Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 20

Thread: Looking to get my first laser engraving machine - Help needed!

  1. #1

    Looking to get my first laser engraving machine - Help needed!

    Recently, I have picked up some interest at possibly picking up a laser engraving machine. I initially looked at some used brands like Epilog, Trotec, etc. However, it seems like Thunder engravers are a fairly popular option on this forum and may fit my needs.

    After doing some research, it seems like what I may want/need is a 100w laser engraver. I am looking at possibly engraving metal/plastic that are used on firearms.

    Just basing on what I have found, I would be trying to engrave aluminum primarily to roughly a depth of .003" and greater.

    Hopefully you guys can guide me with some additional information or things to look for that I could do some further research on.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    If you plan on engraving a whole lot of NFA items, you'll likely look into a fiber/yag laser vs. a CO2.

    If you are wanting to be on the cosmetic side, then stick with a CO2. 100w is overkill for cosmetic engravings.

    You'd be well off to call one of the big 3 and get some costs. I would recommend against any chinese machines...you get what you pay for...if you're stuck on chinese, get a Rabbit.
    Epilog Legend 36EXT ~35W
    30W Fiber Laser
    Ender 3 PRO
    Corel X6
    AutoCAD 2019
    FFL 01

  3. #3
    PS: you pooch a customer's firearm, and they'll not be too happy. Take a lot of time to practice on scrap materials and your own firearms first.
    Epilog Legend 36EXT ~35W
    30W Fiber Laser
    Ender 3 PRO
    Corel X6
    AutoCAD 2019
    FFL 01

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Suwanee, GA
    Posts
    3,686
    Quote Originally Posted by Don Nguyen View Post
    After doing some research... or things to look for that I could do some further research on.
    Start at the first thread here and read up - all of your questions have been answered.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris DeGerolamo View Post
    PS: you pooch a customer's firearm, and they'll not be too happy. Take a lot of time to practice on scrap materials and your own firearms first.
    Definitely. I am probably heavily leaning more towards a Chinese machine, since I am looking at trying to do some basic engravings first and if things pan out, then at that point I may look more into higher end machines.

    Can laser machines achieve a good stippling affect on plastic pieces as well as the traditional way/method of doing it with a soldering gun?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Iowa USA
    Posts
    3,733
    Quote Originally Posted by Don Nguyen View Post
    Definitely. I am probably heavily leaning more towards a Chinese machine, since I am looking at trying to do some basic engravings first and if things pan out, then at that point I may look more into higher end machines.

    Can laser machines achieve a good stippling affect on plastic pieces as well as the traditional way/method of doing it with a soldering gun?
    All these questions and more have been covered here so much a simple search will keep you busy reading for hours. A simple low cost CO2 laser will not engrave metal. You will need to spend maybe $8000 on up for one that will.
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa. , LightObject 40w CO2 Laser and Chiller , WorkBee 1000x750 CNC Router - Mach4 - Windows 10

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill George View Post
    All these questions and more have been covered here so much a simple search will keep you busy reading for hours. A simple low cost CO2 laser will not engrave metal. You will need to spend maybe $8000 on up for one that will.
    I did quite a bit of reading/research before deciding to create this thread. I just felt like it would be somewhat productive for my continued searching/researching, to kind of help answer some questions or guide me further from what I have already read.

    Kind of like my stippling plastics question, when I search stipple or stippling, it only returns back 4 previous threads regarding it.

  8. #8
    I would do a google search on what type of laser will cut or engrave the materials you want to do. CO2 will do some fiber will yag will galovo will , none will do everything.what do you want to cut or engrave? how thick are the materials you want to work with. how big of a bed size do I need.
    If the Help and advice you received here was of any VALUE to you PLEASE! Become a Contributor
    Rabbit RL_XX_6040-60 watt Laser engraving/cutting machine Oh wait its a 3D Printer my bad LOL
    Lasercut 5.3
    CorelDraw X5

    10" Miter Saw with slide
    10" Table Saw
    8" bench mount 5 speed Drill Press
    Dremel, 3x21 Belt Sander


  9. #9
    You can't "engrave" metal with a low power (>400w?) C02 laser. You can only "mark" metal. For actually removing material, which is legally necessary for engraving firearms per ATF rules, you'll need a fiber or yag laser (as was already explained), or good old fashioned cutter tools... And if your intent is to make anything above 'hobby' money, plan on buying 2 machines. Second machine can be another like the first, or totally different, like a laser plus a CNC tool engraver. This comes to mind because of a few recent phone calls- I've had 3 people ask me about laser engraving so far this month, one is a customer, the other two were cold calls, but all 3 of them have broken down fiber lasers and are in a quandary as to how they're going to get their work done! I'd love to help them, but only one- my customer- has work I can replicate with my IS7000. The other 2 guys I had no answers for...

    I will say this much about the four C02 lasers I own: As much use to me as they are, and as much money as they make me, they have a multitude of limitations. This is usually found out the hard way 'after the sale' in the form of materials not behaving as you'd expect. I love my lasers, but I have twice as many CNC tool machines for a reason: I need them. While fiber lasers are the bomb, I'll probably get by until I retire with my trusty carbide cutters...

    .

