Resolution for lasers

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Russ Hewitt

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Nov 27, 2009
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94
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Pasadena, Maryland., USA
Is there a laser available that is capable of marking very small objects like pen clips and end caps. I would like to be able to mark my Bespoke pens with my initials or a simple logo. I would rather not spend a fortune if at all possible. I will be doing small items only.
 
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target64

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Jul 5, 2014
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Indianapolis
Short answer is depends. Depends on what the material is you want to mark. Depends on how much you want to spend. I have two different lasers the will work on acrylics, aluminum, and wood among other mediums. Expect to spend a minimum of $500 to get into lasers. . Look at you tube for Ortur lasers and X tool d1. Enjoy, this is a deep rabbit hole.
 

MRDucks2

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Jul 17, 2017
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Washington, IN
Also keep in mind what your needs are. Power tends to lend itself to cutting, precision can be achieved with less power and understanding of the processes.
 

Aurelius

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Feb 26, 2021
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67
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
Short answer: yes.
Longer answer: it depends on how much you want to spend. I tried an xTool D1 and couldn't get it working at all. I also know Shawn Newton originally was originally very excited about his D1 for engraving on barrels and then decided that having to recalibrate for every different material was too much trouble and was selling his. If you also want to do clips and finials, you are looking at a fiber laser and a factor of 4-5x on the price. I'm currently in the research phase on fiber lasers so, if you'd like to know more, message me and I'd be happy to share what I've found so far.
Also keep in mind what your needs are. Power tends to lend itself to cutting, precision can be achieved with less power and understanding of the processes.
Keep in mind power is measured as "deposited" power not output power since materials have different absorption at different wavelengths. for example, a diode laser will not cut glass regardless of power because the light passes right through. Similarly a CO2 laser is great for etching painted tumblers because it engraves the coating but is reflected by the steel underneath.

Also, remember, you can generally make small things with a big tool but it's generally a lot hard if not impossible to make big things with a small tool. That is to say that a higher power machine can be dialed down to do finer detail work and will probably give better control that a smaller unit that is maxed at at the same output power.
 

MRDucks2

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Jul 17, 2017
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Washington, IN
Wonderful conversation, Mark.
“Keep in mind power is measured as "deposited" power not output power since materials have different absorption at different wavelengths.”

While this is true, it is also misleading to many getting into lasers. But, some laser sellers are also misleading.

When buying/shopping for lasers, people are looking at labeled power, which is represented as output by most sellers since they have no standard for “deposited” power.

That is why I also referenced “process”. Even with a small laser, such as I have, you can utilize processes involving coating material so that the realized energy at the surface provides and effect that, while not true etching of the surface, allows the surface to be permanent marked with high levels of detail.

Another key in the laser system as a whole is being able to actually vary the output power of the laser beyond on-off commands to provide varying shades/depth of burn on some materials.

I think the key is understanding what you want to achieve with a laser then understanding what is required to make it happen, within you budget, and what the trade-offs are. For example time, precision, and quality. A smaller (ie. less costly) laser may be able to achieve what you want but may require more passes or a slower burn in some materials. More passes require higher precision (repeatability) slower burn means you must have adequate removal of fumes/smoke.

While the presumed easy answer is “more” laser the end user should ensure they are not trading off quality for speed (if both are important). Deciding what materials you plan to use and what you need to get there, or if you can get there within your budget, are key.

I have dual 7 watt lasers, one with a precision lens, than I can achieve most of my needs with for about about $1200 in a 40”x40” platform. (I did get some great deals). I also know and have a great relationship with the guy an hour away who has a $16,000 laser he purchased for his custom gun smithing work. Just in case I have a project that needs it! 😊
 
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