How to engrave with Cermark Tape
LMM6018 Laser Marking Tape
Self-adhesive laser marking tape for creating permanent, high-contrast, high-resolution black markings on raw metal and anodized aluminum
Usage instructions :
1-Make sure that the surface to be marked is free and clear of oils, cleaning films and dust
2-Stick the black adhesive side down carefully. Smooth down gently with a finger to remove air bubbles and ensure uniform contact.
3-Adjust laser power and speed setting based on the chart on the back
4-Laser mark through the white paper backing of the tape
5-Peel away and discard excess tape. If tape remnants remain in the fine detail
of your image, these can be removed by wiping with an alcohol-damp cloth
6-If having difficulty removing tape sample from card, use hair dryer to apply heat to release tape
Designing a Test Grid
The goal is to make a series of marks on the metal you want to laser that will vary from low heat to high heat. The grid should look something like the one shown in Figure A. In this grid, P denotes % Power and S denotes % Speed. Speed can also be stated in inches and millimeters per second. Adjust your laser´s setting to match the selected colors, and mark the substrate. Contact your laser manufacturer or reference your laser Owner’s Manual to understand Color Mapping.
After you have marked the object, you should observe a variety of marks that range from barely visible to slight destruction of the substrate as seen in the figure B After completion of the test grid, test the durability of marks using an abrasive kitchen pad. Review results and choose settings that give a durable mark without overpowering or damaging the object. See Figure A.
Note: If your laser system speed is controlled by millimeters per second created the speed steps in increments of 50 mm/sec starting at 50 mm/sec
Evaluating the Test Results
After laser marking the part, wash off the CerMark and observe the variation in the marking quality. They should range from barely visible to a slight destruction of the substrate, as seen in the photo in figure B.
Now, scrub the test marks using the green abrasive side of a kitchen scrub pad. The mark with the highest contrast and durability will be your settings. Be careful not to overpower or damage the part. Remember the mark is only as durable as the surface you are marking on. In this example, settings at 100% power and 30-60% speed are optimal.
If you are using a lower wattage laser, i.e. 25 or 30 watts, and are having trouble marking aluminum & brass substrates, increase´your Dots per Inch (DPI). This will deliver more energy to the surface of the substrate, or, start your test grid with 100% power and 20% speed stepping the speed down as you go.
Using this test grid when marking any metal substrate for the first time will save you time and money. A well designed test grid will quickly pinpoint the optimum laser settings for your laser on a given metal substrate. We recommend running this test before any large jobs and as part of your Preventative Maintenance Program.
Factors to Consider When Marking Metals
It is sometimes difficult to determine the correct power and speed settings for creating high quality laser marks using CerMark marking materials. There are numerous variables that must be considered when establishing the proper settings. The brand of the machine, the edge of the tube, the alignment of the lens, the type of metal substrate, thickness of the substrate, and the substrate’s ability to conduct heat will all have an influence in the process. For example, aluminum conducts heat much better than steel, so it will require more marking power (heat) to do so. A thicker substrate will dissipate heat much faster than a thinner one, again meaning more marking power needed to achieve a good mark.
More variables come into play when you consider the laser used to produce the mark. The laser’s wattage, the type of optics it employs, the quality of the beam, the spot size, and even the software can affect the mark quality achieved via the laser settings. For example, a higher wattage laser will deliver more energy than a lower wattage laser; a smaller spot size will mean more power in a given area.
Keeping all of these variables in mind, it is hard to make specific recommendations for laser settings when marking with CerMark products. We can recommend a starting point for power and speed, but this may not be the best for your particular application. So, what is the magic equation that crunches these variables into a perfect power and speed setting? Well, in short, there is no equation that can calculate the perfect setting. But there is a method which will allow you to quickly and efficiently determine a proper power and speed setting for any type of substrate you choose to mark. The key is to create a power & speed test grid.
RoHS (Reduction of Hazardous Substances) is a piece of legislation created by the EU to reduce the harmful effects of dangerous substances to people and the environment. Here's why it's important to EEs!
