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Thread: Fiber laser engraver recommendations

  1. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by mike wallis View Post
    Hello Kev,
    We are considering going to a fiber to phase out the Thermark. Two main reasons is it's time consuming, messy and toxic when sprayed. We use Thermark on stainless steel and brass (1/16" thick) for sizes from 1x3" to 18x24". What are you main disappointments using the fiber compared to the Cermark?
    Sorry I missed this the first time...

    For one thing, non-ferrous metals like brass, copper and bronze don't respond well to a fiber, if at all. And because they don't respond well, they, and copper in particular, become mirrors able to reflect the beam back up into the lens. Personally, I'm of the opinion that while this is true, what would normally reach the lens would be so out of focus as to be insignificant. I accidentally put my arm right thru the beam one day to open my exhaust's blast gate while engraving black anodized at 100% power. The only reason I knew I'd done it is the laser's 'music' stopped playing -- didn't feel a thing. Not a smart move, but it did tell me that an out of focus fiber beam had no effect on my skin. Counter point-- twice with the fiber and many times with the LS900 I've been hit with beam reflections (engraving curved items) and in all cases, I was a good 2' from the source of the reflection, and in all cases I felt a very pronounced amount of heat. SO-- it's definitely possible an errant reflect could damage the machines- and your eyes if you're not wearing glasses.

    More on not responding well, I have a piece of solid copper, and some copper plated cups I've tested. Solid copper just won't mark. Occasionally I hit a speed/power/freq setting that worked somewhat, but it wouldn't repeat. Same with the cup, once in awhile I'd get a dark brown burn, but right next to it a faint mark. The burn was simply that the laser found its way thru the coating and was burning the stainless base metal.

    As for engraving stainless--
    On mirrored or otherwise shiny SS, setting the laser at lower power and a higher freq results in a nice bright mark that is very high contrast to the shiny surface. How bright depends on settings, and also hatch spacing. Too much power and the result starts to go yellow. Too tight a hatch and the result is 'flat', but in certain cases this is a good thing. Black Cermark on shiny SS is counter productive because whatever is reflected from the background surroundings washes out the marking. If there's nothing but blue sky or white walls reflecting (rare in real life ) then okay. Think knife blades- every customer (but one) I used to black Cermark on polished blades LOVES the bright engraving. Polished SS, fiber wins.

    For mill finish or #4 or other non-shiny finish, you simply can't beat Cermark. It's main pain is the extra steps involved, but the results can't be beat. I do a LOT of stainless, I just bought my 3rd 500 gram bottle this YEAR. Black via Cermark simply works, and is very popular with my customers. Give up spraying it and start brushing it, it's easier, no overspray to worry about, in my testing I use half as much brushing as spraying (I'm taking 1 to 4+ square foot operator panels)...

    Even for small plates, a fiber isn't the best option for black. For deep engraving to keep some engineers happy, the fiber works okay. It's actually slower than tool engraving, but that extra time is more than evened out by NOT having to sharpen the laser beam .. Tool sharpening time can add up to the ridiculous... Getting SS a decent black via slow annealing requires reasonably thick material. Just before typing this I just did a pair of .020" thick SS disks, a repeat of some I did a month ago, except back then the disks were .031" thick- the place was out of those, so I had to settle for the thinner. The .031 didn't go anywhere near black, but WAS acceptably dark, but the .020 (both 304ss) didn't go anywhere near DARK let alone black. I have no scientific evidence, but what I see from my jobs is thicker goes blacker. Must be a heat thing, I assume the thinner cools off before the carbon at the surface can oxidize. And basic SS small plates are typically 20ga, which is roughly .031 thick. And even you get it black, the time it takes is excruciating!

    I could keep going but that's the jist of it, based on my experiences. Been using Cermark for 15 years, and for all it's cost and PIA factor, until something else that actually works comes along, I'll keep using it
    TEN CNC rotary tool engravers, 3- V3400's, 2- V5000XT's, 1- V5000, 1- V3200, 1- IS400, 1- IS7000, 1- C2000, all New Hermes
    TWO C02 metal lasers, 1- NH LS900 40w, 1- GCC Explorer 35w
    ONE C02 glass laser, Triumph 80w
    ONE Galvo fiber laser, Triumph 30w
    ONE vinyl cutter, New Hermes
    ONE large electric bill. Rocky Mountain Power
    Shears x3, Saws x4, Compressors x4
    Blowers x3, Grinders x3, Drill Presses x2
    Mini lathe,Belt sander
    All at home...





