The range of laser equipment makes it possible to engrave metal even at home. For this reason, the demand for engraving machines has grown considerably. But to make the right choice, it is useful to understand the peculiarities of laser engraving.

This article will help you in choosing a laser marker. From the text you will learn the features of metal engraving and get acquainted with the equipment designed for it. 

What metal can be engraved with marking machine?

deep engraving metal

Modern equipment allows you to work with any kind of metal common in production. Metal for engraving can be divided into three groups: black, non-ferrous and noble metal. The most suitable materials for laser engraving include:

  • steel;
  • brass;
  • aluminum;
  • bronze;
  • silver;
  • gold;
  • platinum.

Depending on the reflectivity of the metal, the equipment is selected with a certain type and power of the emitter. The higher the reflectivity the more powerful and reliable the emitter should be.

Metal engraving

Each material, including metal, has its own characteristics and methods of engraving. We offer a closer look at each of them.

Manual method

hand engraving

The method is also called artistic engraving. The process involves applying an image or inscription to the material with a steel tool (scoop). The result is unique handmade products.

The method is labor consuming and requires special skills of artistic carving. Moreover, today it is quite difficult to meet a master of an engraving tool. Artistic engraving is used in the manufacturing of unique expensive jewelry.

The manual engraving can be performed with the following tools: scoop, dremel tool, and boring machine.

Sandblast engraving

Sandblasting is performed by spraying sand under strong air pressure. As a result, the surface of the material is matted. The image acquires a grainy texture, repeating the particles of sand.

The advantages of this method of engraving are the speed of the work, the clarity of the processing edges and a unique graining effect. Sometimes the sand is replaced by other materials such as small glass beads.

Mechanical engraving

metal milling machine

Mechanical engraving is carried out with special equipment:

  • pantograph;
  • CNC machine.

The pantograph is often used in jewelry workshops for engraving precious metals.

 CNC machines are more versatile, but are also quite expensive.

In both cases, the material is engraved with a sharpened cutter.

Mechanical machining allows you to achieve three-dimensional images of high quality. But the productivity is much lower than with laser engraving or sandblasting.

Laser sublimation

The method is used to color the images resulting from engraving. Special equipment is required to apply color.

Using a printer, an image is printed on the product, and then the material is subjected to heat treatment. Under the influence of high temperature, the paint is baked, and the color image remains on the product.

The laser sublimation method is actively used in production of:

  • watches;
  • souvenirs;
  • signs;
  • some kinds of jewelry .

The advantage of the method lies in the simplicity of technology and inexpensive equipment. 

Laser marking and engraving

laser engraving knife

These two methods have the same tool for metal processing – a focused laser beam. But in the case of laser engraving, the image is imprinted in depth and the material is vaporized. In marking, the image is placed superficially and the material is melted.

Metal laser processing is currently the most common method. This is due to the affordable cost of equipment and ease of operation. However, the image applied to the product has traces of the impact of the beam on the material.

Laser equipment for metal engraving is also divided into several types, which we will describe further in the article.

Advantages of laser engraving with marking machine

  • High image quality;
  • Durability of engraving, unlike other methods of processing;
  • Affordable cost of equipment;
  • High speed of material processing;
  • No risk of material damage during operation;
  • Easy operation;
  • Equipment versatility.

Types of laser engraving

The most common methods of laser engraving include:

  • Contour engraving. The image is obtained by drawing outlines. The method is used to transfer text, numbers and fine lines to the material.
  • Raster engraving. In this case, the image is engraved with a set of dots (pixels). As a result, the pixels are reassembled into a highly detailed image.

Contour engraving is less energy consuming and has a higher material processing speed. But raster engraving allows you to achieve maximum detail and realism of the images applied to the material.

Color engraving

color engraving metal

Customers often ask us: how to make a color engraving and what equipment is needed for this? 

It should be noted immediately that color engraving is performed only on materials prone to oxidation. For example:

  • zirconium;
  • stainless steel;
  • silver;
  • titanium, etc.