The Beginnings of RoHS
RoHS has its roots in the European Union back in 2003. The goal of RoHS (Reduction of Hazardous Substances) is to reduce the environmental effect and health impact of electronics. The legislation's primary purpose is to make electronics manufacturing safer at every stage of an electronic device's life cycle.
Of course, there are individuals and even large-scale distributors who continue to use non-RoHS parts . This is because RoHS compliance can be difficult to fully comprehend and is generally inconvenient and expensive even at the governmental level.
Why should we as individuals and businesses alike care about RoHS? Why should we have to pay more for our projects and consumer goods instead of getting cheaper components because they are not RoHS compliant?
In the past, this was a question of ethics and—let’s face it—most of us have gone for the cheaper, non-RoHS option because we cry when we open our wallets to pay for the more expensive lead-free solder.
Using non-RoHS parts is now a legal matter: you have to use RoHS parts for any product that will sell in the EU. This is because all EU products have to conform to the European standards, denoted by the CE mark on European products, if they are to be sold.
Why was it introduced?
RoHS was introduced to improve the welfare of consumers, distributors, manufacturers, and the environment. Since the early 20th century, chemicals have been introduced into manufacturing for their useful properties such as the luminescence of radium or the low melting point of 60/40 lead-tin alloy. Due to their relatively recent introduction into production use, the harmful effects of such chemicals has not been widely understood (if at all), which has resulted in years of unnecessary exposure of both people and the environment to dangerous materials.
Technique #1. Laser marking direct onto glass substrate
Simply this is marking directly on the glass without coatings or additives; without using any pre-mark surface preparation. From the manufacturing perspective this is the easiest to implement as it is simply using the heat from a laser beam to mark directly on the edge of the finished optical lens.
Method A. Using a CO2 laser to mark.
1. This ablates any coatings such as magnesium fluoride, silicon oxide, zinc sulphide…etc… on the edge of the glass and causes a controlled surface micro-fracturing directly on the glass at the lens edge. The result is often an opaque/white looking permanent mark with character widths typically between 200 micron to 300 micron (0.008 inch to 0.012 inch).
2. Using a CO2 offers the best dollar per watt value for laser processing. In some cases when laser marking of ultra thin optics or for those lenses used in harsh environment applications, this type of laser may create stress fractures around the heat affected zone.
Method B. Using a solid state 532nm (visible green) laser to mark.
1. This also ablates coatings but the 532nm wavelength puts less heat into the glass substrate reducing the micro-fracturing occurring by about 50%. The result is often an opaque looking permanent marked directly into the glass with character widths typically between 100 micron to 150 micron (0.004 inch to 0.006 inch).
2. Using a solid state 532nm is recommended when small spot size and a reduction of applied heat, (thereby, reducing micro-fracturing) is required.
Technique #2. Laser marking by laser bonding additives to the glass substrate
This technique uses a commercially available ceramic or glass fritz bonding agent such as TherMark or Cermark that is applied before laser marking. Typically this technique is used with a lower powered CO2 laser which uses the heat of the laser not to mark directly into the glass substrate but rather to bond the ceramic fritz onto the edge surface of the glass substrate.
Laser bonding offers a solution for creating permanent, high contrast, high resolution marks on a wide variety of surfaces. There is a limited selection of bonding colors such as black, blue, red yellow and white.
Laser bonding offers the least possibility of micro fracturing of the glass substrate but requires the greatest pre-mark preparation and post-mark cleanup.
The decision to mark directly into the glass lens or using a bonding additive depends on the cosmetic look you are wanting (e.g. high contrast colors) to achieve and the end application of the optical lens. For instance lenses used in high vibration areas or in space applications where the lens is exposed to pressure and rapid temperature changes should be considered candidates for laser bonding,
The draw back to laser bonding and using the required bonding additives is the amount of manual preparation and cleanup labor needed on each individual lens.
Foam Cutting Using CO2 Laser
In general terms, the closed-cell, cross-linked foams, like those represented as expanded polystyrene (EPS foam); ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA foam), the various fluted polypropylene products like those sold under the brand name Coroplast and the extruded polystyrene (XPS foams) are also good candidates for cutting by laser. Care must be taken to utilize the correct lenses to reach the best results.
