View Full Version : How Much Power?

Ronald Blue
02-28-2017, 9:09 PM
How much power is needed to engrave wood? What about cut it? I mean like the Epilog trinkets they hand out. Is there a guide that gives you a rule of thumb for what's needed for different activities?

John Noell
02-28-2017, 9:29 PM
Even 20 watts will mark most wood. The power you need depends entirely on the type of wood. How deep do you want to engrave? As for cutting, the laser is rarely the best tool for cutting wood IMO. I do engrave and then cut a lot of wooden keytags out of 2.5-5mm wood with my 100 watt Chinese machine. My 40 watt Epilog does not have enough power to do the same. Thin interior ply (but not exterior) cuts nicely as well with 40 watts.

Joe Pelonio
03-02-2017, 7:45 PM
I have cut a lot of 1/4" Oak nicely with my 45 watt Epilog. Anything thinner cuts very fast. With multiple passes I can engrave grayscale art with a 3D effect. The only problem with wood is having to clean lenses and mirrors frequently, the smoke leaves a reside on them.

Rich Harman
03-02-2017, 8:23 PM
The sample I received from Epilog was 1/8" alder, super easy to cut that. I think even the lowest power laser can handle it. I've cut 3/4 Oak with my 80W and lately I've been cutting 1/4" marine ply with my 130W. The marine ply cut edge is just barely acceptable, it requires the char to be sanded off, non marine ply in the same thickness cuts more than twice as fast with a nice golden edge.

John Noell
03-03-2017, 12:05 AM
In my experience, interior ply has a glue that lasers very nicely. Exterior (and marine) use glues that do NOT laser nicely - they leave nasty charred edges. However, even a relatively light engraving on exterior come out nice and dark. I use it for engraving maps with good contrast.

John Blazy
03-04-2017, 6:34 PM
There is no standard power / speed settings really for cutting and engraving, because all parameters are different. Once you get a laser, you will always make different settings based on needs, and test settings are quick and easy prior to doing a job, which is why listings for power / settings are only guidelines. I asked the same before I bought mine, then realized the absurdity of asking for settings because test settings are par for the course in all jobs. Engraving depends on how deep, how detailed (tight scan gaps require less power, for more detail, wider gaps for larger jobs will be different, wood species are all over the board etc).

Cutting depends on how dark your edge. I always cut slower than needed to make sure I am cutting through in areas that might be out of focus across a large panel, and to account for fillers inside the plywood that require 2X the power @ half the speed to get through. A mini saw blade on a dremel is awesome for non-cut throughs. Interior baltic birch is the best for lasering, but it has its quirks.

David Somers
03-04-2017, 9:32 PM

To take everyones thoughts a bit further.

The sweet spot on power might be around 80 watts. Above 80 watts can cause problems with engraving if you can't tone down the power level enough to control your fine engravings. (many of us find that 8 to 12 watts is as far down as we can go and still get the laser to fire. Each machine is different) But above 80 watts will cut better as a rule, and cut faster as well. So at 80 watts you are around the sweet spot between cutting and engraving. Quite a few of us with Chinese Lasers have 60 watt units, or even 40. They will all engrave fine, and they can all cut, but slower, and perhaps with more passes needed. And has been said a number of times, there is a huge variation depending on the material you are cutting, as well as how well setup your machine is in terms of alignments from one end of the optic path to the other, and how well focused you are.

Bill George
03-05-2017, 9:16 AM
FYI I have a 6 watt rated blue light diode laser machine that will mark wood and also cut it. It all depends on how much time you have. The marking is a lot faster!!