Episode 16: Speed and Power

Episode 16: Speed and Power

Welcome to Laser Lowdown, the All Things Laser podcast,

with your host Louie Alvarez.

Laser Lowdown, the All Things Laser podcast

Laser Lowdown, the All Things Laser podcast

When customers ask me for settings to use when working with a new material, they hate the answer I give. NO, I do not have a setting for you!

But in all fairness it is a brutally honest answer and it shows how much I stress that it is imperative that laser operators test THEIR material on THEIR laser system to determine THEIR preference, which is completely subjective. What I like may be to dark or to light for the next guy and vice versa. This is entirely subjective so I always explain this and provide the following “Rule of Thumb” to begin with.

Raster Engraving “Rule of Thumb”

High Speed w/ Variable being Power

Vector Cutting “Rule of Thumb”

High Power w/ Variable being Speed

Of course there are exceptions to the rule, such as wood, glass and marble tend to require high power with slow speed to get optimal results but this provides a starting point for customers to begin their testing phase.

The best method I’ve found to determine optimal settings is to engraving five (5) 1/2″ boxes on a 2″x3″ piece of material, such as cherry wood. These boxes will all be side by side with each box set at full speed but each box have a different power settings. 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% & 100%. What this does is show dramatically different power outputs next to each other to get a sense of what is going to be the best setting to use for cherry wood. Make sure to engrave the settings of each box underneath the corresponding box!

The great thing about conducting your material testing in this manner is if you add velcro to the back of the wood piece and stick it to the wall above the computer that operates your laser system, you can see at a glance exactly what settings produce what results on that specific material. If you have a customer who is not sure of what the results will be you can show them this piece. You should ALWAYS create a “journal/log/spreadsheet” hard copy of these settings to have available in the inevitable event that your computer crashes. You’ll need this written reference as a backup or you will likely have to retest all your materials all over again. Fortunately you will also have this physical piece tested showing your results as well.

Conduct your testing phase on ALL materials as above or similar and you’ll have a visual reference, a hard copy and pride of determining the best setting to your likes!

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  1. Daryn
    Jul 14, 2013

    Excellent Louie !
    Thank you so much for your valued information and wealth of experience.

    • Louie Alvarez
      Jul 14, 2013

      You are most welcome Daryn, I hope the information I provide helps you either in your research for a laser machine (consider a CheckMate Laser) or helps you in operation of your current laser. Thanks much for visiting and listening.


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