Laser Used in Model Making
A model is a 3-dimensional visual tool designed to answer questions and solve potential problems by making it easy for lay people to understand a complex project. Each completed scale model is considered a functional work of art by the maker, unique in details and recognized by its creativity and the quality of craftsmanship.
No two models alike, however, a number of companies produce ready-made pieces for “structural components” (e.g. girders, beams), siding, and “scenery elements” like figures (people), furniture, vehicles, trees, bushes and other features used in the models.
Who Makes the Models?
Architects do not make models; instead they employ a professional model maker or pattern maker to create models. While some of the larger architectural firms do employee model makers and have their own model making equipment in house, most work is outsourced to contract shops and individuals who specialize in making models and patterns.
A model maker is a craftsperson who creates a 3 dimensional representation of a design or concept. This "model" may be an exact duplicate of the design or a simple mock-up of the general shape or concept. Many prototype models are used for testing physical properties of the design, others for usability and marketing studies.
A pattern maker is generally thought of as one who makes originals of a design to be molded by some method. Patternmakers generally work in wood to make their parts. The original that is made might be called the model, master or pattern, depending on the industry involved.
A fabber (short for “digital fabricator”) use computerized equipment that makes things automatically from digital data. These fabbers use specialized equipment such as rapid prototyping machines that generate three-dimensional, solid objects you can hold in your hands by the process of selective curing, selective sintering or aimed deposition.
There seems to be some interchangeability in the use of the term “model maker” and “pattern maker”, but the work involved is general the same. The use of one term or another has more to do with the traditions of the industry involved.
Model makers or pattern markers are those most likely to use laser machines. However recently we have seen a number of fabbers that are purchasing laser cutters and laser engravers to enhance their finished product. These three skilled groups, the model makers, pattern makers and fabbers are those people most likely to have a working understanding of computer aided design (CAD) and computer aided manufacturing (CAM).
Traditional materials used for architectural model building include vellums, card stock, balsa wood, and basswood as well other woods. Recently it is more common to find materials such as Taskboard, a variety of plastics, wooden and wooden-plastic composites, foams and urethane compounds.
There are four basic processes to create models:
Additive. This process can be as simple as adding clay to create a form, sculpting and smoothing to the final shape. Body fillers, foam and resins are also used in the same manner. Most rapid prototyping technologies are based on the additive process, solidifying thin layered sections or slices one on top of each other
Subtractive. Subtractive has been compared to the act of whittling a solid block of wood or chiseling stone to the desired form.
Formative. Material is neither added nor removed, but opposing pressures are applied to the material to bend, stretch, compress or otherwise modify its shape.
Hybrid. Processes from two or more of the above categories are combined. Sheet-based fabbers, which cut and laminate successive layers of sheet material, are hybrid subtractive/additive devices. A combination CNC punch press and press brake is a hybrid subtractive/formative fabber.
Cutting and engraving lasers
The cutting and engraving lasers that we sell are subtractive, progressively using the laser beam to remove material from a rough shape to get to the level of detail desired in the final model.
The cutting and engraving lasers that we sell are programmed using a computer software package software tool called EngraveLab. EngraveLab is a program that is generally similar to other CAD packages currently in use within the model making industry.
The challenge to the operator using and CAD/CAM tool lies in proper programming, in the creation of the CAD file format. The laser will faithfully reproduce any pattern that it is programmed to complete. This fidelity requires that the CAD file tool path must be cleanly produced, optimized and safely stored on the computer which is used to operate the laser cutting systems
Clean optimized tool paths are the major challenge for architecture models produced using this technology. We offers several solutions to make this optimization of tool paths easier.
When to Use a Laser
There are four criteria that determine whether a project is appropriate for a laser:
1. Low to medium volume
2. The profile of the end product is available as digital data in computerized form
3. The desired shape is complex
4. The ability to make rapid changes is required
In this list, the first two criteria are the most important. A laser cutter is not appropriate for direct high-volume production (although it can be used to make a “copy tool” called a mold or pattern which can then be used to make large quantities of a product or part), and it cannot be used without computerized shape data. The third and fourth criteria are optional but help determine the need for using a laser. The more precise, detailed and complex a shape is the more pronounced is the benefit of using a laser cutter or engraver.
