The most common methods of surface engraving are laser engraving and mechanical engraving. Each technology operates differently, and is better suited to certain applications. Laser engraving is exceptionally precise, however the mechanical engraving process is better suited to deep etching/engraving. This article will discuss how the technologies can best be used for your applications.
In mechanical engraving, a milling cutter moves over the surface of the material. The rotary motion of the milling cutter etches away the surface of the material. For example, letters or patterns are milled out of the material. Plastic layered materials can also be engraved in the same manner. Mechancal engraving is particularly suited to metals, as the deep etched areas can be paint filled for added contrast.
Advantages of mechanical engraving
- Deep engraving on metals.
- Metals can be drilled and cut.
Disadvantages of mechanical engraving
Mechanical engraving has the following limitations:
- Lack of detailed engraving. Intricate details are difficult to process.
- Wear and tear: The milling head wears down and requires frequent replacement.
- Clamping required: In order to secure the material, it must be clamped. This increased manual handling and processing time.
- Not suitable for a wide range materials: Cannot process paper or leather. Mechanical engraving is also not suitable for acrylic engraving.
Laser engraving works by a series of mirrors and lenses focusing a beam of light (laser). This beam is then moved over the material using an axis system. The concentrated power of the laser beam can mark, burn or vaporise the surface of the material. The effects can be varied depending on the strength and speed of the laser. Read more information about laser engraving here
Laser engraving offers many advantages:
- Laser processing is compatible with a wide range of materials (wood, glass, textiles, paper, metal, plastics, etc.)
- Because the process is 'non contact' - you don't need to clamp the material
- No tool wear
- Highly detailed engraving
- Economical processing option for single units, small runs or large scale production.
|Laser engraving||Mechanical engraving|
|Detailed engraving of small text and logos||✔||⚫|
|Cutting material||✔ |
Clean cut edge
|Durability of the engraving||✔||✔|
|User friendliness||✔ |
Easy to use
|Tool wear||✔ |
Milling head, possibly external coolant
|Cutting and drilling metals||⚫||✔|
Trotec offer a wide range of laser engravers to suit every application. Each laser is customised with a CO2 laser, fiber laser, or the combined flexx system. The Speedy series of laser engravers are designed to offer detailed engraving and precision laser cutting.