The method is based on the principle of laser beam refraction. The material is exposed to alternating temperatures. The process produces oxide layers with different shades. The laser beam is used as a catalyst for the chemical reaction. Color is achieved through oxidation, during which light projects color into the oxide film.

The color saturation and hues depend on:

  • texture and thickness of the material;
  • duration of exposure to the laser beam;
  • degree of oxidation of the material;
  • emitter power.

Modern color engraving is done with fiber laser equipment. Such machines provide stability in the choice of colors and shades of the image that is applied to the material. The undoubted leader among manufacturers of fiber optic emitters is IPG. Emitters of this brand have a wide frequency range, which allows to obtain even such complex colors as red, green and black, and maintain stability of pulses at high speed, guaranteeing a high-quality color image.

Maximum engraving quality is achieved by controlling the distance between lines and optimum laser beam power.

Laser engraving equipment

Two types of equipment are used for laser engraving on metals:

  • fiber optic markers;
  • CO2 markers.

Let us take a closer look at the fiber machine type.

Fiber optic laser markers

lens of laser marking machine

Fiber laser markers are universal tools for engraving and marking metal.

The main advantages of the equipment are:

  • high performance;
  • easy operation;
  • minimal resource costs;
  • affordable price;
  • no consumables;
  • compactness and mobility;
  • wide range of processing materials.

The fiber laser machine allows the production of both piece and large-scale batches.

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What are fiber markers used for?

phone case engraving

Our customers usually use fiber markers to produce:

  • souvenirs;
  • jewelry;
  • signs;
  • shields;
  • business cards and much more.

Fiber laser markers are versatile and can be used for engraving and marking a variety of products.

Scopes of application of fiber marking

Laser markers are used in almost every field of production. For example, laser markers are in high demand in the following areas:

  • jewelry production;
  • souvenirs production;
  • advertising;
  • medicine;
  • shipbuilding, aircraft and automotive industry;
  • tool production, electrical engineering, and many other areas.

How to choose the most optimal laser engraving machine?

laser marking machine head

The range of laser equipment on the market is varied. It is difficult for novice production owners to decide which marker to buy without spending too much money. Knowing the basic specifications of the equipment will help in making the right choice.

Emitter and its power

The main thing to pay attention to is the emitter. It is the main tool for engraving. Its power determines the speed and quality of the metalwork performed.

Wattsan uses three brands of laser emitters:

  • Max Photonics;
  • IPG;
  • Raycus.

Max Photonics is suitable for engraving simple images. Its affordable price is very attractive for novice manufacturers.

IPG emitters offer more possibilities for metal processing. For example, you can use the equipment to apply color images. High speed and built-in reflection protection allow for engraving on noble metals.

Raycus emitters boast high power. This allows you to apply the fill evenly and engrave complex images with high detail.

Working area

wattsan laser markers

When choosing a working area, it is recommended to take into account the dimensions of the material to be processed. The most popular sizes of the working area are from 75 by 75 to 300 by 300 mm.

Machines may also differ in the configuration of the working table. They can be:

  • lifting (Wattsan FL LT), ideal for processing large-sized materials;
  • static (Wattsan FL ST).

The Wattsan range of laser machines also includes portable models, such as the Wattsan FL HH marker.

Setting up and maintaining equipment

When choosing a laser machine, it is very important to pay attention to the availability of additional services from the supplier. Wattsan offers its customers a complete commissioning of equipment. It includes:

  • machine housing;
  • setting up all control systems;
  • verification of hardware and software components;
  • connection of safety systems.

In addition, our technical specialists provide personnel training.

Another pleasant bonus is a full service of the equipment, including diagnostics, repair and warranty service.

How much do fiber laser machines cost?

laser engraving machine for metal

The cost of equipment depends on the configuration. Standard versions of models have a cost of $2500-8000. Such a big difference is due to the different power of the emitter and the capabilities of the functional.

Machine optimization is possible, but it costs extra money. For example, when choosing a certain model of the machine, you can increase the initial power of the emitter, while paying a certain amount.

