View Full Version : Hello all!

Alina Roata
07-21-2005, 1:15 PM

My name is Alina and I work in a trophy shop in Windsor, Ontario.
I was hired in november last year to work on the laser engraver the company just had bought.
Since I had no idea about lasering on different materials, I searched the Internet, and this is how I found this discussion board.
Since then, I keep reading the posts and most of the time apply the info you post here.

I have to thank you all for the tremenduous quantity of information I read and learned and I want to congratulate the ones who thought to make it happen.

My equipment is a 30W Versa Laser. I wish I could say I'm happy with it, but I can't. Like so many others on this forum, I have my own problems with this equipment and I don't know what to do to solve them.

For example, after two weeks since it started to actually work, I encountered the first problem. I took off the lenses, in order to clean them (it is actually just one, but it has the mirror too), and since that day I lost 3 inches of my engraving surface. My new origin starts at 3 inches horizontally; everything I place and try to engrave in those 3 inches comes out "banded", just like when you send a gradient fill to a regular printer. I was not able to fix the problem, even if I asked my technical representative and I sent him samples of materials. He couldn't help me so far.

My new problem is related to glass engraving. We just bought the rotary equipment and some Riedel glasses.
I engraved a few letters and a logo on them and I just can't get an even quality along the engraved surface.

Did anyone else encounter the same problem?
Is there anything I should do (and maybe I don't yet) to avoid it?

I tried to attach pictures of the issues, but I got an error message. I will try again later.

Thank you, guys, for taking the time to read my long post and don't forget I need help... please!

Thank you,


Chuck Burke
07-21-2005, 1:27 PM
When using a laser to engrave "glass" you need to be aware of the lead content of the glass.
A rule of thumb when using a laser to engrave glass is to use "cheap" glass because it has less metal in it. The metal will cause the beam to reflect and make the engraving "eratic"... I believe Riedel crystal has a high lead content and this may be causing your problem... as for the other parts of your situation you should seek our Mike McKenzie. He is very knowledgeable and helpful with Universal products.

Chuck Burke
American Pacific Awards....

Alina Roata
07-21-2005, 2:02 PM
Hi Chuck,

Thank you for answering.

Yes, I know about the lead and it's influence over the process of engraving. Actually, Riedel glasses are made of crystal and on the box it says "lead free".
From what I read so far, I understood that the presence of the lead is a good thing for engraving and the cheap glass works better with lasers.
I engraved yesterday other glasses, cheap ones, and I can't complain, they engraved fine.
This lead free crystal makes some cracking noises when lasered, even if I cant see any crack on the glass.

I will try whatever crosses my mind and I will post the results on the forum.

Thank you again for helping me!


Shaddy Dedmore
07-21-2005, 2:19 PM
Also, what are the shapes of the glasses? the laser goes back and forth and needs a flat surface (relative to its head). You could etch on a taper, but you're need to compensate to make it flat for the head. If it's like a goblet, you can't compensate, the roundness would throw it off. As in, the laser would focus at one point, then the rest of the curve would be sloser or farther away.

Sorry if you already know that, but it's good to say anyway, just in case others are getting into it.

Seeing the pics would sure help, do you remember what the error was? Maybe the pics were too big.

I have a site up for storing and linking to pictures for another forum, you could borrow it if you want. http://theoak.shaddysengraving.com/photos (http://theoak.shaddysengraving.com/photo/)
There's a tutorial of sorts on the first page. Some of it won't apply. But help yourself if you want.

I have an Epilog laser, so i can't offer anything with the other problems. It's weird that your problem occured with the removing of the mirror though.

Welcome to the Saw Mill.

Alina Roata
07-21-2005, 4:03 PM

I didn't think they might be too big :o ...
Thank you, Shaddy!

