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View Full Version : Engraving etching aluminum / metal with some depth to it



Don Nguyen
07-16-2016, 1:33 PM
I feel like I have hit a wall in my research, so hopefully you guys can help me out to give me additional ideas/topics to read up on.

What I am looking to do is be able to etch / engrave primarily aluminum and possibly steel to a depth of roughly .005" or a few thousandths more than that. What type of laser engraver heads and power/wattage levels should I be looking into to accomplish engraving on metal to that depth? From what I have researched, it seems like galvo is the way to go for me and power range maybe around 80 watts?

Also, kind of a side question. I have noticed some lasers simply have a red dot to mark the center point and other laser engravers outline an entire red box of the area being engraved, etc. What type of option is that?

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks!

Kev Williams
07-16-2016, 2:29 PM
You need a galvo steered fiber or a yag for engraving metal, not necessarily 80 watts though. I suppose you could engrave metal with a high-power (several hundred watt) C02 machine, but I think slag would be a problem (it's a problem with any laser).

As for red pointers, a galvo machine steers the beam with one moving mirror, therefore it can also steer the red pointer in the shape of a box (or any other shape it wants, but 4 sides is all ya get)

Nothing wrong with a single dot pointer, those are what you get with X-Y gantry machines. It might not be as 'automatic' as a whole red box but it works...

Steve Morris
07-16-2016, 5:02 PM
probably fibre is best but whether galvo or gantry depends on the work area you want to cover.

Don Nguyen
07-18-2016, 7:15 PM
Thanks for the info. With the info, I did some more researching and refined it down to that what may work well for my application is something around ~40-50 watt range through a galvo fiber laser.

Most of my experience on a laser machine is on an Epilog Zing machine, so that's my current only comparison/reference point.

I don't think I would mind trying to find a used US based galvo fiber laser machine, but I feel like I should keep the possible option of Chinese made machines as a possibility as well. Any suggestions on manufacturers to look into that make good galvo fiber machines?

Gary Hair
07-18-2016, 8:25 PM
I feel like I should keep the possible option of Chinese made machines as a possibility as well. Any suggestions on manufacturers to look into that make good galvo fiber machines?

I have two G. Weike machines and although I'm happy with the machine, I won't give them a penny more of my business after the last purchase. I bought three machines, one for me and the other two for friends, and they were not configured how they should have been, all were missing the motorized Z axis. Lucy, the sales rep, was extremely difficult to work with in getting it resolved and handled it very poorly. Their mistake cost me extra customs/duties fees as well as additional shipping of the replacement parts to the other purchasers.
I will buy my next machine from BJJCZ, their support is phenomenal - they understand English as well as anyone I've ever emailed, not so with G. Weike. G. Weike seems to understand English much better before the sale than after...

John Kleiber
07-18-2016, 9:56 PM
Out of the 15 plus emails I have sent BJJCZ, I have probably received at best 3 replies.
Of the 3 replies, all were 100% useless.
So with that said, if you know of someone at BJJCZ what can actually offer a solution and articulate it, feel free to message me.

Gary Hair
07-18-2016, 11:54 PM
Out of the 15 plus emails I have sent BJJCZ, I have probably received at best 3 replies.
Of the 3 replies, all were 100% useless.
So with that said, if you know of someone at BJJCZ what can actually offer a solution and articulate it, feel free to message me.

I'm surprised by that based on my experience. I was emailing Shawn at technic@bjjcz.com His English is excellent!

John Kleiber
07-19-2016, 3:18 PM
I'm surprised by that based on my experience. I was emailing Shawn at technic@bjjcz.com His English is excellent!

Yes, thats the one, technic@bjjcz.com, I emailed Shawn, he emailed me back some follow up questions. I not only answered his questions but also attached images and examples..... then, nothing.

I emailed him a follow up..... nothing but crickets, nada, nothing, dead air.

Did I figure out the issue myself? yes and with zero help from them.

-John

Gary Hair
07-19-2016, 4:37 PM
Either I caught him on a good day or you caught him on a bad day... Or maybe "Shawn" is the name multiple people use at tech support and your "Shawn" wasn't as adept as mine?

Nicolas Silva
07-19-2016, 5:37 PM
What I am looking to do is be able to etch / engrave primarily aluminum and possibly steel to a depth of roughly .005" or a few thousandths more than that. What type of laser engraver heads and power/wattage levels should I be looking into to accomplish engraving on metal to that depth?

Have you looked at a ULS laser with a HPDFO setup? It can directly mark metals. Not sure about the depth though.



Also, kind of a side question. I have noticed some lasers simply have a red dot to mark the center point and other laser engravers outline an entire red box of the area being engraved, etc. What type of option is that?


The red dot is positioning dot which lets you find the exact x-y position of were the beam would be. The box is a 'frame' option which lets you see how much room your job is going to use of your material. I find the frame option unnecessary since you can draw a box around your job and run just the box to get that info.

Kev Williams
07-19-2016, 5:47 PM
I have nothing but good to say about Triumph- If I want to have some custom length lens tubes made, new mirrors, or know the weather forecast for Beijing this Saturday, all I have to do email Yolanda, and I'll get an email back! :) And while her typed English isn't the best, I haven't had trouble understanding what she's saying...

Their only flaw as I can tell is they're still a small company-- at this time I'm their only US buyer of a fiber laser. When I was diagnosing my stepper problem, their engineers (which are probably just a couple of young guys I'm sure) were very interested in what I found as they had another customer with the same problem. To be sure, they're building their machines with available off-the-shelf parts like most other laser mfr's in China, and while not perfect, I have no complaints on build quality.

