How Does a Laser Engraving Machine Work?

Laser technology is capable of everything from treating poor eyesight to scanning products at checkout.

As this technology becomes more widespread, lasers can also be used for DIY projects, especially in the context of laser engraving. But what is a laser engraving machine and how does it work?

If you’re interested in a new medium for engraving, laser engraving is more accessible than ever. Before you jump into purchasing or renting one, you should understand a bit about how they function. Keep reading for all of that and more.

Who Can Use a Laser Engraving Machine?

Laser engraving can be used for metal engraving, wood engraving, and many more materials. The laser removes some of the surface layers of whatever material you’re using. What’s left behind is a cavity in the shape of your chosen design.

While laser engraving machines are traditionally used by craftspeople, fabricators, and in manufacturing projects, these systems can now be rented and operated by almost anybody. If you have a DIY project that involves laser engraving, the machines and software are easy enough for anybody to use. 

How Does a Laser Engraving Machine Work?

In the laser engraving process, a machine uses complex technology to transfer a design from software onto an object or material. There are 3 main parts to a laser engraving machine. These are:

  1. The Laser. This functions like a pen or pencil that draws the design. It beams extremely high heat onto the “surface” to evaporate or burn away layers which results in a contrast mark in the form of the design.
  2. The Surface. The surface is the material you’re engraving. This may be wood engraving, metal engraving, or other durable materials. 
  3. The Controller. This piece of the machine controls the laser. It moves the laser across the surface according to the instructions in your design.

The movement of the controller is powered by the data you put into design software. This software is capable of complex and complicated designs, equivalent to anything that could be drawn by the human hand.

The Laser Engraving Process

Now that you know how the machine works, it’s time to learn the process of using a laser engraving machine.

Of course, the first step is coming up with your design. It might be as simple as engraving a name on a trophy but it may be as complex as a piece of artwork you want to be engraved onto metal. 

Once you’ve finalized your design, you’ll need to input it into design software. For this, you can use whatever design software you’re most comfortable with. That includes AutoCAD, Photoshop, and even Adobe Illustrator.

After that step, you simply send your design to the laser engraving machine. You do this using the printer driver. From there, the machine will take over in terms of cutting your design into your surface.

More Tech Explanations

A laser engraving machine is not something that only professionals can use. Just about anybody can learn how to use these machines to create beautiful DIY projects and art. It’s simply a matter of creating a design, pressing print, and letting the machine do its job.

And for more tech explanations for things you thought were more complicated than they are, check out our tech section regularly.

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