  2. #17
    I appreciate the responses because I was curious as well. But damn, you guys make it hard to be excited about getting a fiber.
    Trotec Speedy 300 - 80 watt
    Epilog Mini 18 - 35 watt
    CorelDraw X7

  3. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob John View Post
    I appreciate the responses because I was curious as well. But damn, you guys make it hard to be excited about getting a fiber.
    In my opinion, the fiber does it's best on things like anodized aluminum. When you can make something in less than 1 second, you're on to something special. It does things like legend plates for electrical components in .3 seconds or something crazy. That's where it's at, in my opinion. Marking stainless isn't what it's best at. It'll do it, but it's not where the fiber shines.
    Lasers : Trotec Speedy 300 75W, Universal PLS4.60 with Rotary Attachment
    Printers : Mimaki UJF-6042 UV Flatbed Printer , HP Designjet L26500 61" Wide Format Latex Printer,
    Ricoh Dye Sublimation Printer, Summa S140-T 48" Vinyl Plotter
    Router : ShopBot 48" x 96" CNC Router Rotary Engravers : (2) Xenetech XOT 16 x 25 Rotary Engravers

    Real name Steve but that name was taken on the forum. Used Middle name. Call me Steve or Scott, doesn't matter.

  4. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Eugene, Oregon
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    I'll add on a bit as well.
    About the only time the fiber outshines Cermark is on small text and/or small areas to mark. The time to apply Cermark and laser is usually a bit more than fiber marking and you don't have the prep time/cleanup to deal with. I mark a fair number of stethoscopes and it is infinitely faster with the fiber than using Cermark, plus the alignment is 1,000 times easier.

    If anyone could ever figure out fiber settings that would work with Cermark it might be a game changer!

    Bleaching anodized aluminum is so much faster with a fiber than co2 and it gives a more consistent, whiter mark than you can ever get with co2. This isn't so for a gantry fiber, just a galvo fiber.
    I have done so much with so little for so long, that I can do almost anything with practically nothing...

    Trotec Speedy 400 80 watt 8/2015
    G. Weike LF-30, 30 watt galvo fiber - 1/2016
    G. Weike LF-30, 30 watt galvo fiber - 3/2015
    DCS-1024DD - 10" x 24" UV Printer
    Fargo HDP5000 Card printer
    40HP Diesel, Rotary screw compressor - "The Beast"
    24" x 40" sandblasting cabinet
    FFL-01


  5. #20
    The best way to think of a fiber laser is as an additional tool rather than a replacement for one

    I've done some remarkable things with mine, but it'll never replace Cermark, C02 lasers or good ol' rotating cutter tools. (If it did, I'd have about 4 more fibers and about 14 less other machines! )
    TEN CNC rotary tool engravers, 3- V3400's, 2- V5000XT's, 1- V5000, 1- V3200, 1- IS400, 1- IS7000, 1- C2000, all New Hermes
    TWO C02 metal lasers, 1- NH LS900 40w, 1- GCC Explorer 35w
    ONE C02 glass laser, Triumph 80w
    ONE Galvo fiber laser, Triumph 30w
    ONE vinyl cutter, New Hermes
    ONE large electric bill. Rocky Mountain Power
    Shears x3, Saws x4, Compressors x4
    Blowers x3, Grinders x3, Drill Presses x2
    Mini lathe,Belt sander
    All at home...





  6. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Kev Williams View Post
    The best way to think of a fiber laser is as an additional tool rather than a replacement for one
    Agree 100%.

    Just as an example, we have a repeat job that is anodized aluminum and has alphanumeric serial numbers on them that are about 15 digits long. I just ran 25 of them at 1 second each. The automatic serial number incremented up each cycle, so I didn't have to do anything. The job, from start to finish, setup and everything, took 8 minutes. That was clamping a block to the table to push the parts against, aligning the block, focusing, and engraving all 25. We get $5 each for them. So $125 in 8 minutes. To me, that's the power of a fiber.
    Lasers : Trotec Speedy 300 75W, Universal PLS4.60 with Rotary Attachment
    Printers : Mimaki UJF-6042 UV Flatbed Printer , HP Designjet L26500 61" Wide Format Latex Printer,
    Ricoh Dye Sublimation Printer, Summa S140-T 48" Vinyl Plotter
    Router : ShopBot 48" x 96" CNC Router Rotary Engravers : (2) Xenetech XOT 16 x 25 Rotary Engravers

    Real name Steve but that name was taken on the forum. Used Middle name. Call me Steve or Scott, doesn't matter.

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    NW Arkansas
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    Scott and Kev have said it right. I'm still a newbie at both, but I took a chance and added a fiber as I had several things that the CO2 just wouldn't do. Deep engrave aluminum. But one of the first paying jobs was making one 3mm number on four sides of a part, Carbide cutting tool - several hundred. I gave them a pretty cheap price, thinking It would take me a lot longer than it did. Pick and place 6 at a time, turn, flip, turn and stack back in proper box. Took me half the time I thought and I wish I could do same job once a week. Quick painless and good job. No way with CO2.
    Woodworking, Old Tools and Shooting
    Ray Fine RF-1390 Laser
    Ray Fine 20watt Fiber Laser
    PM2000, Delta BS, Delta sander, Powermatic 50 jointer,
    Powermatic100-12 planer, Rockwell 15-126 radial drill press
    Rockwell 46-450 lathe, and 2 Walker Turner RA1100 radial saws