I've never failed to have an email answered, and while I haven't needed much help, what I have needed -like the custom lens tubes I needed made and troubleshooting suggestions- help was quick and prices reasonable.

Dave Sheldrake
07-20-2016, 7:43 AM
Have you looked at a ULS laser with a HPDFO setup? It can directly mark metals. Not sure about the depth though.

It's just a beam expander and short focal length lens system. It doesn't change the wavelength or photon energy so will only mark the surface of some metals like stainless.

Don Nguyen
07-28-2016, 11:54 PM
Ok, so I wanted to do some more research on my own before posting another question. All of the information has been very helpful with my search.

After talking to some manufacturers. I have had one tell me that for a galvo fiber laser, if I am doing engraving on metal, that I do not need a fume extraction/filtration system. Is that correct? I wasn't able to search in particular for answers to that question.

I think based on my research, it may be between Argus and BJJCZ, just from the support that I have received from talking to the reps of each company so far. If anyone has additional information or input on either of those two companies, it'd be appreciated as well, since there's not much that I was able to find about them when searching google and the forums.

Thanks!

Gary Hair
07-29-2016, 12:45 AM
I have extraction on my fiber as well as my co2. I don't know if the byproducts of lasering with the fiber are anything to be concerned about, but I am not willing to take a chance. If you saw the dust and detritus trail to the exhaust tube, you'd likely not question whether it's necessary or not.

As to the two companies - I've never heard of Argus so I can't comment on them. I bought a new controller for my first fiber from BJJCZ and from the first contact until I had it connected, configured, and fully functional, they were awesome! I've dealt with G. Weike quite a bit for both of my fibers and I will never work with them again! I will, however, buy my next machine from BJJCZ. Someone else here posted about a not-so-good experience with BJJCZ tech support, but that was not my experience.

Don Nguyen
08-03-2016, 1:16 PM
I've noticed that the galvo fiber type machines, like the one you have from gweike, typically do not come with an enclosure. What or how did you end up setting up your machines for filtration, etc? Did you build your own enclosures or did you get one supplied from the manufacture?

Thanks


I have extraction on my fiber as well as my co2. I don't know if the byproducts of lasering with the fiber are anything to be concerned about, but I am not willing to take a chance. If you saw the dust and detritus trail to the exhaust tube, you'd likely not question whether it's necessary or not.

As to the two companies - I've never heard of Argus so I can't comment on them. I bought a new controller for my first fiber from BJJCZ and from the first contact until I had it connected, configured, and fully functional, they were awesome! I've dealt with G. Weike quite a bit for both of my fibers and I will never work with them again! I will, however, buy my next machine from BJJCZ. Someone else here posted about a not-so-good experience with BJJCZ tech support, but that was not my experience.

Gary Hair
08-03-2016, 1:58 PM
I have a 2" hose running to my exhaust fan that I move around where needed on the fiber. Nothing elaborate at all, about as low-tech as can be.

Don Nguyen
08-03-2016, 2:03 PM
Interesting. So no enclosure on your fiber machine? Do you feel the need to shield yourself from the laser that's being emitted from the machine either?

Thanks for the info

Gary Hair
08-03-2016, 2:18 PM
No enclosure. I don't feel like it's really a threat to me at the distance I would be from a stray beam. Plus, the chance of a beam being reflected at me are probably pretty slim. Do whatever makes you feel safe and comfortable, my choice to do it this way may not be advisable.

Don Nguyen
08-03-2016, 2:37 PM
Understood, makes sense. I may be getting very close now to buying my machine. Fiber seems a lot simpler of a machine than a co2 based machine, since fiber doesn't have any cooling needed, minimal air filtration, and according to the manufacturer, no extra parts that I should order as spares because there's nothing on the fiber machine that will really wear out from use.

Gary Hair
08-03-2016, 4:20 PM
A fiber is much easier to maintain than a co2 but figuring out settings can be a real pain because there are so many variables compared to co2. You have power and speed, just like co2, but then you add in frequency, hatch type, hatch quantity, hatch angle, hatch spacing, and a few others, and things can get complicated pretty fast. The good news is that if you are simply engraving metal then you'll only need a few different settings. I have engraved all kinds of plastics and needed to get results from deep engraving to no depth but a color change, and it took a lot of experimenting. Overall, you can do less with a fiber than a co2 but the materials you can mark with a fiber mark better than a co2 and get depth that is not possible with co2. If you can get both co2 and fiber, there isn't much you wouldn't be able to mark.

Kev Williams
08-03-2016, 4:55 PM
After talking to some manufacturers. I have had one tell me that for a galvo fiber laser, if I am doing engraving on metal, that I do not need a fume extraction/filtration system. Is that correct?
Thanks!
Yeah, but--- I've been engraving aluminum boxes that have been powdercoated first. And that crap smokes and stinks----



I have a 2" hose running to my exhaust fan that I move around where needed on the fiber. Nothing elaborate at all, about as low-tech as can be.
Like most things in my shop, I can relate to 'low tech' :D --
Here's mine, sharing suction with the LS900 :)

341898341899

Scott Challoner
08-04-2016, 1:43 PM
I mainly make black marks on stainless so I just got a fume extractor like you use at a soldering station. When I needed to do a job that actually engraved into the metal I noticed smoke and debris in the beam path like Gary said. I figured that if I could see it, it was also blocking the beam so I positioned a small fan to blow on the work area (like air assist). To my surprise, it made a huge difference. When I turned the fan on, the flash got brighter and louder too. A good exhaust (and maybe a fan) can be helpful in my opinion.