Radwell International.

4 comments; last comment on 04/29/2020
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What Makes an Ideal Photo for Laser Engraving?

Posted April 05, 2020 12:00 AM by Epilog Laser
Pathfinder Tags: epilog laser engraving

Whether it’s a family portrait, a wedding photo, or a unique candid shot that only happens once in a lifetime, engraving photos is a popular and profitable laser application. These treasured memories – engraved on wood, marble, slate, etc. – are designed to last a lifetime. However, it can be frustrating for laser owners to achieve the stunning results they see online. Nine times out of 10, the problem isn’t with the engraver or their laser parameters. It’s with the image itself.

So, what makes a good photo candidate for engraving?

While engraved photos are exceptionally popular, engravers sometimes have difficulty achieving the desired look on the medium they’re working with. Before engraving photos it’s important to understand how the process works.

The first thing to keep in mind is that not EVERY photo is going to engrave well. So, what makes a photo ideal for engraving?

Shading: Make sure you have a variety of colors from light to dark within your photo. For example, a single-color photo that has a lot of sky won’t provide much visual interest when engraved, and neither will one with large dark areas. This type of photo may look visually interesting when printed, it will lose a lot of that detail when engraved.

Close-up subjects: Your photo’s composition is an integral part to the quality of the etching. Keep your subject in the foreground for best results. An image where the subject is far off in the distance may be great artistically, much of the detail will be lost in the engraving process.

What else impacts how a photo will engrave?

Materials matter.
A single photograph will engrave differently from one material to the next. Many users like to use black marble for photo engraving, while others choose black anodized aluminum, black plastic, clear acrylic or wood for their pictures. Even if you use the same photograph, keep in mind that each material will produce a different engraved look. We recommend testing a variety of materials with the same photo to determine which material creates the look you want.

Before you start your next photo engraving project remember the tips above and ask yourself these questions below to get the best results:

1. Does the photo show many gradations of color from light to dark?
2. Does the photo show good definition and detail?
3. Does the photo have a good contrast and focus?
4. Does the photo contain a good number of elements to view?

Want to learn more about photo processing? Check out this video. Happy lasering!

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

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Creating One of a Kind Gifts with a Laser

Posted March 01, 2020 12:00 AM by Epilog Laser
Pathfinder Tags: epilog laser laser cutting

One of the best things about CO2 laser cutting/engraving machines is how versatile the equipment is – you can be making money by marking logos one minute and cutting parts for prototypes the next. For those who make a business using their laser, one of the underlying benefits of having this invaluable tool is that you’ll never be at a loss for the perfect gift – even if it’s last minute. Check out the easy and inexpensive products below that make perfect gifts and take just a few minutes to create!

1. Custom leather journals
This fun gift is great for aspiring writers or travelers wanting to document their latest adventure. It also makes a fantastic guestbook for weddings, or sketch book for budding artists! Leather engraves and cuts beautifully with the laser and results in a very rustic look.

2. Engraved rolling pins
Take cookies and pie crusts to the next level with custom rolling pins! Using the rotary attachment on inexpensive rolling pins allows you to customize all kinds of baked goods.

3. Personalized wine glasses
Whether you go stemless or the traditional route, wine glasses engrave beautifully and make great bridal party gifts or wedding shower favors.

4. Custom recipe cutting boards
Instead of a run-of-the-mill engraving, try laser etching a beloved recipe from a relative or family friend on a wooden cutting board. It makes a wonderful gift that can be shared and passed down among generations.

5. Slate cheese/charcuterie board
Functional and stylish, this charcuterie tray makes a great host or hostess gift for parties, or a thoughtful present for anyone who loves entertaining.

These five customizable gifts are just the tip of the iceberg. With a laser system from Epilog you can personalize all kinds of gifts all year long. Check out Epilog’s Sample Club to see all the projects above!

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

1 comments; last comment on 03/02/2020
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