Why Use a Laser
Some of the advantages of lasers over other means of subtractive processing are:
Direct generation of product based on digital data, without the errors arising from a tradesman’s interpretation of the designer’s drawings
Ease of repetition. Any part of the design can be changed as required and the object refabricated without the need to redo the entire design of the object.
Accuracy and repeatability of dimensions on the order of 5 to 15 microns (0.0002 to 0.0006 inch)
The advantages of using lasers in design and production applications can be dramatic. Manufacturers have typically realized time and cost savings of 50 to 80 per cent in product development, and even greater cost savings and schedule reductions are not uncommon.
Along with reduced cost and development time, the practical ability to rapidly create, control changes to designs always leads to improved final product quality. The ability to turn a new idea into a final product quickly can cause a stir of excitement and professional satisfaction in the product team. This in turn feeds back to high productivity and quality of performance from the individuals involved.
CO2 Cutting Polyester, Carbon Fiber and G10 Fiberglass
Polyester is a very good candidate for laser processing with clean cut edges that seal after laser processing.
On the carbon fiber expect some cosmetic charring of the fiber weave caused by the heat of the laser and expect a lot of fumes and strong smell associated with vaporized fiber weave and associated bonding agents. This process will require a fume extraction system and possibly a nitrogen gas assist to minimize charring.
G10 / Fiberglass
On the fiberglass expect some cosmetic charring of the fiber weave caused by the heat of the laser and expect a lot of fumes and strong smell associated with vaporized fiber weave and associated bonding agents. This process will require a fume extraction system and possibly a nitrogen gas assist to minimize charring.
One Size Does Not Fit All
What is the Maximum Thickness?
For laser cutting consider lasers in the same way you consider a shop tool. In most cases one size does not fit all.
Acrylic in various thicknesses.
Acrylic can be both laser cut and laser marked and engraved. To cut acrylic up to 25 mm thick a 200 watt CO2 laser is highly recommended.
ABS sheet (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)
ABS can be both laser marked and laser cut. The most common application is for laser marking however because the ABS is flammable when it is exposed to high sustained temperatures. We have cut up to 1/4" ABS with superior edge quality while thicker ABS can be cut but the edges may be either melted or discolored. Laser cut ABS leaves a slight odor on the cut area that dissipates after a few hours.
Can be both laser marked and laser cut. This is a case where the nose – knows. The laser will indeed cut and mark vinyl however the resulting out gas produced by the heated polymer is caustic and unless your shop is equipped to handle and scrub the ventilated fumes, laser cutting large amounts of vinyl is a hazard to the equipment (makes metal rust) and humans (not good to inhale). Vaporized vinyl has a sharp and pungent odor. In general we cannot recommend these materials for use in any laser system. Vinyl as in Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyvinyl fluoride (PVF) and polyvinyl acetate (PVAc) as the name implies when super heated by the laser to the point of vaporization has the potential to out gas chloride, fluoride and acetate fumes.
Paper, Card stock
Can be both laser marked and laser cut. These are good candidates for laser marking and cutting with the results depending somewhat on the properties of the dyes or inks used to determine the color of the paper. Proper ventilation is required. The material has a tendency to flame up if the laser beam is not moved rapidly through the mark or cut process.
Can be both laser marked and laser cut. The chipboard most are familiar with used in scrapbooking is a type of paperboard generally made from reclaimed paper stock (definition in ASTM D996); the term generally used in the US and is not to be confused with particle board which is glued wood chips. This is a good candidate for both laser marking and cutting depending again on the chemicals and bonding agents used in the creation process of the chipboard. Proper ventilation is required. The material has a tendency to flame up if the laser beam is not moved rapidly through the laser marking or cutting process
Unfortunately this is not a good candidate for lower powered CO2 lasers (under 200 watts). The aluminum is reflective to the CO2 lasers fundamental wavelength and a relatively small amount of laser energy gets absorbed. To overcome this reflectance and absorption problem CO2 lasers in the multi kilowatt range are used with special gas assist techniques to enhance cutting and reduce the slag around the cut area.
