Just like other power tools, laser cutters are normally built around doing things extremely well. However, they need an operator’s full support and attention. Operators must handle everything that goes on after, during and before the job. Getting adequate results isn’t hard. However, to get truly repeatable and professional ones takes experience, attention to detail and hard work.
It’s normal to focus on success stories. Nevertheless, learning from failures is more educational.
In the spirit of this idea, the following are some of the ways of failing miserably at engraving and laser cutting:
Failing to test a sample
Getting excellent results entails more than just speed settings and correct power. Even if speed and laser power are technically correct for a material, you must run a test. Doing so reveals any special handling that’s needed to get rid of cosmetic blemishes such as scorching.
Failing to install your equipment where smell and noise won’t be an issue
The cooling system, laser cutter, and exhaust fan are not as loud as table saws. Nonetheless, they’re still loud. They can run for long periods. This is especially true when engraving. If some folks are nearby, they may object to the noise. Additionally, even with proper filtration or exhaust, there will still be some smells from the cutting process. Therefore, installation should be done in environments where smell and noise won’t be problematic.
Failing to apply masking
Applying a mask of tape to your material prevents scorching from damaging the surface. Generally, it gives engraving and cuts a cleaner finish. Numerous plastics have a protective film on both or one side. Application tape is an excellent alternative for numerous materials. You can buy it from sign shops.
Failing to apply masking properly is also a possibility. Remember that if the mask shifts or lifts, it can ruin the piece big time.
Failing to budget and plan for extended needs of a laser cutter
Laser cutters need not only power, but also cooling and exhaust. An exhaust might be ducting and a fan or a filter system/fume extractor. Generally, it’s excellent practice to ensure any exhaust tubes are as short as they can possibly be. Is your laser tuber water-cooled? You need a cooling system, which circulates distilled water via the tube to close too.
To avoid the above failures, you must cultivate a sense of constant improvement and documentation. After all, failure is only bad if you don’t learn. Do not get distracted trying to improve your laser cutter for it to perform faster or do more. It might seem like the problem, but you may be the bottleneck.