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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Using Epilog Laser Equipment to Create PPE during COVID-19 Crisis

Posted May 03, 2020 12:00 AM by Epilog Laser
Pathfinder Tags: epilog laser laser cutting

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, many of Epilog’s customers, distributors, and even employees are using their lasers in these uncertain times to create much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for members of their communities.

Below is just a handful of projects we were excited to see posted and shared.

Bucks County Intermediate Unit FabLab
Using the FabLab’s seven 3-D printers, along with their Epilog Laser cutter, they can currently produce over 200 face shields a week for distribution throughout Bucks County, PA.

Laser Depot & Northern Laser Systems
Epilog distributors from both Laser Depot (Colombia) and Northern Laser Systems (Wisconsin) recently laser cut and donated Aerosol Boxes to various healthcare facilities in their areas. Aerosol Boxes help reduce/eliminate the spread of bacteria during patient intubation.

Centex Laser Engraving, Texas
Elastic bands of the medical masks can rub the skin raw behind the ears, so Centex started laser-cutting acrylic medical mask clips with their Epilog. Instead of securing the mask behind the ears, it moves the elastic bands behind the head - being made of acrylic, they can be sterilized used again.

Fairway Laser Systems
The team at Fairway Laser Systems, Epilog’s distributors based in Valparaiso, Indiana, collaborated with Tri Kappa of Valparaiso to laser cut facemasks for their community.

Great things coming from the IDEAStudio at the Houston Community College District, like laser-cut face shield made out of PETG, which attaches to a front band that was laser cut out of ABS plastic.

It has been incredible to see makers and manufacturers near and far utilizing their equipment to aid their community during these times. We hope everyone is staying safe and healthy!

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

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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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