So,the shape of the glass is goblet. It is called "tumbler O". The difference between the diameter mesured for the top of the engraving and the one for the bottom is quite noticeable.
I don't want to look smart, I just have questions I can't answer.
I thought at first too that this might be the problem, but there are areas well engraved and areas "skipped", or barely touched, as you can see in the pictures.
Could it be a difference in the thickness of the glass?

Also, the surface of this glass is peeling off when engraved over, so I guess I should stick with what I get the first time, like for leather engraving.

I kept engraving meanwhile some other glasses from the same line, like flutes and regular shaped wine stem glasses and they worked better. The surface still peels when engraved over, but I get a better quality on the first attempt.
I noticed that those glasses are just a little bit thicker than the "tumblers".

I also tried to engrave thru wet newspaper and it didn't work (it skipped too many areas of the drawing).
My Versa doesn't allow me to control the speed, only the intensity (between -20% to +20%) and what I can say so far is that, for this kind of glasses, 0 is the best choice.

I attached some pics, maybe they can explain better my frustrations.

Thanks again for the help!


Shaddy Dedmore
07-21-2005, 5:43 PM
hmmm, that looks odd. But you knew that, that's why you're here. :) Are you etching through a mask that might have developed bubbles? If there're layers that are actually flaking off, it looks like it's the glass. Can't say why it's flaking apart though.

It's not due to the difference in distance away from the lens though, it's too inconsistant for that. At least I think so. Did you say you tried a different glass that worked better? It almost looks like there's a coating on the glass that you're etching through. can't say I've ever run into that though. It just looks that way from the picture, the way parts flaked off.

Have you tried a paper tape mask? Can't do that withough bubble on rounded surfaces. But then you could wet it and it would stick, I've been unseccessful with newpaper. You could also make like a mix of water and liquid soap (more soap than water)(or 100% soap, less bubbles) and spread that on. Run at a higher resolution.

I've had a fairly frosty look using 600dpi, etching through a dampened (water only) papertape mask. I used 100% power and 100% speed on my 45W epilog. I've seen many different settings listed here. A lot depends on the mask or lack there of that you're trying to burn through.

I can't say about the banding and other issues, but it's suprising to hear you're not getting enough help from the manuf.


Mike Mackenzie
07-21-2005, 5:44 PM

Hi My name is Mike Mackenzie. Let me see if I can help you with your issues. First off with the 3" origin change. What happened is the software that drives the system got scrambled some how what you need to do is to UN-install the software completely re-start the computer and then re-load the program. If you can tell me what version you have I can let you know if it is the current one. If it is not I can PM the current version to you. This will correct the origin problem.

Now with the glass this is a problem with the glass not the laser you would see the same results if done on any laser system. What you need to try is use a lighter setting by either lowering the intensity down to -20 or try to use the light wood setting. You can also try to put some liquid soap onto the glass before lasering to see if that helps.

Also if the area that is getting engraved changes focus manually focus between the highest point and the lowest point In other words focus in the middle..

Let me know how things work out and if I can help any further.

Bruce Volden
07-21-2005, 6:02 PM

I'm with Mike on this one. It IS the glass. Probably a better quality glass at that. What I do for weddings etc. is get a sample / sacrificial glass , goblet, flute and see if it is possible to do a good job. Also sometimes the power and speed settings need to be dialed it. Usually I run 20 ~ 28 percent power and 30 ~ 35 percent speed. I also never run more than 300 DPI (usually 200 DPI) and always have it slightly out of focus. I have had the glass fracture or crack on occasion and attributed this to too much dwell time, too sharp of focus and too much power. I have a 25W machine (LMI). Good luck

Lee DeRaud
07-21-2005, 10:36 PM
What you need to try is use a lighter setting by either lowering the intensity down to -20 or try to use the light wood setting.Mike, that business of "My Versa doesn't allow me to control the speed, only the intensity (between -20% to +20%)" sounds like the "basic" VL200 driver...I've never been able to tell whether that +/-20 setting affects the power, the speed, or both. Is there any way for Alina to get the "advanced" driver at this point? It would make figuring out the settings a whole lot easier.

