5 common mistakes in laser engraving and how to avoid them-Bunny

Error 1: The laser burns the fabric when it tries to burn it

The first step to avoid burning the fabric with laser engraving and cutting equipment understand which fabrics can resist the process and at what temperatures. Thicker fabrics, such as denim, canvas and leather, can withstand more powerful settings during engraving. But when it comes to delicate fabrics, it is important to start with the adjustments in high speed (at 100% or near that value) and low power (around 5% to 10%). Perform tests with these initial adjustments on any scrap piece and if the fabric can withstand them, increase the power gradually until you get the results you are looking for.

If you need to record directly on a garment, it is advisable to decrease the amount of dots per inch (PPP) that you use to record. The higher the number of PPP, the greater the amount of material that remove. If you record with a lower PPP setting, the laser only slightly vaporizes the top layer and does not burn the fabric until it transferre. Most fabric prints work well with settings of 150 to 300 PPP.

Error 2: Acrylic does not produce frosty white engraving

This is most likely to happen because the acrylic you are using is not correct for the application. Normally two types of acrylic are used in laser engraving and both are suitable for different applications.

Molded acrylic plates and objects are made with a liquid acrylic that is poured into molds to solidify it in various sizes and shapes. This type of acrylic is ideal for making prints because it produces a white frosting perfect for awards and plates. It can be laser cut, but does not produce flame polished edges.

The other type of acrylic used in laser engraving call extruded acrylic, and form from plates in a machine. Extruded acrylic is usually less expensive than molded acrylic because its manufacturing technique allows it to create in larger volumes. However, it reacts very differently in laser engraving equipment. This type of acrylic cut cleanly and uniformly and produces a flame-polished edge; however, when it recorded, it does not produce a frosty appearance, but rather a transparent engraving. Therefore, if you want to get a frosty white finish, you should make sure to use molded acrylic.

Error 3: Irregular Glass Engraving

Frequently, when the laser touches the glass, it cracks the surface but does not engrave deeply or remove the material needed to completely etch. The cracked glass surface produces a frosty appearance, but it can be rough and splintered, depending on the type of glass you are using. While the frosty appearance somewhat desirable, the same cannot said of a rough or splintered surface.

To obtain a uniform frosty finish, try one or more of the following tips:

  • Use a lower resolution of about 300 PPP, which will produce a better result in the glass as it increases the separation between the points that are recorded.
  • Change the black setting of your image to 80% black.
  • Run the laser engraver with Jarvis Blur (this blur pattern can found in the Epilog print controller), which will help provide a uniform finish.
  • Sometimes, putting a sheet of newspaper or a wet paper towel in the etching area helps dissipate heat and improves the etching process. Just make sure you don’t leave wrinkles on the paper when you put it on.
  • Another way to dissipate heat apply a thin layer of liquid soap to the area that etched. Either with your finger or with a paper towel.
  • Finally, if there are glass chips after engraving, polish the area with a scrubbing sponge that does not scratch.

Error 4: Wood engraving produces different results with the same configuration

Different woods have different reactions when etched with laser and produce different results. Lighter woods, such as cherry or maple, produce a pleasant contrast in the area that the laser burns, while cut or engrave denser woods, more laser power required

Here are some tips for wood engraving:

  • Maple and alder are some of the most popular wood for engraving, because they provide a sharp contrast.
  • Natural wood engraving produces smoke and debris during the process that can embedded in the wood grain. To reduce this effect, always record from the bottom up, as this helps keep smoke away from engraving.
  • When you burn stained wood, you remove excess smoke and debris from the surface with a damp cloth after burning.

Error 5: The laser engraver no longer works as fast as before

Clean your equipment! As with other types of design equipment, a machine produces better results than one that not properly maintained. The maintenance requirements indicated in the user manual of your laser equipment. If performance has declined rapidly, checking and cleaning the optical components may be the first step in correcting the problem.

We recommend inspecting the laser’s optical components (lenses and mirrors) every week and cleaning them when necessary. If you cut materials that produce a greater amount of waste, such as wood or acrylic. It need to clean these components more frequently. Typically, the optical elements are light golden in color and shine. If they are opaque or have stains and dirt, it is time to clean them.