5 Different Types of Laser Engravers in 2024

OMTech Laser
·
20.June.2024

Have you ever considered using a laser engraver? In this generation, using a laser engraver will provide high precision, versatility, and efficiency, making it an ideal choice for you to create detailed and durable engravings on a wide range of materials. Therefore, come and check out the different types of laser engravers and choose one type for yourself!

5 Different Types of Lasers Used in Engraving

Each laser type offers unique benefits and applications. Understanding the different types of lasers used in engraving is crucial.  Here’s a breakdown of the main types, they are CO2 Lasers, Fiber Lasers, Diode Lasers, UV Lasers, and Nd: YAG Lasers. We will give you detailed information about these different types of laser engravers. 

CO2 Lasers

Brief introduction

In 1964, Kumar Patel introduced the world to the CO2 laser, a groundbreaking development at Bell Labs. This gas laser marked a significant advancement in laser technology and remained a cornerstone of modern engineering.

Over five decades later, Patel's invention plays a vital role in various industries, thanks to its remarkable capabilities. The CO2 laser stands out as the pinnacle of continuous-wave laser technology, boasting unrivaled power and efficiency.

With an output-to-pump power ratio of up to 20%, CO2 lasers deliver unparalleled performance in industrial and medical applications alike. These lasers emit infrared light, predominantly at wavelengths of 9.6 and 10.6 micrometers (μm), making them indispensable tools in precision cutting, welding, and surgery.

Pros

One of the standout benefits of CO2 lasers is their impressive versatility. They can handle a wide range of materials, from acrylic and wood to stone, glass, textiles, and plastic. 

CO2 lasers are great at cutting and engraving these materials with precision and finesse. While the speed can vary depending on the power, higher-end CO2 lasers work quickly, making them ideal for both hobbyists and small businesses.

Despite their capabilities, CO2 lasers are relatively affordable. Hobby-level CO2 lasers typically cost between $2,500 and $10,000, making them a viable option for those on a budget. 

For larger businesses needing industrial-grade performance, CO2 lasers in the $10,000 to $60,000 range offer robust features and capabilities to meet demanding production needs.

Cons

However, CO2 lasers do have some limitations. The main one is that they can only indirectly engrave or cut metals. For those jobs, you'll need a fiber laser. However, CO2 lasers can still work on coated metals or those treated with CerMark spray, but with some limitations.

Also, CO2 lasers usually use more power than other types of lasers. This means higher operational costs over time. Businesses need to consider this if they want to be efficient and keep expenses down.

OMTech CO2 Laser Engraver

For this type, we recommend the OMTech 50W CO2 laser engraver cutting machine. It can engrave materials like wood, glass, acrylic, and leather as deep as 0.4 inches (10 mm). It works at speeds up to 23.6 inches per second (600 mm/s). This makes it fast and efficient.

A great feature of this laser engraver is its two-way pass-through design. This means you can work on pieces larger than the bed size by sliding them through. 

It also has dual workbeds. The 20” x 12” workbed comes with both honeycomb and knife blade engraving platforms. This makes it versatile for different objects and materials.

The engraver has a Ruida digital controller. This control panel has a digital display. It lets you control the laser head, pause and stop projects, adjust power and speed, view files, and frame projects. 

You can do all this using the RDWorks v8 software, which is compatible with Windows.

It has two USB ports. You can use these for flash drive connectivity or a USB-to-USB PC connection. 

There are also Ethernet ports. Plus, it works with LightBurn software if you have a 50W or higher model.

This laser engraver is safe and compliant. It meets FDA and CE standards. It has a flame-retardant viewing window, built-in ventilation, a water flow sensor, and automatic shutdown.

The warranty is solid. There is a 2-year warranty on parts and hardware, with some exclusions. For models 70W and up, there is a 1-year warranty on laser tubes and power supplies. For models 40W to 60W, there is a 6-month warranty. 

Overall, the OMTech 50W CO2 laser engraver is a reliable and versatile tool, suitable for a variety of engraving and cutting tasks.

Fiber Lasers

Brief Introduction

A fiber laser engraver, also called a fiber laser marking machine, uses a high-powered laser to make permanent marks on metals and some plastics. The laser beam travels through a fiber optic cable to the engraving head. 

There, it focuses on the material's surface and removes a thin layer to create a design.

Fiber laser engravers are used in various industries like automotive, electronics, and jewelry. They're great for creating custom designs, marking product parts, and personalizing items. 

For example, in the automotive industry, they mark dashboards, buttons, and parts for traceability. 

In electronics, they add small graphics and text to ports and connection points. In jewelry, they create custom designs and personalized items.

These engravers are known for their precision, speed, and versatility. They're also eco-friendly and can engrave materials at speeds of up to 7,000 millimeters per second.

