Differences Between Laser Cutting and Engraving

A lot of times laser cutting and engraving are often used interchangeably as they tend to perform similar functions but there are some differences between these two terms. This is because each one of them has their own unique attributes and application which makes them ideal for different projects. It is therefore important to know the differences between these two terms so as to make an informed decision when choosing between the two for your projects.

What is Laser Cutting?

This term is often confused with laser engraving but essentially laser cutting involves the cutting of shapes through materials which can either be plastic or metal. A lot of laser cutting is done with the aid of CO2 lasers; this is because they tend to interact with the material and not the pigment within the materials. Laser cutting can be applied in making signages, leather sectioning, paper cutting, etc. Lasers can cut precise shapes into metal with the use of laser beam machining in ways the traditional machining processes cannot that’s the beauty of lasers.

How Laser Cutting Works

Lasers can cut metal with high temperatures and make complex shapes but how do these lasers work exactly? Well, it starts with the use of two mirrors; a gain medium and a light source. Light enters the gain medium and excites the atoms inside to a higher state after a while the atom would drop back down to the original state to emit a photon. That first photon then creates a chain reaction which makes the other excited atoms emit their photons. Soon we have a bunch of photons bouncing back and forth between these two layers. Since the mirrors do not have a reflectivity of 100% some of the photons will pass through and create a laser; now that is a general concept how lasers work.

Laser Engraving

Engraving is a form of marking which involves the removal of material so as to create depth; this depth can be easily felt by simply running your finger over the surface. Laser engraving is permanent but oxidization can occur when the surface material is removed, this can sometimes lead to undesired result or create the exact result you had in mind. Laser engraving increases the number of fine detail that can be achieved when engraving which makes it perfect for detailed logos, labeling, and inscriptions. Read more.

Difference Between Laser Cutting and Engraving

The major difference between laser cutting and laser engraving is the focal length of the lens on these machines. Laser engraving machines have a shorter lens focal length which gives them a finer spot size. On the other hand, the focal length of the lens on the laser cutting machines are longer which makes them more focus height variations tolerant.

Having a good understanding of these two techniques while looking for a laser machine or a company you want to work with will go a long way to strengthen your interaction with the vendor which would help him meet your needs and expectations.