Alina Roata
07-22-2005, 12:04 AM
Hi everyone,

I guess I should answer the questions.

Shaddy: No, it was not lasered thru a mask of any kind. The manual (if it can be called a manual - no offense, Mike) doesn't say anything about masking and my boss told me that the salesman (also the technical rep) engraved a glass without any masking. So I tried the first samples (on cheap glass) "dry" and it worked. It's this Riedel crystal the actual problem. You are right, it is flaking off.
During the engraving, I heard some cracking noises and I thought the glass cracked. I heard those noises at all the Riedel glasses I engraved. They didn't crack, though, what happened was just that the superficial layer peeled off. I checked one glass right after lasering and it looked odd, because I had just parts of the words; suddently, I heard a cracking noise and a layer of glass flaked off, exposing one of the missing letters. So, I paid more attention at the next jobs and I noticed it happened again.
I agree with all of you, it is the glass, not the printer.

I changed the settings (since the glass is ruined anyway, at least I could learn something from it) and I engraved with the lowest intensity, then with the highest intensity, then with the normal intensity (0, in my case). I can't say I found an answer, I just know so far that what worked for this glass won't necessarely work for the next one, even if it has the same shape, size and comes from the same box. But if I go over a job again, I get a better result.
After the second run the glass peels more. If I get a chance, I'll take pictures tomorrow too. I use a hard kind of brush and try to remove as much glass flakes as possible. I guess they will eventually come off..

Mike: Hi, I was hoping you'll read my message.
The 3" origin is not a printer's default, it's my choice. If I place the plate at 3" or more, I get a good result, if I put it between 0 and 3" I get the banding effect. I removed the lenses since then many times, but I couldn't get the printer to work properly again.
I got recently an update to my driver (yes, it is a 200, Lee is right), but I just installed it over the old one, I didn't think about un-installing the driver and then re-installing it (the printer recognizes the real origin). I will try that first thing tomorrow, when I go to work (if I get a chance, we have an art walk in the neighborhood, so I'm not sure if I will be able to touch the computer). I will check the version and I will let you know.
I will also try what you suggested, to pick the mid-way diameter instead of the top one. As I said before, for the tumbler glass, the difference between the two diameters is big, I will try to get an exact number. But I still can't explain why some areas did engrave well, though...

Bruce: Hi Bruce, you are right. It is fair to ask for a sample if you don't work with your material. I just started to work with glasses, we just bought the rotary equipment and the only glasses we had "in stock" were some older wedding flutes. My boss ordered the Riedel glasses, we paid lots of money for them and it can get really frustrating when you can't use them for the initial purpose. We want to re-sell them engraved, but we have to make sure we can engrave them properly before presenting them to the customers. Right now, I am not able to guarantee anything. We thought maybe logos are a bad idea (which I still don't believe), but the weird effect shows on letters too, not just on bitmaps.
I can't change too many setting on my printer. Just the intensity, in a range of +/-20%.
As for the resolution, I noticed too that for pictures (and I mean shades of gray) 200 dpi is better than both 300 or 150. You are right again.

Lee: Hi Lee, thanks for helping me! What exactly is the "advanced" driver?
As for the changes that come with the intensity, I didn't figure out that part either. I can see a difference when lasering on wood, but it's from the driver, I can't make the printer go faster or slower. Probably that is what Mike means by using light wood settings and -20% intensity... That would slow down the "speed" in an artificial way...

Thank you all for all the ideas and advices. I feel so much better now, that I see I can get help with my nightmares!http://www.sawmillcreek.org/images/icons/icon7.gif
I will try to take some new pics of the banding effect, if it still shows on after re-installing (hopefully not).
And I still have to try to engrave glass thru a mask, either paper tape or dish soap.

I will let you know what the changes are.
Have a good rest!