Pros

Fiber lasers are highly advantageous for precise marking tasks like metal annealing, etching, and engraving. Their precision and ability to create clear, durable markings make them perfect for tasks such as marking serial numbers, barcodes, and data matrices on various metal surfaces.

Additionally, fiber lasers boast a longer lifespan and typically require less maintenance than CO2 lasers. This is due to their solid-state construction, eliminating the need for fragile CO2 tubes that require frequent replacement. 

Moreover, fiber lasers are more compact and energy-efficient than counterparts of CO2, appealing to businesses seeking to save space and reduce operational costs.

An emerging trend is the use of fiber lasers for metal cleaning applications, effectively removing rust, paint, and other contaminants from metal objects. This innovative capability further enhances the versatility and usefulness of fiber lasers in various industrial and manufacturing settings.

Cons

However, fiber lasers have limitations, especially in non-metallic applications. One significant drawback is their limited versatility in cutting a wide range of materials. 

Despite technological advancements addressing this issue, fiber lasers still struggle with materials like wood, acrylic, and rubber, which are commonly used in many manufacturing and crafting applications.

OMTech 20W Fiber Laser Marking Engraving Machine

About this type, we recommend the OMTech 30W fiber laser-making engraving machine with a 6.9'' X 6.9'' working area. 

It operates with an MTTF exceeding 100,000 hours. Equipped with a solid-state JPT MOPA laser source and a Sino-Galvo scanning system, it ensures accurate and fast marking on flat surfaces. 

Compatible with LightBurn for easy pattern creation, it features safety controls, and red dot guidance for quick focusing, and achieves dark marks on various materials with ease.

Diode Lasers

Diode laser engravers are solid-state lasers made from semiconductor materials. They emit intense laser beams from a junction called a p-n junction. 

By applying a potential difference, electrons and holes move, creating coherent laser beams. 

Multiple diode lasers can be grouped for higher intensity. These lasers are directed with mirrors and focused with a lens to vaporize materials upon contact.

Diode lasers are affordable, with prices between $150 and $2000, making them ideal for beginners. Their compact size fits well in home workshops or small spaces, allowing for easy integration into creative environments. 

However, they have low power, typically from 1W to 20W, which limits their ability to cut through thicker materials and may require multiple passes for detailed engraving. 

Most diode lasers lack an enclosure, posing safety risks and requiring operation in well-ventilated areas. Safety glasses are essential to protect against accidental exposure to the laser beam.

UV LASERS

UV lasers use ultraviolet light to make marks by breaking chemical bonds without causing heat damage. 

UV lasers’ common wavelength is 355nm, they can also operate across a range in the ultraviolet spectrum according to different desired outcomes. They shoot powerful photons for precise marks while keeping materials safe. UV lasers absorb well across different materials like metal, plastic, and glass, making clear and lasting marks, perfect for many industries.

UV lasers are perfect for delicate materials and versatile processing. They engrave glass, plastics, and metals with precision, ideal for fine work. 

Offering high energy density for microprocessing like cutting and drilling, they ensure precision while producing minimal heat, reducing damage risk, and enhancing operator safety.

UV lasers face limitations with some materials like metals and wood unless surface markings are sufficient. UV laser machines are expensive and heavy, hindering mobility, especially in automated systems. 

Maintenance requires regular care for dust, temperature, and cooling systems to ensure optimal performance and extend the laser's lifespan.

ND: YAG LASERS

The Nd: YAG laser cutting machine offers excellent beam quality, high efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. It ensures stability, safety, precision, and reliability, making it ideal for precise cutting tasks.

It provides fast cutting speeds, high efficiency, and significant economic benefits. It produces minimal thermal deformation, resulting in smooth surfaces and small slits. It can handle various materials without tool wear or replacement and boasts a high pump efficiency of up to 20%.

However, the Nd: YAG laser has low energy conversion efficiency and high operating costs. Internal temperature gradients in the laser rod cause thermal stress, limiting power and beam quality improvements. 

Maintenance is cumbersome due to its complex structure and high costs. Its large size and need for an optical path further complicate operation.

COMPARING DIFFERENT TYPES OF LASER ENGRAVERS

When exploring laser engravers, it's crucial to understand how they differ in various aspects. Let's compare them across key factors to help you make an informed decision.

LASER POWER AND ENGRAVING SPEED

Different types of laser engravers vary in their laser power and engraving speed. CO2 engravers typically offer a wider range of power options, suitable for both delicate and heavy-duty engraving tasks. Fiber laser engravers, however, are renowned for their high-speed performance, making them ideal for quick and precise engraving on metal surfaces.

