laser engraving metal

Small businesses and hobbyists who regularly produce parts for their customers can greatly benefit from efficient laser engraving systems. These diverse systems can work with a wide range of materials fulfilling vital roles.

But if you’re wondering just how to use a laser engraver and what goes into the process, you’re not alone. The good news is operating a laser engraver is fairly simple with the right training. In no time at all you’ll be able to make clean, clear marks and engravings on all of your products.

In this post, we’ll cover how to use a laser engraving machine – specifically what you need to know when laser engraving metal.

1. Choose the Material You Want to Work With

Laser engraving has the ability to work on diverse materials, particularly when it comes to metals. Some of the metal surfaces you are able to work with include:

  • Various grades of steel
  • Stainless steel
  • High-speed steels
  • Alloyed steels
  • Aluminum
  • Anodized aluminum
  • Titanium
  • Brass
  • Copper
  • Hardened metals
  • Carbides
  • Coated metals
  • Nickel-plated materials
  • Galvanized materials
  • Precious metals such as gold and silver

As you can see, no matter what you’re planning for your metal laser engraving an efficient laser engraver can provide.

2. Select the Applications You Want to Use Laser Engraving For

Companies utilize laser engraving systems for diverse purposes. While you may have already selected your purpose for a given piece, it’s worth considering all the things you can do with a laser engraving system.

You’ll be able to engrave:

  • Bar codes
  • Serial numbers/codes
  • 2D matrix codes
  • UDI medical markings
  • Product information/product names
  • Branding
  • Graphics and designs
  • Pictures
  • Logos
  • Personalization

These of course could all be placed on a specific part, or spread across numerous parts on a product that has a variety of components. This gives you full versatility when choosing what best fits the needs of a given product.

3. Determine If You Need to Engrave the Part Radially

Many parts feature a flat surface that is ideal for engraving, as the laser beam can move across the surface evenly without producing any distortions to the text, numerals, or images being engraved.

You may, however, want to laser engrave metal parts that are curved, cylindrical, or spherical. In these cases, you will need a special component that will allow you to laser engrave radially.

Our MR65 rotary accessory can facilitate 360° radial laser marking and engraving to help you fulfill such needs. Be sure to select this part if you believe radial engraving is something you may need to perform in the future.

4. Program the System to Perform the Engraving

Once you have your parts ready to go and have determined what you need engraved, you’ll want to gather your materials for the actual engraving. Whether you need to engrave simple text or numbering, or you’re wanting to incorporate a stylistic design, you can program any of this within a laser engraver’s software.

LaserGear systems utilize the TYKMA Electrox Minilase Pro SE programming software which can operate on Windows XP, 7, and 8 Professional 64-bit. This software features a user-friendly interface and customization options.

5. Utilize Proper Safety Procedures and Begin Engraving

Now that everything is in place you can begin your metal laser engraving, but you want to make sure you take steps to ensure the safety of yourself and anyone else in your facility.

Remember the laser classifications and their key aspects:

  • Class 1 – These lasers are either low powered or they are high powered but are enclosed within a safe container for operation. Our BOQX laser engravers are Class 1 systems in enclosed units.
  • Class 4 – For these systems, the laser is exposed in an open environment or as part of an integrated production line, requiring a higher level of caution and adherence to rigorous safety protocols. Our QUBE20W and QUBE60W systems are Class 4 systems.

To increase facility safety you can additionally incorporate a fume extraction system and utilize laser safety glasses.

The Benefits of Laser Engraving

Now that you know how to use a laser engraver, let’s take a look at some benefits of the systems. Using laser engraving for your products can supply you with a host of advantages, including:

  • Getting clean, crisp marks on your products to aid with identification, traceability, branding, personalization, and more
  • A no-contact operation for marking and engraving that requires no additional tools, inks, chemicals, pastes, or dyes
  • No need for retooling or tool changes during the procedure, significantly cutting down on time
  • Resistance to heat, acid, and abrasion in your markings and engravings
  • Incredible precision by way of markings and engravings that are able to be produced at micron-level accuracy
  • No pre-treatments or post-treatments of your material or its surface are required
  • Repeatability ideal for the processing of multiple parts

Other Uses for Laser Engraving Systems

When you purchase a laser engraver, you get a system that is highly versatile and is able to do multiple operations for your parts. While laser engraving cuts away material leaving an exposed cavity on the product, it is not the only way to alter the material’s surface.

  • Laser Marking – This method heats the material and turns its surface black or dark gray, staining it in a sense, while leaving the surface itself otherwise unaltered with no material removed.
  • Laser Etching – This subset of laser engraving actually melts the surface of the material and produces a raised mark.
  • Annealing – This form applies a large amount of heat but reduces the severity of the produced mark, leaving a black mark with a smooth finish. Commonly used by the medical industry.

Contact LaserGear to Start Laser Engraving Your Metal Parts

If you’re ready to begin laser engraving metal and receiving all the benefits that an efficient laser system can provide, reach out to LaserGear today. Our dedicated team can discuss options with you and help you to select the perfect system for your operations!