This is a poor candidate for cutting with lower powered CO2 lasers (under 200 watts). Most laser companies recommend at a minimum of 400 watts with special cutting heads and gas assist for best cut results. While absorbing the CO2 lasers energy much better than aluminum, stainless steel is also reflective to the CO2 lasers fundamental wavelength and a relatively small amount of laser energy gets absorbed. High powered multi kilowatt CO2 lasers are used with special gas assist techniques to enhance cutting and reduce the slag around the cut area.
Can be both laser marked and laser cut. 6mm is the maximum we would recommend with a laser under 100 watts. What we have found is the problem is more with the plywood glues (bonding agents) used. These adhesive bonds can behave like mirrors requiring variable amount of laser energy to get a good clean cut. Urea glue, adsorbs the laser radiation, and cut more easily. Phenol glue, commonly used in plywood for exterior use is more difficult to laser cut. Alder, Italian Poplar and Baltic Birch seems to work the best as it tends to be uniform in structure than ordinary plywood and remains fairly flat. Also air assist and good exhaust is mandatory to minimize burning. Failure to cut through in all areas is usually due to a change in composition in the material (voids, knots, percentage of glue, etc…).
Foam, various densities.
It really depends on the type of foam. Up to 25 mm on some foam such as polystyrene. Other foams such as polysulfone char and discolor and are not a laser friendly material.
Rubber, epdm, silicone sheet.
Up to 25mm with varying results depending on the type of rubber or silicone. Also air assist and good exhaust is recommended.
Various other graphic and “scrapbooking” type materials.
Most non-metals. Such as marble, granites, tiles, cloths, fabrics, glass can be laser marked or cut.
If all you want to do is scrap booking then you need a small low powered machine let say 30 watt with a small 300mm by 600 mm working area. These machines are cheap, desktop, generally light weight in construction and process materials relatively slowly and are usually considered disposable after 5 years. This type of hobbyist machine will place you in competition with every housewife hobbyist within 200 km.
But you are considering a on going business venture that you can market both locally and on the internet, then a larger more industrial machine is required.
In many ways using a laser to cutting can be visualized as being similar to laser welding.
Laser cutting is a process by which the light energy from a laser beam impinges on the work piece in order to apply intense heat and separate a desired shaped piece from a substrate being cut. Cutting is almost always a vectored process (as opposed to a raster process) defined by cut width, cut depth and direction of the cut.
Successful laser cutting must consider not only the light energy absorption and reflection properties of the material to be cut but is also very dependent on the physical properties of the material such as thickness, width and length, glues or bonding agents, re-melt, splatter, outgasing from the material, potential for flame up and in some cases moisture content. Other considerations such as beam profile, energy density, laminate gas flow and fume exhausts make laser cutting a unique, specialized, technical and artistic skill set; providing a specialized and profitable market niche, that you are looking for to expand your business.
Laser Cutting of Aluminum using a CO2 laser
For the CO2 laser, aluminum, is extremely reflective to the CO2 laser’s wavelength.
You need at least 400 watts of CO2 laser power to even attempt to cut a 1 mm thick piece of aluminum and get a good edge quality at a reasonable processing speed.
To cut 1.5mm aluminum most people recommend at least a 1KW CO2 laser.
Laser Cutting of Aluminum using a YB fiber laser
When using a YB Fiber laser the power to cut a 1.5mm thick piece of aluminum would be approaching 1KW.
Keep In Mind That All Lasers React Differently Depending On The Substrate, the Wattage, The Laser Brand, the tube wear , the lenses adjustment and other factors .
1) 50 Watt System / LMC6044p Spray
Tile > 100 Power/70 Speed - 500/600 Dpi
Glass > 100 Power/55 Speed - 500/600 Dpi
2) 35 Watt System/LMC6044p spray
Tile > 100 Power/50 Speed - 500/600 Dpi
Glass > 100 Power/35 Speed - 500/600 Dpi