ENGRAVING PROCESS AND CONTROL

The engraving process and control mechanisms differ across laser engraver types. CO2 engravers often feature more customizable settings, allowing users to adjust parameters such as laser intensity and speed for precise results. Fiber laser engravers typically offer more automated control systems, streamlining the engraving process for efficiency and consistency.

RANGE OF MATERIALS AND APPLICATIONS

Consider the range of materials each type of laser engraver can work with. CO2 engravers are versatile and capable of engraving on various materials like wood, acrylic, and glass. Fiber laser engravers excel in engraving metals such as stainless steel and aluminum with unmatched precision. Diode laser engravers are suitable for engraving on materials like plastic, leather, and certain types of wood.

PRECISION AND DETAIL IN ENGRAVING

Precision and detail are critical factors to consider when comparing laser engravers. Fiber laser engravers are renowned for their exceptional precision, producing intricate designs and fine details on metal surfaces. CO2 engravers also offer good precision, making them suitable for a wide range of applications requiring detailed engraving.

PRICE AND COST EFFICIENCY

Price and cost efficiency play a significant role in selecting a laser engraver. CO2 engravers are generally more affordable upfront, making them a popular choice for small businesses and hobbyists. Fiber laser engravers may have a higher initial cost but offer long-term cost efficiency due to their high-speed performance and minimal maintenance requirements. Diode laser engravers are typically the most budget-friendly option, suitable for basic engraving needs without breaking the bank.

By considering these factors, you can determine which type of laser engraver best suits your specific requirements and budget. Whether you prioritize engraving speed, precision, versatility, or cost efficiency, there's a laser engraver out there to meet your needs.

CONCLUSION

So, there you have it - a rundown on laser engravers! From CO2 lasers to fiber lasers, diode lasers, UV lasers, and Nd: YAG lasers, each type brings its own set of pros and cons to the table. 

Whether you're looking for versatility, precision, speed, or affordability, there's a laser engraver out there to suit your needs. Just weigh factors like engraving power, material compatibility, and cost efficiency, and you'll be well on your way to choosing the perfect tool for your engraving projects. Happy engraving!

FAQS

WHAT TYPE OF LASER IS BEST FOR ENGRAVING?

The best type of laser for engraving depends on the materials you intend to work with and the level of detail you require.

Generally, CO2 lasers are versatile and well-suited for engraving on non-metal materials like wood, acrylic, and glass. They offer good precision and can handle a wide range of thicknesses. 

However, if you primarily work with metals, fiber lasers are more suitable due to their ability to create precise markings on metal surfaces. 

For intricate designs and fine details,  fiber lasers typically outperform other types of lasers. 

What’s more, you also need to consider your budget and the specific project needs.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DIODE AND CO2 LASER ENGRAVERS?

The main difference between diode and CO2 laser engravers lies in their technology and optimal applications. 

Diode lasers use semiconductor diodes to emit light in the infrared spectrum, with wavelengths ranging from 650 to 950 nanometers. In contrast, CO2 lasers utilize a gas mixture for their laser source, emitting light in the infrared spectrum at wavelengths centering on  9.6 and 10.6 micrometers.

Diode lasers are best suited for engraving wood, leather, and some plastics due to their shorter wavelength, while CO2 lasers excel in engraving non-metal materials like wood, acrylic, and glass. Each type offers unique advantages based on its wavelength range and application suitability.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CO2 LASER AND A FIBER LASER?

The main difference between a CO2 laser and a fiber laser lies in their respective laser sources and the materials they are best suited for engraving. 

CO2 lasers use a gas mixture as their laser source and are ideal for engraving non-metallic materials like wood, acrylic, glass, and plastics. 

On the other hand, fiber lasers utilize a solid-state laser source and are primarily used for engraving metals such as stainless steel, aluminum, and brass. 

Additionally, fiber lasers offer higher precision and faster engraving speeds compared to CO2 lasers when working with metal surfaces.

Related Articles

OMTech Laser
·
26.March.2024
The best laser engraving machines for small businesses in 2024
Laser engraving machines offer unmatched precision and versatility to small businesses, enabling them to customize products and mass-produce quickly and efficiently.
OMTech Laser
·
07.March.2024
Top 5 CO2 Laser Engraving Machines in 2024
Let's explore the most popular CO2 laser engraving machines that are captivating users' attention in 2024. Enthusiasts, artists, and businesses are seeking cutting-edge tools that offer precision, speed, and versatility for their engraving needs.
OMTech Laser
·
29.February.2024
5 Best Laser Engraving Machines and Cutters in 2024
Laser engraving and cutting technology has advanced significantly in 2024, with advanced machines for hobbyists and professionals alike that can enhance creativity and productivity. Here we present the top 5 laser engraving machines of the year.