It does not matter if a person is a novice user or an accomplished engineer, learning the right way to use design equipment and avoid mistakes is something that takes experience and time.
Every once in a while, problems may come up that leave designers wondering what it is they did wrong or how they may be able to do it better next time. When it comes to laser engraving, this is no different.
Mistake: Burning the Material when Engraving Fabric
To avoid burning fabric when using a laser engraver, a person needs to know what fabrics can withstand the process and what temperatures can be used. Stronger fabrics, such as leather, canvas, and denim will be able to withstand higher power settings while being engraved. However, with more delicate fabrics, the setting must be set at higher speeds – close to 100% – and the power should be only five percent to 10%. It is a good idea to test the settings on spare material. If the fabric is able to withstand it, increase the power until the desired results are achieved.
When someone is trying to do direct-to-garment engraving, it is a good idea to reduce the total DIPs (dots-per-inch). The higher that the DPI is, the more material that is removed. Engraving something at a lower DPI will help ensure that the laser only vaporizes the very top layer and does not burn through the fabric entirely. Most of the fabric engravings that are done are fine at a setting of between 150 and 300 DPI.
Mistake: Acrylic Doesn’t Create a Frosty While Engraving
Usually, this is because the wrong type of acrylic has been used. There are two different types of acrylics that are used with laser engraving – both of these can be used for various applications.
A cast acrylic object or sheet is made out of a liquid acrylic, which is poured into a mold that can be set to form different sizes and shapes. With this acrylic, it is possible to engrave because it will turn a frosty white color when it is engraved. This means that it is suitable for different plaques and awards. While it can be cut using a laser, it will not provide the flame-polished edges a person may want.
The other acrylic that is commonly used is extruded acrylic. This is formed into sheets using a machine. Usually, extruded acrylic is not as expensive as cast acrylic. This is because it is formed using a much higher volume manufacturing process. Keep in mind though that it will react differently when the laser engraving machine is used. This acrylic will cut smoothly and cleanly and it creates a flame-polished edge. However, if it is engraved, it will not create that frosted look. Instead, it will create a clear engraving. Be sure to use cast acrylic for the frosted white finish.