Lee DeRaud
07-22-2005, 12:15 AM
Lee: Hi Lee, thanks for helping me! What exactly is the "advanced" driver?I'll let Mike explain why, but what software you get with a VL200 depends on what flavor dealer you bought it from.

(Which is why I'm really glad I bought mine from Mike and Treavor! :cool: )

Alina Roata
07-22-2005, 12:20 AM
I envy you!

I wish I could have had the opportunity to say something before my boss bought the laser, but I wasn't working here then...http://www.sawmillcreek.org/images/icons/icon9.gif

James Stokes
07-22-2005, 1:42 AM
That is the very reason I do not laser etch glass. I get the same effect myself. You can take a razor blade and scrape the glass to get the flaking off. What I generally do is put a mask on the glass, laser etch then sandblast lightly. This will give you a much better look.

Mike Mackenzie
07-22-2005, 1:31 PM

The advanced driver is available for the Versa lasers however you have to get it from a Universal representative the Versa Dealers are not allowed to give those drivers out. It has to do with training and support which the ULS reps do and the versa dealers don't.

Ask your boss who he bought the system from if it was a ULS rep then give them a call and ask for that driver and some training on how to use it. It is not difficult but there are certain things you have to know before using it.

The Advanced driver gives you much more control over the power and speed settings.

One other thing when I suggested to try the light wood setting on the glass what This will do is to use a power and speed that may work better for that glass it is certainly worth it to try.

Let me know on that issue with the banding effect in that corner if the upgrade does not correct it then I would have to say that something just came loose and that is why it is only happening in that area. I can then instruct you on what to look for and how to correct it.

Alina Roata
07-22-2005, 10:28 PM

I just came back from work.
Didn't have a chance to turn on the computer, so I wasn't able to apply any of the suggestions.

I will get back to you Monday.

Mike, I still don't know the version of the drvier. I have to find out if our dealer is a Universal rep, I am not sure about that. But I will ask him about the advanced driver and see what he says.
James, unfortunatelly I only have a laser, I can't sandblast. But I will try to scrape the glass as you said.

Have a good weekend!
Thank you all for everything!


Nick Adams
07-25-2005, 12:02 PM
As far as the banding goes, My epilog will also band if the turnaround time is to high while using a higher speed. Or using a slower speed with a fast accel rate. I would go through and explain this but since I do not work with a versalaser or any of the ULS systems it would be somewhat silly because I don't know if those settings are available for you to alter. However If I get some time I will make a small illistration of what I am saying.

Glass. When engraving glass you are fracturing the surface. IMO it looks as though you are using slightly to much power or it is building to much heat in that localized area. Basically allowing the "chipped" areas to raise and flake off. Some 000 steel wool works Nicely to remove the rest of the flaking glass. However you tend to lose some of the "frost" look.

Sandblasting (although I am not set up to do it either) Is the best way to get a consistant color/frost and depth while engraving glass.

This is all IMO however and doesn't reflect others views =)

Alina Roata
07-25-2005, 12:19 PM

I am SOOOOOOO happy!
I uninstalled and then re-installed the driver and it worked!
I got rid of that banding effect now and my printer works fine.

Thank you again, Mike for the suggestion.

I also tried to scrape off the glass flakes with a razor blade and it seems to work. But I am not sure I would like to do that every time I engrave a Riedel glass, so I will try the other suggestions you guys gave me. (I didn't have a chance yet)

Mike: the version of my driver is 1.28.3. I e-mailed the rep asking about the advanced driver, but I don't have an answer yet.

I will keep you updated with the results when I get them.

Thank God this forum exists!http://www.sawmillcreek.org/images/icons/icon14.gif


PS - Nick, I guess my problem was a driver one. I had that banding effect all the way down (on Y axis) and 3" across (X axis), no matter what I engraved and how. Now it works fine again.
My settings allow me to modify the intensity only (or, if I "cheat" and pick the settings for a different material, I might get a different speed also).
I agree with you, I probably have too much power (reported to the speed) and that is why I am looking forward to apply Mike's suggestions. I wish I can find the right setting sooner, because the engraving on this Riedel crystal seems to look so much better than on a regular glass...
I will post some pics when I get good results.

