What Are the Differences Between a Laser Engraver and a Laser Marker?

When it comes to permanently marking an object you have many options to choose from. Laser engraving and laser marking are two of the best possible ways to do this. We have noticed that many people do not fully understand the differences between these two methods of permanently marking objects.

We are going to look at the differences between these two processes so that you can understand which option is the best for the project that you want to complete. We will discuss what exactly the processes are and some of the benefits of using these processes to complete your project. We will also look at some of the laser markers and laser engravers that you can use to complete your project on your own.

What Does a Laser Engraver Do?

Image of a black laser engraving machine getting ready to engrave a plastic materialLaser engraving is basically what it sounds like. You use a laser to engrave an object. The laser engraving machine emits a beam that it then traces through a pattern onto the surface of the object that it is engraving. The laser creates a cavity in the surface that is visible and can be felt. A computer is what controls the direction of the laser, how quickly the laser moves, and how intense the laser is emitted. In some cases, there are blowers that blow along the surface while the laser is engraving in order to remove any debris that could prevent the laser from properly engraving the surface.

Different patterns can be programmed into the computer so that you can customize the pattern that you want the laser to engrave into the object. The computer controls every part of the process to ensure that precise work is done whenever the laser is engraving an object.

What are the Benefits of Laser Engraving?

Laser engraving is a great choice to make highly detailed engravings on objects. There are many benefits to choosing laser engraving over other types of markings.

Controlled Process Programmed into the Computer

As discussed earlier, the engraving has been programmed into the computer. There are a number of benefits to this. The main benefit is that you can create custom, precise engravings into objects. You can create your own design and program the computer to engrave the object with the custom design.

You can also feel confident that the engravings will look exactly the way that you want them to. Unlike hand engraving, you can trust that there will be no mistakes that are made during the process and the work is much more exact. The computer will engrave the exact pattern that is programmed.

Perfect for Materials that Cannot Handle Excessive Heat or Pressure

Traditional engraving is done by using small tool bits and scratching off bits of the material on the surface to create a pattern. The pressure of the tool bits can damage softer materials or brittle materials such as glass. The constant motion of the tool bits creates heat, which can damage other materials such as plastic. Because laser engraving does not use pressure or traditional tool bits to create the etching, many different kinds of materials can be engraved, including:

  • Plastics and acrylic materials
  • Organic materials such as wood, paper, stone, and marble
  • Metals
  • Glass
  • Finished leathers
  • Ceramics

Laser Engraving Can Create Extremely Precise and Sharp Engravings

While traditional engraving can be somewhat precise, tool bits can only be so small. This means that there is a limit to how precise the engravings can be. Lines on the engraving must be at least as thick as the diameter of the tool bit. This is not the case with laser engraving. With a laser engraving machine, the computer can dial down the thickness of the lines so that it is a small as you want it to be. This allows you to create incredibly precise and sharp lines.

What Does a Laser Marker Do?

Image of  a laser marking a piece of metal with the Hai Tech Laser's logoLaser marking is very different than laser engraving. With laser marking, a low powered laser beam is slowly moved across the material and oxidizes the material below the surface. This oxidation discolors the material without disrupting the surface of the material. Laser marking creates high contrast images and patterns while leaving the surface of the object intact. Similarly to laser engraving, a computer controls the laser and can create precise lines and custom designs.

Benefits to Laser Marking

Unlike laser engraving, only particular objects can be laser marked. Laser marking can only be used on plastics, some metals, and some stones. It cannot work on paper, glass, or more delicate objects. This is one of the drawbacks of laser marking, however there are a number of things that make laser marking a better choice than laser engraving or other types of marking.

Permanent Marks Under the Surface

The oxidation process creates permanent marks under the surface of the material that you marked. Also unlike other types of marking, such as paints or even engraving, laser marking cannot be scratched off. You can feel secure that the marks created by laser marking will not be altered by wear and tear of the object.

Does Not Damage Surfaces

Laser etching is designed to damage the surface of the object in order to create the pattern. However, laser marking is able to create a pattern or image without damaging the surface of the object. This allows you to have a clean, smooth surface with the pattern showing under the surface of the object.

A Laser Marker Can Achieve Customizable and Precise Work

Similar to laser engraving, the laser marker is controlled by a computer and the laser can have a microscopic diameter, so the pattern will look exactly the way that you want it to and it will be extremely precise. You can use it to create barcodes, UID codes, QR codes, or logos. You get the precise look of laser engraving without worrying about damaging the surface of the object that you are marking.

Different Types of Laser Markers and Laser Engravers You Can Have

If you are looking to do your own laser marking or laser engraving, you can purchase your own laser marker or laser engraver for your own needs. There are a few different types of laser markers and laser engravers that are useful for many of your projects. Here are a few of the most popular laser engravers or laser markers on the market:

CO2 Laser Engraver and Marker

The CO2 Laser Engraving machine uses a CO2 laser to do all of the engraving and marking. It is known for its compact design and is best for marking or engraving plastics and other non-metal objects.

HTL QT Desktop Laser System

The HTL QT Desktop Laser System is a laser marking system that is compact yet effective. It is useful for marking all types of metals including stainless steel, anodized and bare aluminum, and coated metals. The HTL QT Desktop Laser System can also be used to mark different types of plastics.

For other laser engraving or laser marking projects that cannot be completed with these systems, we recommend that you hire a laser engraving and laser marking company to complete your project for you. A professional laser engraving company can ensure that the project is completed exactly the way that you want it to without needing to worry about any mistakes. They use industrial laser engravers and laser markers that can complete any type of project that would need to be done.