The Key To Finding The Best Engraver

best engraver

Where do you find the best engraver?

Engraving is a huge industry, and, being the proud owners of the best engraver ourselves, we thought we’d share our knowledge on the matter. Engravers are useful for etching images and text onto a range of materials, including leather, wood, and metal. In this guide, we’ll cover the aspects and features that make up the best engraver. Enjoy!

What is laser engraving?

The majority of engravers use a laser to engrave patterns, words, and/or images onto a large variety of products and goods. Engravers are also called cutters, as they can also be used to cut all the way through cardboard, paper, and other materials. The engravers use a high-powered laser beam to accomplish this, and the beam is directed by a Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machine. The patterns being engraved are inturn generated by a Computer Assisted Design (CAD) vector file.

How does an engraver work?

There are a couple of different types of engravers available. The most common type is the CO2 engraver. Other types include neodymium (Nd) and neodymium yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd-YAG) engravers. The engraver works by emitting a laser beam through a tube. This laser beam is then reflected off of surrounding mirrors which point the beam through a lens.

The concentrated beam is then focused onto the surface of the material being worked on. The laser beam will etch the image onto the material according to the CAD vector file being used. Because of the precision and the accuracy of the laser, the engraved product rarely needs any finish after the laser has done its work.

A laser is much more effective than using a blade, as the amount of material removed by the laser is much smaller than with a blade. The material being removed by the laser is commonly referred to as ‘kerf’. How much kerf if removed from the material being engraved largely depends on how thick the material is.

The kerf being removed is mostly negligible, but some materials do have a lower tolerance than others. It is, therefore, a good idea to check the material’s tolerance before starting to work on it. Leaving a bit of space (approximately 2mm) between cuts is always recommended.

What can an engraver do?

The three most common techniques for using an engraver are the vector, raster, and CO2 engraving. We’ve outlined what each individual technique does here below.

Vector engraving

The most common of the three techniques is vector engraving. Vector engraving can accomplish two different kinds of laser cutting. The first is a full cut through the entire material according to the CAD vector file. The second one is called ‘kiss cuts’, which only etches through the surface of the material according to the CAD vector file. This creates what resembles a drawing of the CAD vector image. Both kinds of vector engraving can be combined to create more intricate results.

Raster engraving

Raster engraving works a bit differently than vector engraving. This technique involves the engraver quickly moving the laser beam from side to side whilst turning it off and on rapidly. This creates small lines that produce near the same result as vector engraving. However, there will be a small distance between the lines (approximately 0.001mm) which can barely be seen with the naked eye. The best analogy for how raster engraving works is to compare it to an inkjet printer.

CO2

CO2 laser engravers come in many shapes and sizes. Some can only cut through thin materials like paper and fabric, whilst others can cut through plywood and acrylic. They are unable to cut through metal, however thin, and the same goes for other harder materials like glass and stone. This doesn’t mean it cannot work with these materials, however.

It can easily engrave patterns on the surface of them, just not cut through them entirely. Beware of cutting through materials that have chlorine in them. This includes vinyl and PVC, as well as faux leather. The chlorine will evaporate and create poisonous gas, which not only can ruin your lungs but also the equipment.

How do you create designs for engraving?

As mentioned earlier, engravers use CAD vector files to determine the pattern they should cut or engrave into the surface of the material. CAD vector files can be created with a range of software programs, including Abode Illustrator, Inkscape, and AutoCAD. When sending in designs to external engravers, it is important to make a note of whether you require one or more techniques to be used when carrying out the engraving of your design.

Most engravers will be skilled with these software programs themselves, so you will always be able to ask them for help if there is something you’re unsure about. It is just important to also note the exact measurements, as they can otherwise make costly mistakes and produce subpar results.

What are the possibilities with engraving?

In a word: endless. This is of course not entirely true, but very close to the truth. Laser engraving can etch patterns on pretty much any material you can imagine or want it to be cut on. Product design companies can request an engraver adding designs to their prototypes. Architects can benefit from laser engraving when making prototypes for their building models.

Jewelers can have words and names etched into rings and other jewelry. Artists can have their initials etched onto their sculptures and pottery. Fashion designers can have their brands engraved onto their designs. And you, as a business owner, can have your company name and logo engraved onto any or all of your products.