    .
    Last edited by Kev Williams; 01-27-2016 at 5:53 PM.
    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Suwanee, GA
    Posts
    3,686
    Quote Originally Posted by Kev Williams View Post
    The other 2 guys I had no answers for...
    The correct answer would have been: "Laser Image in Eugene, OR, can do that work for you. He's an amazing guy and shipping would be 1-2 days at the most."

    Problem solved!

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Bert Kemp View Post
    I would do a google search on what type of laser will cut or engrave the materials you want to do. CO2 will do some fiber will yag will galovo will
    FWIW, CO2 is a type of laser, fiber is a type of laser, and yag is a type of laser, and you can compare/contrast these various sources, but a galvo is not a type of laser that can be compared/contrasted with CO2/fiber/yag. Galvo is a type of motion system which can be used with any of the various laser sources, and most often is compared/contrasted with the more common gantry motion system (which also can be used with any of the various laser sources).

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Kev Williams View Post
    You can't "engrave" metal with a low power (>400w?) C02 laser. You can only "mark" metal. For actually removing material, which is legally necessary for engraving firearms per ATF rules, you'll need a fiber or yag laser (as was already explained), or good old fashioned cutter tools... And if your intent is to make anything above 'hobby' money, plan on buying 2 machines. Second machine can be another like the first, or totally different, like a laser plus a CNC tool engraver. This comes to mind because of a few recent phone calls- I've had 3 people ask me about laser engraving so far this month, one is a customer, the other two were cold calls, but all 3 of them have broken down fiber lasers and are in a quandary as to how they're going to get their work done! I'd love to help them, but only one- my customer- has work I can replicate with my IS7000. The other 2 guys I had no answers for...

    I will say this much about the four C02 lasers I own: As much use to me as they are, and as much money as they make me, they have a multitude of limitations. This is usually found out the hard way 'after the sale' in the form of materials not behaving as you'd expect. I love my lasers, but I have twice as many CNC tool machines for a reason: I need them. While fiber lasers are the bomb, I'll probably get by until I retire with my trusty carbide cutters...

    .

    .
    That's what further research seems to have pointed me towards. Seems like for my application, if I want to actually get past simply marking the metal is to look into fiber or yag type laser. I would like to get a CNC machine, but probably in the future, cause of the amount of space that their size requires.

    Would a yag or fiber laser be too strong to do stippling on plastic like in the picture below or is something like that not even really practical/possible to do with lasers?


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    1,038
    Hi Don,

    It sounds like you are looking to duplicate something you saw. I think what most people are trying to say is YOU need to figure out how it's done and the type of machine that does it, then come back to ask machine questions. The machines you are alternating between co2/fiber/jag/cnc are all very different. So it's very hard to provide you a good answer.
    Trotec Speedy 400 120w, Trotec Speedy 300 80w
    Thunderlaser Mars-130 with EFR 130w tube
    Signature Rotary Engravers (2)
    Epson F6070 Large Format Printer, Geo Knight Air Heat Presses (2)

  14. #14
    Different wavelengths of lasers have different uses. The wavelength is a CO2 laser is in the 10,600nm range. That will not penetrate any metal at low wattage (wattages associated with "engraving" type machine. You'd be hard pressed to even make them cut aluminum foil. It's just a wavelength that doesn't penetrate into metal. A Fiber laser is in the 1,064nm range, and it will penetrate metal and lower powers. The two types seem to operate at the opposite end of the spectrum. What a CO2 will do, a Fiber won't, and what a Fiber will do, a CO2 won't. For instance, a Fiber won't engrave wood (for the most part), or even paper. You could put a piece of maple in it and run it at 100% power for an hour and still not have a mark on it. The material just absorbs that wavelength.

    You are asking about engraving firearms .003" deep, and for that, laser wise, it takes a fiber laser. The photo of the mag you are showing is done with a CO2 laser more than likely. The only machines that will do both are machines that have the Fiber and CO2 in the same machine and those start in the $50-60,000 range last time I checked.

    If you wanted to be able to do both, you'd need a Chinese Fiber and a Chinese CO2.
    Lasers : Trotec Speedy 300 75W, Trotec Speedy 300 80W, Galvo Fiber Laser 20W
    Printers : Mimaki UJF-6042 UV Flatbed Printer , HP Designjet L26500 61" Wide Format Latex Printer, Summa S140-T 48" Vinyl Plotter
    Router : ShopBot 48" x 96" CNC Router Rotary Engravers : (2) Xenetech XOT 16 x 25 Rotary Engravers

    Real name Steve but that name was taken on the forum. Used Middle name. Call me Steve or Scott, doesn't matter.

  15. #15
    Welcome to the Creek, Don. To me, it looks like the sample you show is already textured and the engraving simply darkened an image on it. There is no "stippling effect", it's a visual effect from the engraving.

    Dealing with engraving on other people's firearms is jumping into the deep end. You really need to know your laser skills well before you commit to doing a job for someone else.

    Learning when to use Cermark, when to use a Fibermark, how to engrave plastics, and what the difference is should be your focus first. If you know how to design well, you could create a stippled appearance with whatever you use, but that is a whole set of lessons on its own.
    Epilog Mini 18/25w & 35w, Mac and Vaio, Corel x3, typical art toys, airbrush... I'm a Laserhead, my husband is a Neanderthal - go figure

    Red Coin Mah Jong

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •