A comparison of laser engraving and mechanical engraving

When is which engraving process better suited?

Laser engraving and mechanical engraving - a comparison of two technologies

Laser engraving and mechanical engraving are the most common methods of surface engraving for various materials. Both technologies have their purpose. With the laser, for example, the focus is precision, however the relief effect achieved in mechanical engraving is an advantage. In this article you will find a comparison of both methods with a comparison of their individual advantages and disadvantages.

Mechanical engraving

Mechanical engraving.

In the mechanical engraving process, a milling cutter moves over the surface of the clamped workpiece. The rotary motion of the milling cutter removes the surface of the material. For example, letters or patterns are milled out of a material. Plastic layered materials can also be engraved in this way. Metal surfaces offer a particular advantage in mechanical engraving: The deep machined lettering or decorations can be designed with color to increase the contrast.

Advantages of mechanical engraving.

  1. Deep engraving possible with metals.
  2. Metals can also be drilled and cut.

Disadvantages of mechanical engraving.

The following limits apply to mechanical engraving:

  1. Limited level of detail: Small details, in particular, are difficult to process.
  2. Wear and tear: The milling head wears down and needs to be changed regularly.
  3. Clamping required: For mechanical engraving, the workpiece must be clamped. The time required for this is a hindrance in the production of series.
  4. Not suitable for many materials: Fine engraving or marking of paper or leather are not possible. Mechanical engraving is not suitable for roughening the surface of acrylic.

Examples of paper engraving and photo engraving on acrylic using the laser

How laser engraving works

In laser engraving, a laser beam is focused on the surface of a workpiece by means of mirrors and lenses. The beam can then be moved over the surface using the axis system. The strong heat of the laser beam marks, burns or evaporates the surface of the workpiece depending on exposure time. This creates an engraving.

Read more information about laser engraving

Advantages of laser engraving

  1. Suitable for lots of materials (wood, glass, textiles, paper, metal, plastics, etc.)
  2. Material doesn't need to be clamped. Non-contact processing.
  3. No tool wear
  4. Very high precision
  5. Economical for individual pieces and series

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Overview of the advantages of both engraving methods:

  Laser engraving  Mechanical engraving
Engraving letters
Engraving small details and logos
Photo engraving
Cutting material ✔ 
Clean cutting edge
Post-processing necessary
Durability of the engraving ✔ 
User friendliness ✔ 
Easy to use

Experience required
Tool wear  
No consumables
Milling head, possibly external coolant
Cutting and drilling metals

Speedy laser engraving machines

For laser engraving we offer you a wide range of laser machines. They are optionally equipped with a CO2 laser, fiber laser or the combined flexx system. Our Speedy laser engravers are equally suitable for engraving and cutting.

Further information about our laser engravers

Because individual requirements require individual advice.
We’ll advise you free of charge.

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