The beauty of it is that you can have it all done in the course of a day. You’re also not limited to having to order bulk. You can have engraved one item or many, without worrying that the price of one item will be super expensive.

How do you choose the best engraver?

If you’re shopping around for an engraver for your own company, then you should consider the purpose of it. What will you be engraving? Wood, fabric, plastic, acrylic, metal, stone, cardboard, or laminate? The kind of material you want to work with will help determine the best engraver for the job.

How much power does your engraver need?

Engravers use different wattages. You could be tempted to think this influences how powerful they are, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Some makes will use less wattage than others and produce the same results. Check the technical specifications and watch the machine in action to see which one is the best engraver.

What is the bed size on an engraver?

The bed of an engraver is simply the surface you place the material on to be engraved. The most common sizes are A3 to A1, just like the paper sheet sizes. If you need a big engravement job done, you’ll naturally need a big bed. A big bed can also be used to complete multiple smaller jobs at the same time.

What is extraction?

Laser extraction is the process of extracting the vapors from the kerf being removed from the material you’re working on. The vapors can produce a very bad odor and sometimes even be poisonous. Therefore, extraction is recommended.

How much space does an engraver take up?

As mentioned, you can get engravers with small beds the size of a sheet of paper. This means you can easily have it on your desktop next to your printer or computer. You are, of course, also able to buy large-scale industrial engravers that take up considerably more space.

What materials can you engrave?

The options are many. As mentioned above, you are able to engrave patterns in laminate, wood, fabric, paper, cardboard, polypropylene, plastic, stone, metal, and much more. Just ensure you do not engrave materials that contain chlorine, as this will produce a noxious gas that can be poisonous and damaging to you and your engraver. Each engraver will come with a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) that tells you what you can and cannot engrave.

What else do you need to engrave?

Although many engravers are pretty straightforward to use, it would be wise to read the instruction manuals and watch some online tutorials. We’ve provided one here below for you to get started. You will of course also need a CAD designing program and a computer.

Is it difficult to engrave?

No. The engraver itself is very easy to use once you’ve first got the hang of it,

What does an engraver cost?

Since engravers come in sizes ranging from desktop engravers to standing units suited for industrial use, the price tags are accordingly varied. If you’re looking for a larger machine that is outside your budget, there may be leasing options available. We’ve provided a list here below, so you can see some examples of popular engravers.

Best engraver #1: WELQUIC

Get it in two days with Amazon Prime right now.

WELQUIC 405nm 1500mw Mini USB Laser Engraving Machine with Wireless Bluetooth 4.0, Built-in 6000mAh Polymer Li-ion Battery for iOS/Android/Windows DIY Projects, Black

Best engraver #2: Meterk

Get it in two days with Amazon Prime right now.

Meterk Laser Engraver Printer 1500mW Portable Household Art Craft DIY Mini Engraving Printing USB Wireless Bluetooth4.0 for iOS/Android/ Windows PC with Alloy Shell Frame

Best engraver #3: Qiilu

Get it in two days with Amazon Prime right now.

Qiilu 1500mw Laser Engraver Printer Laser Engraving Machine DIY USB CNC Router Cutting Carver Off-line Operation with Goggles for Art Craft Science for Win 7, XP, Win 8, Win 10, iOS 9.0, Android 4.0

Best engraver #4: SixDu

Get it in two days with Amazon Prime right HERE.

SixDu 3000mw / 1500mw Laser Engraver Printer, Carver Size 80 x 80mm, Portable Household, High Speed Laser Engraving Cutter, USB Wireless Machine with Goggles, for Art Craft Science (3000mw)

Best engraver #5: Neje

Get it in two days with Amazon Prime – Neje.

Mini 1500mw USB Laser Engraver Automatic Carver DIY Print Engraving Carving Machine with Protective Panel

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Brandon Stapper
Brandon Stapper is an entrepreneur and investor. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Nonstop Signs, an industry leading graphic design, print, and sign business with multiple locations throughout the United States. At 20 years old, with no formal education and only a few hundred dollars, Stapper turned a $400 custom decal machine in a garage into an international printing powerhouse focused on helping businesses improve their marketing and branding with everything from retail signage to packaging, to trade show displays.
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