Laser Engraving, Up Close

You know you aren’t supposed to watch your laser while it is cutting or engraving. But [Alex] hosted Wired in his studio and showed them how lasers engrave metal with a fiber laser. You can see the video below.

If you haven’t used a fiber laser, you might be surprised that while a 60 W model can burn metal, it does absolutely nothing to [Alex’s] hand. We wouldn’t try that, by the way, with the common diode lasers you see in most hacker’s labs these days. The video isn’t terribly technical, but it is interesting to see different metals succumb to the powerful laser. There are a few tips about marking different metals in different ways and how to deal with thermal expansion and other effects.

Fiber lasers aren’t as common as diode engravers in private shops, but we assume it is just a matter of time before they get cheaper. Not to mention their widespread use commercially means surplus units might become available, too.

If you are interested in lasers, [Alex’s] YouTube channel has quite a few interesting videos to check out. If you need more power, how’s 200 kW? Then again, even 20 W will get you something useful.

11 thoughts on “Laser Engraving, Up Close

    1. Solved problem for cheap though. Online services with quick turnaround and really good results.

      Even if economic, I’d worry about vaporized copper/copper oxide on everything. Especially the expensive laser.

      1. Yeah, as I mentioned, I wouldn’t try it with my laser nor with a fiber laser. My fear would be it isn’t burning his skin because that wavelength is going even deeper and burning whatever is absorbing it under the skin. Maybe — maybe — the skin is attenuating it some, too, but I’d rather not find out.

        1. I can tell you for a fact that fibers, (especially those of the 1064nm variety) do cause sub dermal damage. Sure you don’t feel it, but the damage is there and it can be severe.

          You are talking about a laser pulse with enough impulse energy to ablate metals.

          Interestingly enough, the ability of 1064nm to easily pass through the dermis is also what is leveraged to help with tattoo removal. You can adjust the pulse and focal length to break up the ink.

    2. So I’ve done quite a bit of testing with my 30W Fiber laser on PCBs. You absolutely can however I have found that when trying to ablate copper that a lot of time it gets pushed down into the FR4 and remains conductive/shorts. I plan to do some more testing soon on plain copper boards. I have a relatively narrow frequency range with my laser (30-60khz) so a higher range may get some different results. We used it to create some bodge pads by just removing the Solder mask fine however.

  1. So with lasers. Your lens has a focal distance usually 0 to 3 mm your in focus of your focal height 3 to 6 mm you are annealing and after that your beam is not focus but it can still damage your skin almost like branding a cow with a hot poker. I know this as I am a field service engineer and work on a wide variety of lasers EV, YAG(Fiber), CO2, UV, and PICO. So I would not recommend anyone putting there hand under a laser. DO NOT PUT HAND UNDER LASER. If you had a LSO you would be reprimanded.

  2. Crazy props to Alex. I have been watching him help the community since we both got our first fiber lasers. I suggest if you are a laser fanatic like me to join his laser master academy. It’s cheap, supportive and has infinite information for any question or help you may need. I shortly connected through the discord but changed phones and they wouldn’t let me get past 2FA even though I had questions rolling in through email alerts. Good job Alex, you are really helping people that want to learn some of the things we (me more by trial and error) happen to know. Way to take the proper steps or you might have the knowledge but remain broke like me hoping to get my abilities recognized one day. Good feature and good luck.
    -Texas Bred

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.