What is a Diode laser?
A diode laser is a type of laser that uses a semiconductor as a lasing medium. Diode lasers are widely used for a variety of applications, including laser printing, laser pointers, and laser engravers.
In a laser engraver, a diode laser is used to etch or mark materials by directing the laser beam at the surface of the material. The laser beam is focused onto a small spot on the surface of the material, and the energy from the laser causes the material to vaporize or change in color. The laser is moved across the surface of the material by a computer-controlled gantry with the laser module mounted on top. Most engravers need a computer with software like Lightburn or LaserGRBL to control the machine but there are some models that use their own proprietary software.
The power of the laser, which is the duration of the laser pulse, and the speed at which the laser is moved across the surface of the material can all be controlled to achieve the desired level of engraving or marking. Diode lasers are popular for laser engraving because they are relatively low-power, compact, and efficient, and they can be easily modulated to produce different levels of laser intensity.
The X-Y gantry
A X-Y gantry is a type of mechanical system that consists of two perpendicular axes, labeled X and Y, that move along a set of tracks or guides. The gantry is typically used for positioning and movement of a laser head or diode laser in a two-dimensional plane. It is also referred to as a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine. The X and Y axes are typically driven by motors and controlled by a computer or controller, allowing for precise and repeatable movement of the gantry.
Laser modules can be bought in different energy classes. The most used powers are 1 Watt, 5 Watt and 10 Watt modules, but there are also stronger models that have an optical output power of 20 or even 40 Watt.
The higher the wattage of the optical beam that is generated by the laser, the more cutting power it has, and this is translated into its power to vaporize the material it is aimed at. More power also means faster laser engraving, however, most detailed engravings are made with lasers that have a lower maximum output power, as they can be controlled more precisely.
Don’t think that lasers with less power are less dangerous for the user? It’s a commonly made mistake that low-power lasers are safer to use, but you only need to stare into a 0.005 Watt laser for a millisecond to have permanent damage to your retina. Therefore, never think that lasers with less power are less harmful.
A honeycomb bed is often used in laser engravers to help support and position the material being engraved. The honeycomb pattern creates a series of cells that can hold the material in place while the laser engraver works. This can be especially useful for thin or fragile materials, as it helps to prevent them from warping or shifting during the engraving process. Honeycomb beds can also help to reduce the overall weight of the laser engraver, which can be important for machines that are required to be portable or easily moved.
Air assist systems
Air assist is a feature that is often used in laser engraving machines to help improve the quality of the engraving and extend the life of the laser. It works by blowing a stream of compressed air across the surface of the material being engraved. This serves several purposes:
- It helps to clear away any debris or particles that are generated during the engraving process, which can help to improve the overall appearance of the finished product.
- It helps to dissipate heat, which can prevent the material being engraved from overheating and potentially being damaged.
- It can help to reduce the amount of smoke and fumes that are generated during the engraving process, which can make it easier to see the work area and can improve the overall working environment.
Overall, the use of air assist can help to improve the accuracy and quality of the engraving, and can make the process more efficient and enjoyable for the operator.
Eye Protection goggles
Diode lasers are a type of laser that produces a very intense, narrow beam of light. This beam can be very harmful to the eyes if it is looked at directly. Protective glasses or goggles are worn when working with a diode laser engraver to protect the eyes from the laser beam. The glasses or goggles are designed to absorb or reflect the laser beam so that it does not reach the eyes. It is important to always wear protective eyewear when working with lasers to avoid the risk of eye injury.