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Thread: Engraving question???????

  1. #1
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    Engraving question???????

    When doing engraving(especially text) do you do an outline before/after the engraving, or is this necessary? I just thought this would guarantee good crisp edges.

    Bruce
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  2. #2
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    Takes a LOT longer to outline each character .. unless you have a lousy laser or a totally anal customer , it's generally not needed , you have to balance time with acceptable output.
    Rodney Gold, Toker Bros trophies, Cape Town , South Africa :
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  3. #3
    I would think it depends on the size of the letters. If they are really big, it might make things look better, but I have always been happy with the edges of small letters if my settings and focus are correct.

    opinions are free, dee
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  4. #4
    I don't use an outline and if your machine is in good working order there is no reason to think that it'll give you a crisper edge. I make a lot of name tags and control panel labels so I pay pretty close attention to this detail.

    Focus and settings are more critical than anything else.
    Mike Null

    St. Louis Laser, Inc.

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  5. #5
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    I'll go against the grain here and say "it depends". On wood (especially wide-grained), I will often vector engrave the outside of text and shapes to clean it up a bit. Yes, even with tuning, I think the extra depth cut right at the edge of letters makes for a nice, sharp look.

    YMMV, so play with it and see what you like.
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  6. #6
    One thing to remember is viewing distance. This is more evident in photos.
    If you are right up on top of it you may see imperfections that at view distance are
    unoticable.

    That being said..... I do find slowing the speed down and/or kicking the DPI up does make
    a difference. I remake a handful of plates a year that another shop did that the client
    thought could be sharper. (I do most everything at 600dpi, over kill? maybe, maybe not)
    When I redo those plates they are quite a bit better than the others. It seems that others keep the
    dpi down closer to 200. Yes, it may save a bit of time, (we are talking just a few seconds here.
    but if you want high quality try to save time somewhere else.

    When I train someone new to the laser one of the first things I have them do is to run
    some tests at 100, 200, 300, 400, 600 & 1200dpi. That way they can see the effects.


    Marty
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  7. #7
    If you run at 500dpi or better, you shouldn't find the need to run an outline around the letters assuming your laser is in good shape.

    If you drop down to 200-300dpi, you will definitely see a less sharp edge. Going around the letters with an outline will sharpen things up. The question is, what's faster. 500dpi or 200-300dpi with an outline? It probably depends on the project.
    Equipment: IS400, IS6000, VLS 6.60, LS100, HP4550, Ricoh GX e3300n, Hotronix STX20
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  8. #8
    What size of font are we talking about here? If rastering a font less than say .25" I don't think it will look better if outlined. The reason is that the laser will probably have a tough time keeping a constant depth of burn all around the character. You may end up getting a lot of over-burning on square corners or tight radii. I'm sure some lasers are better than others for that, but I don't think I'd have good results with my older Mercury - regardless of whether ramp is "on" or "off".

    If rastering a very large font then there may be cases that it could help. But what I tend to do with larger deep pockets is to use a black outline and an almost-black fill. This tends to keep the outline contiguous and sharp, while making the inside look less "machined".

    Personally I'd vote for using higher resolution, making sure your left and right motions are "tuned" , and avoid outlining - regardless of size.

  9. #9
    I run at 500 dpi for nearly all engraving jobs. What I neglected to emphasize is the importance of proper settings of speed and particularly power. it is easy to overpower a material and lose the sharpness of the image.

    Dirt on the tracks or worn bearings can also produce poor results---raster and vector.
    Mike Null

    St. Louis Laser, Inc.

    Trotec Speedy 300, 80 watt
    Woodworking shop CLTT and Laser Sublimation
    Evolis Card Printer
    CorelDraw X5

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Under most circumstances with high speed low power raster engraving, outlining text , especially if the characters are small and manifold , will take a HUGE amount of time longer
    The smaller the character and the higher the speed of vector outlining , the more errors can creep in and/ or even WORSE output is a risk.
    The only time I ever outline letters is for bass relief work on casting masters , IE if the letter is raised off the surface, I use a very slow low powered outline to clean up cos the engraving is pretty deep and often you get a build up of melt and dross around the letter.
    Rodney Gold, Toker Bros trophies, Cape Town , South Africa :
    Roland 2300 rotary . 3 x ISEL's ..1m x 500mm CnC .
    Tekcel 1200x2400 router , 900 x 600 60w Shenui laser , 1200 x 800 80w Reci tube Shenhui Laser
    6 x longtai lasers 400x600 60w , 1 x longtai 20w fiber
    2x Gravo manual engravers , Roland 540 large format printer/cutter. CLTT setup
    1600mm hot and cold laminator , 3x Dopag resin dispensers , sandblasting setup, acid etcher

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    Does it make a difference if the air blower is on or off?
    Ian Franks
    Print Image / Paperkutz
    Johannesburg South Africa
    Machines - 50w chinese laser KM C454.

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