Mike Mackenzie
07-25-2005, 12:36 PM

That is the current version of software for the Versa. I am glad to hear that re-Installing the software corrected your problem. I am still curious if using the light wood setting on the glasses helped.

Let me know.

Lee DeRaud
07-25-2005, 1:14 PM
That is the current version of software for the Versa. I am glad to hear that re-Installing the software corrected your problem. I am still curious if using the light wood setting on the glasses helped.Mike, I probably asked you or Treavor this already but I can't remember the answer: is there any way to find out what speed/power settings the standard driver is actually producing?

Mike Mackenzie
07-25-2005, 1:34 PM

Simple answer is no with the material based driver. The settings are programed into a data base. We could go through the data base and make a chart but we would probably have to update it quite often. however it could give you guys and gals some information on what the pre programmed settings are doing.

Let me see what I can come up with.

Jerry Allen
07-25-2005, 4:02 PM
The flaky stuff is a real pain and probably not too good if ingested. I had the same problem and it never really cleans up well.
See this link:

Alina Roata
07-26-2005, 11:40 AM

I tried Mike's idea about engraving the glass using the settings for light wood.
I had some dish soap over the glass, I mesured the diameter of the glass at the middle of the engraving area and this is what I got as a result.

It is still flaking off, not so much though. The image is in 200 dpi and there are still some areas where it didn't engrave properly.
If I try to scrape off the flakes I lose some of the frost effect, as you all said.

I will keep trying until I find the solution. Probably I will never get the sand blasting quality, but all I am hoping for is an even, non-flaking engraving.

Thank you all for your help and support!


Jerry Allen
07-26-2005, 11:04 PM
Try some laser mask at high speed, fairly high power. You will be amazed at the difference.

James Hannan
08-13-2005, 12:07 AM
I have a Versalaser VL300 30 watt unit. I have read this whole thread and may have some helpful hints. I bought my VL300 from a dealer that did not know much about ULS lasers. They keep directing me back to ULS for support. In order to get you up and running quickly you need to know someone that knows your laser system and its capabilities. I have had to learn most of what I know about this system the hard way. Here are some general hints I have found and are not in any order.

In order to properly uninstall/reinstall the Versalaser driver. Use the windows add remove programs utility and restart. This has been a first thing to do if I have a problem. The 1.28.3 in the latest driver.

Never unplug the USB cable with the computer on.

In addition to cleaning the two lenses and the mirror (make sure it is seated properly) check the lens on the back wall of the unit where the beam comes out of also.

I have yet to see glassware laser engraved that looks as good as sand blasting. I recently bought a Rayzist system for 2K. They now have a laser mask resist tape you stick on your glass, laser engrave your design on it and then sand blast. Its more work but for the highend glassware work it has been the best way to go. Photbrasive also sells the laser tape. In order to do fine detail sand carving you need one of the low pressure pot sand blasters. I recently did a 250 piece wine flute order all on the laser. It took 3 minutes a glass and stacking two glass did not reduce engraving time (about 12 hours of engraving time). I would have done a better job in half the time using the sand blaster only and making my own mask using the UV photo kit. Having both systems gives me more options on how to do a job.

Re: the Versalaser advanced driver. I have it and unless you can get some settings to load from another source for your material you will have to get training to use it. There is no written documentation. It's complicated. Some of the replys in this thread mention speed and power settings but they do not apply to the standard driver. The advanced driver may not be the Magic Fix.

Make sure you have good ventilation.

Don't engrave PVC

Only clean the lenses when they need it.

I hope this helps.

I am very happy with my Versalaser and I know its limitations.

If anyone reading this has any .vls advanced driver settings they can send me please email to jimhss@aol.com