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  1. #1
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    Random questions re: Laser engraving in general.

    I have a few general questions regarding what laser engravers/cutters can and cannot do. I'm considering buying the 50w blue & white eBay laser engraver, but need to educate myself quite a bit more before I'd feel comfortable making a decision.

    #1 Will upgrading the optics, ie. mirrors and focusing lens, enable a lower cost machine to produce finer detail in etching/engraving. My thought is to "start-out" with a machine such as the 50W blue/white eBay machine I mentioned above, and then as time passes upgrade some components. (I know that many will suggest starting out with better equipment, lower cost in the long-run, etc.; but budget dictates otherwise currently.)

    #2 Are the better optics necessary to produce results like those shown in this video?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuhvI5Na_zo

    #3 Many years ago (1980-85) we use to "brand" our name/logo onto leather-working products with an electric tool that was basically a metal stamp heated like a soldering iron and after the proper warm-up would be pressed against the leather, branding it with whatever text/graphic was on the stamp. If I use a laser engraver to put text/graphics on leather (such as a wallet, belt, etc) would the result be similar, since the laser is essentially "burning" the text into the surface?

    #4 Is it possible to do 3-D type engraving with a lower cost machine, such as the ebay machine i'm looking at, that would be similar to the samples shown in this video?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGpkgtVVjcY

    Since the laser engraver is burning away the material, with a lower cost machine having a 40-50W tube I would think the speed would need to be much slower for 3-D cutting such as what's in that video, but that might result in the material near the cuts to be "scorched" because it's exposed to the heat longer? Am I picturing this correctly in my mind?

    I have only begun reading and educating myself regarding these laser engravers in the last week, so I know little-to-nothing, and thank you in advance for answers/information/advice.

    Thank you for your time and assistance.

  2. #2
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    Re: Random questions re: Laser engraving in general.

    I think I answered this in another thread. Your expectations of what a sub $4k machine can do are unrealistic. Sounds harsh but it's better to know now than after you spend your hard earned money on it. To accomplish most of this you will need a 60 watt or greater U.S. Machine. Around $16k+. Even then to get this deep 3d look you really need a CNC machine not a laser. You're looking at buy two machines a CNC and U.S. Laser to accomplish everything you want to do. Chinese lasers are not good at super fine details.

  3. #3
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    Re: Random questions re: Laser engraving in general.

    The second video, in my original post, shows the carvings being done with a laser engraver...although I do not know the specifications of the machine.

  4. #4
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    Re: Random questions re: Laser engraving in general.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bsrlinmaz View Post
    The second video, in my original post, shows the carvings being done with a laser engraver...although I do not know the specifications of the machine.
    You need a USA made laser to do this detailed photo work in your #2 video, Trotec, Universal, Epilog those are the big 3 brands. I've recommend 60watt - 80watt. Might be able to do it with a US machine 40watt even with multiple passes or really slow. They start at about $16,000.

  5. #5
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    Re: Random questions re: Laser engraving in general.

    Hello Bsrlinmaz, this is Nolan from ThunderLaser. hope my suggestion can help you.
    1. mirrors and focus lenses need to be replaced when they get dirt. But if you need to upgrade the motors, guide rail, driver or other internal components, I think it is not very convenient. as you don't know how to contact it, and it is not safety to change the electrical by personally.
    2. usually, we will recommend high resolution head to our customers if they need to engrave photos, more details, please visit our website.
    Laser heads for application - Thunderlaser
    3. about the 3D engraving, you should choose larger power laser tube, I think it is hard to get a 3D engraving if only use 50 watt or 60 watt laser tube. and laser cutter can't make very deep depth on the material.
    please check this video, it is called 3D engraving.
    3d laser engraving - Thunderlaser
    4. for your requirement, I think you should choose 80 watt laser tube.
    Have a nice day.

  6. #6
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    Re: Random questions re: Laser engraving in general.

    I'm going to take a different view... lol

    The first video, photo engraving, provided you have an appropriate controller, and set your feeds and speeds right, then it is all about the software (if automated) or "conversion" (if manual) done to the BMP before sending it to the machine, and then it is all about selecting the *right* bit of wood.... *anyone* can make six attempts and only show the seventh, the one where they got it all right for that piece of wood and that particular photo...