Wattsan top machines for metal engraving

If you have opted for the machines of our production, we recommend that you get acquainted with the best models of equipment for laser engraving.

Wattsan FL TT

Laser power 30 W
Laser emitter JPT TT (MOPA)
Work area 200 x 200 mm
Marker type Table type

A laser marker that allows you to engrave items of any size. This model is equipped with the ability to remove the support stand and place the scanner on the ceiling.

The built-in Max Photonics emitter, with a power range of 20 to 50 watts, will allow you to engrave on metal with high speed and noticeable quality.

Wattsan FL LT

A practical and compact model with Max Photonics emitter and lifting working area. Such a machine will allow you to easily process items of different sizes. And the built-in foot pedal helps you to process large batches of products at high speed. 

Wattsan FL ST

Laser power 20-50 W
Laser emitter IPG, MAX, RAYCUS
Work area 100 x 100 mm
Marker type Stand

A laser marker equipped with a table acting as a full-fledged operator’s workplace. The table allows you to place a computer and perform processing with maximum comfort. Wattsan FL Static Table means high performance at an affordable price.

Wattsan FL HH

Laser power 20-50 W
Laser emitter IPG, MAX, RAYCUS
Work area 100 x 100 mm
Marker type Handheld

A handheld laser marker with a removable marking unit equipped with a focus stop. This solution provides maximum comfort when working in both horizontal and vertical planes. Controller is compatible with the software EzCad. The program has a built-in generator for barcoding and many other useful features.

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To make the choice of equipment less difficult, we have collected answers to the most common questions about metal engraving.

Can CO2 laser engrave on metals?

CO2 equipment is not normally used for metal engraving and marking. In rare cases, the material is pretreated with a special spray or paste.

For this reason, fiber markers are recommended for metal processing.

Can engraving be done at home?

It is certainly possible. The manual and mechanical method of engraving is used for this purpose. However, if you want to choose the laser method, you should consider the high cost of the equipment and the need for voltage stabilization. Therefore, laser equipment is usually chosen for production, rather than a hobby craft.

It is worth noting that in the list of our clients there are craftsmen who use laser equipment at home. Especially for such needs, our assortment has compact models of machines.

Engraving examples

Engraving on different objects has its own peculiarities. Here are a few examples of how different items can be engraved.

Engraving of wedding rings and other jewelry

Most often words or inscriptions are engraved on wedding bands and other rings. For the words to be easily read, the size of the product is important. For example, it is much more difficult to apply inscriptions on a narrow ring.

Engraving can be applied to any metal, but it is better to use a soft one (silver, gold, etc.). On it, the letters will be more noticeable.

The inside, outside and sides of the ring are used for the engraving.

Engraving of industrial products

laser engraving metal

In production, engraving is used in the manufacture of various items:

  • shields;
  • signs;
  • serial numbers, barcodes, etc.

Gold-tone shields and nameplates are usually made of brass and aluminum. In both cases, laser engraving is used.

In the industrial production of shields, it is necessary to comply with the requirements established by law. The shield marking contains detailed information about the product and the manufacturer, serial number, technical specifications and a description of safety during operation.

In order to apply clear and finest inscriptions on small-sized shields, a laser marking method is used. High processing speed allows it to produce shields in unlimited quantities.

Engraving on metal thermo mugs

engraving on thermo mag

Metal thermo mugs have become popular not only for camping, but also in restaurants and bars.

It is quite easy to engrave them with a fiber optic marker. Machines with a rotary device are used for this purpose.

Engraving on souvenir knives

Inscriptions, patterns or any images are engraved on the blade of the knife.

Dark and light engravings can be applied to the steel knife. For example, a black engraving can be applied to the polished surface of the product, while a light engraving will look good on dark and painted blades.

When engraving, the texture of the blade must be taken into account. The laser is used to make both surface and relief markings. Such an image does not change color and is resistant to erosion.

We hope that the article was useful to you, and now you can easily choose the right equipment for metal engraving. If you still have questions or doubts about the choice of machine, we will be happy to help you.

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