Step-by-step guide to glass engraving with the rotary attachment - Part 1

Steve Opioka

In the trade, we are all familiar with the fascinating glass laser engravings that are often produced through sandblasting or chemical etching in mass production. But did you know that you can learn the art of glass engraving, specifically engraving glasses, with your OMTech laser engraver? With some practice, you can create impressive, customizable pieces that not only compete with purchased products but surpass them.

In this article, we will delve into how to select the best types of glass for laser engraving, create/select and set up laser engraving designs for glass, use a laser rotary attachment, and finally, learn how to laser engrave glasses and finish the final laser-engraved glass piece.

Which glass is suitable?

Certain types of glass are suitable for CO2 laser engraving due to their composition and properties. Glass types that work well for CO2 laser engraving include:

  1. Float glass: Float glass is commonly used for laser engraving. It is typically flat, transparent, and suitable for laser processing. It is important to ensure that it is not tempered, as tempered glass is often more difficult to engrave due to its hardness.
  2. Crystal glass: High-quality crystal glass can also be used for laser engraving. However, it can vary depending on the exact composition and manufacturing process, so it is advisable to conduct test engravings.
  3. Glass with special coating: Some glasses are specially coated to enhance engraving efficiency. These coatings can help improve laser energy absorption and minimize reflection.

It is important to note that the exact suitability of the glass for CO2 laser engraving depends on various factors, including the power of the laser engraving device, the wavelength of the laser, and the desired engraving depth. Before starting engraving on a specific glass, it is advisable to perform test runs to determine the best settings and results. Additionally, you should follow the recommendations of your laser engraving device manufacturer and consult the glass manufacturer if necessary.

Where is CO2 laser engraving used?

CO2 laser engraving on glass is used in various fields to create precise and permanent markings or decorations on glass surfaces. Here are some of the most common applications:

  1. Industrial marking and labeling: In the industry, CO2 laser engraving on glass is used for the permanent marking of products, serial numbers, barcode information, and other identification features. This is often done for product traceability and improving quality assurance.
  2. Advertising: CO2 laser engraving is used for producing promotional items and personalized gifts on glass. Drinking glasses, wine glasses, mirrors, and other glass products can be adorned with precise engravings to make them unique and individualized.
  3. Art and crafts: Artists utilize CO2 laser engravings on glass to create intricate patterns, designs, and illustrations. These can be exhibited in galleries or used as decorative elements in living spaces.
  4. Architectural applications: In architecture, CO2 laser engraving on glass is employed in the production of decorative glass elements such as windows, doors, or partitions. This technique allows for fine patterns and designs on glass surfaces.
  5. Awards: CO2 laser engravings are often used for crafting trophies, awards, and commemorative plaques on glass. These can be presented at events, competitions, or ceremonies.
  6. Optical elements: In the manufacturing of optical elements like lenses or prisms, CO2 laser engraving on glass is utilized to add specific markings or information without compromising the optical properties.

CO2 laser engraving on glass offers high precision and enables the creation of intricate designs on a variety of glass surfaces. As a result, this technology is employed in various industries to fulfill aesthetic, functional, or labeling requirements.

Rotary unit features/operation:

A rotary unit for a CO2 laser is a device that allows engraving or cutting cylindrical or tubular objects. This unit is often referred to as a "Rotary Attachment" and is particularly useful when engraving items such as glasses, bottles, cups, or cylinders. The rotary unit rotates the object being processed during the engraving or cutting process to ensure uniform and precise processing across the entire surface.

The key features of a rotary unit are:

Motor control: The unit has a motor that rotates the object evenly. The rotational speed can often be adjusted.

Clamping devices: There are clamping devices to ensure that the object to be engraved is securely and stably held during the rotation process.

Compatibility: The rotary unit must be compatible with the specific CO2 laser device it is used with.

Adjustable diameter: Many rotary units allow for adjustment to accommodate various object diameters, enabling the processing of a variety of items.

It is important to ensure that the rotary unit is compatible with the specific CO2 laser model and that the required software and hardware are available to effectively utilize the rotation function.

What are the most common rotary units?

4-wheel rotary axis (roller): LRA-GL49

With a maximum distance of 30 cm between the two sets of drive wheels, this rotary axis attachment is ideal for objects ranging from 5 cm to 35 cm in length and 1 cm to 15 cm in diameter.

Perfect for cylindrical or irregularly shaped objects.

Also suitable for objects with handles.

Rotary axis chuck (jaw chuck): LRA-KP58

It is suitable for objects ranging from 2 cm to 22 cm in length and 0.5 cm to 8 cm in diameter.

Features two sets of jaws (inner and outer).

Secure grip to prevent slipping, allowing for higher speeds.

Slower production process due to the need to loosen and reattach objects.

Rotary axis rollers: LRA-0730

It is suitable for objects ranging from 2 cm to 22 cm in length and 0.5 cm to 8 cm in diameter.

Easy to operate and allows for quick and easy exchange of objects to be engraved.

Not suitable for irregularly shaped objects and objects with handles.

Objects can easily slip, so a second pass is not recommended.