    IMG_0918 | Woods | Demo pieces | EL Gallery | Exeter Laser




    These are basically done by "halftoning" the BMP.... basically the laser power is fixed, the beam just turns on and off a lot

    The second video is entirely different, again, you will need an appropriate controller in your machine, and this one takes the BMP and converts it into 256 greyscales, and then THAT is output to control the laser POWER, the beam basically stays on, but the power constantly changes.

    You *can* "fake" the second video, manually, by doing the job in separate "slices" or multiple passes, but it's a lot of work, and you better not move the work piece at all between passes.

    HTH etc

  7. #7
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    Re: Random questions re: Laser engraving in general.

    Quote Originally Posted by KeithOKC View Post
    You need a USA made laser to do this detailed photo work in your #2 video, Trotec, Universal, Epilog those are the big 3 brands. I've recommend 60watt - 80watt. Might be able to do it with a US machine 40watt even with multiple passes or really slow. They start at about $16,000.
    I don't know where you got your information but I do some engraving with my less than $4000 blue laser.

  8. #8
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    Re: Random questions re: Laser engraving in general.

    @ fixtureman1 and ELaser: Thank you for the replies and information. I bought the Chinese SH-350 (Blue/White eBay laser engraver), and it is currently at the trucking company terminal about 45 minutes from here. Waiting for the bill of lading issues to be straightened out...shipper/vendor failed to indicate that a "lift-gate" veh. would be needed to get it out of the truck at my residence, and they won't let me come and pick it up at the terminal without authorization from the shipper/vendor...now waiting as the vendor is in China (plus 15 hours time difference so it's approx 4 AM there currently)...

    The vendor's listing on eBay indicates (claims) that this machine's included software does deal with/handle the 256 greyscales you spoke of. I know I will have a lot of experimentation and learning to do before I get it dialed in...but after seeing videos/pictures like those provided by ELaser, and others at different sources, I think it is going to be fine.

    The delivery SNAFU has me overly frustrated at the moment...knowing I could have the machine here within the hour if they'd simply let me come and pick it up (would be saving the trucking company time/fuel/money) is more than aggravating. They claim they were paid to deliver, and any changes such as me picking it up in person, have to be authorized by the vendor/shipper...:argue:

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by fixtureman1 View Post
    I don't know where you got your information but I do some engraving with my less than $4000 blue laser.
    I'm not saying you cannot engrave with a Chinese laser I'm just saying they are not the best tool for the job if you want to do photo realism as the OP wants to do. You can carve a sculpture with a blunt tool like an axe but I think we would all agree a set of artists chisels would make the job much easier. Can you pull off a photo on a Chinese laser? Im sure you can with enough time, effort, and redos, however it would be much easier to do and repeat successfully with the proper laser for the job. With my Trotec I can do jobs like this in minutes successful every time. Having the right tool for the job makes all the difference.

  10. #10
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    Re: Random questions re: Laser engraving in general.

    My 2 cents worth... If your lenses and mirrors are good quality & adjusted well and your art is crisp and clean you should be able to do all that. With a higher power you can burn deeper and hotter on the first try, but doing deep etching you usually want to make several passes anyway. I use an Epilog 50 watt, which will cut through up to 3/8" wood or acrylic in one pass. When I do wood portraits, I do several passes. Not just for depth but also burn color. Then I take fine sandpaper and brighten the highlights a little. Blow it off and finish with clear lacquer. Usually turn out beautiful. You can do that too.

    Scorching can be from hot, slow burns, firing at too high a frequency or lack of air flow. A good machine should have "air assist", where a small tube or cone blows air directly on the burn site. That goes a long way toward keeping down the overburn, plus it makes the beam more efficient and protects the lens. You'll need a compressor with a mimimum of 30psi for that. A little more is better. If yours doesn't have one consider adapting it. Other than that... pick just enough speed and power to cut the wood the way you want and adjust the frequency toward the low end to minimize scorching. Typically 500-1000 for wood. Higher, like 5000, is for acrylic so it can polish the surfaces as it cuts them.

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