    RIA 22TCM 1911s

  8. #23
    Can anyone post a layman's guide to IPG vs SPI vs RAYCUS, etc.? I'm thoroughly confused at this point, with very little info out there to read. Mopa is another one though I think in reading it's attached/manufactured by SPI? Help me out guys!
    Trotec Speedy 300 - 80 watt
    Epilog Mini 18 - 35 watt
    CorelDraw X7

  9. #24
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Eugene, Oregon
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    3,106
    IPG, SPI and Raycus are manufacturers of the laser source. Mine are both Raycus and have worked fine for me. I'm not sure where they all land as far as quality, durability, etc., but as I said, mine are both working fine. MOPA is a technology and I'm pretty sure all manufacturers have a MOPA source available. There are advantages to MOPA but since I don't have one I can't tell you exactly what they are and what processes that would give you a benefit by having a MOPA source.
    I have done so much with so little for so long, that I can do almost anything with practically nothing...

    Trotec Speedy 400 80 watt 8/2015
    G. Weike LF-30, 30 watt galvo fiber - 1/2016
    G. Weike LF-30, 30 watt galvo fiber - 3/2015
    DCS-1024DD - 10" x 24" UV Printer
    Fargo HDP5000 Card printer
    40HP Diesel, Rotary screw compressor - "The Beast"
    24" x 40" sandblasting cabinet
    FFL-01


  10. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Hair View Post
    IPG, SPI and Raycus are manufacturers of the laser source. Mine are both Raycus and have worked fine for me. I'm not sure where they all land as far as quality, durability, etc., but as I said, mine are both working fine. MOPA is a technology and I'm pretty sure all manufacturers have a MOPA source available. There are advantages to MOPA but since I don't have one I can't tell you exactly what they are and what processes that would give you a benefit by having a MOPA source.
    Thanks Gary! I've been on all their sites independently and read about their lasers, but there's not much out there for comparison in the form of reviews.
    Trotec Speedy 300 - 80 watt
    Epilog Mini 18 - 35 watt
    CorelDraw X7

  11. #26
    The difference is quality and options. Want more control over what's happening? Spend more money. For example, the Raycus will only do 20KHz to 80KHz, while something like the SPI might go up to 180Khz or even higher, which allows you to do different things.

    It's all in what you plan to use it for and what your budget is. If you want to do it all and only have $5,000, then you're not going to make that happen.

    Look at what they are doing with a Trotec Speedmarker FL MOPA. It's crazy. Would love to have that. Almost full color graphics on stainless.
    Lasers : Trotec Speedy 300 75W, Universal PLS4.60 with Rotary Attachment
    Printers : Mimaki UJF-6042 UV Flatbed Printer , HP Designjet L26500 61" Wide Format Latex Printer,
    Ricoh Dye Sublimation Printer, Summa S140-T 48" Vinyl Plotter
    Router : ShopBot 48" x 96" CNC Router Rotary Engravers : (2) Xenetech XOT 16 x 25 Rotary Engravers

    Real name Steve but that name was taken on the forum. Used Middle name. Call me Steve or Scott, doesn't matter.

  12. #27
    Join Date
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    Steve, Did that by accident this past weekend on my M2. Going to get a sheet of stainless and experiment some more.

    20170717_165228w.jpg
    Tim
    There are Big Brain people & Small Brain people. I'm one of the Big Brains - with a lot of empty space.- me
    50W Fiber - Max Photonics - Chinese built/USA assembled (Any day now)
    Epilog Fusion M2 50/30 Co2/Fiber - 2015
    Epilog Mini 24 35watt - 2006 (Original Tube)
    Ricoh SG3110DN
    - Liberty Laser LLC

  13. #28
    This is a photo of what I saw a video for. I've looked and can't locate the video. The video showed this being engraved. This is 100% done on a Trotec Speedmarker 700 on stainless. Pretty remarkable stuff if you ask me. That's the differences I'm talking about when I say the difference in options.

    TrotecMOPA.jpg
    Lasers : Trotec Speedy 300 75W, Universal PLS4.60 with Rotary Attachment
    Printers : Mimaki UJF-6042 UV Flatbed Printer , HP Designjet L26500 61" Wide Format Latex Printer,
    Ricoh Dye Sublimation Printer, Summa S140-T 48" Vinyl Plotter
    Router : ShopBot 48" x 96" CNC Router Rotary Engravers : (2) Xenetech XOT 16 x 25 Rotary Engravers

    Real name Steve but that name was taken on the forum. Used Middle name. Call me Steve or Scott, doesn't matter.

  14. #29
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Posts
    1,673
    Someone said they wanted to get excited by Fiber lasers. I'd say that type of output would be something to get excited about.
    Tim
    There are Big Brain people & Small Brain people. I'm one of the Big Brains - with a lot of empty space.- me
    50W Fiber - Max Photonics - Chinese built/USA assembled (Any day now)
    Epilog Fusion M2 50/30 Co2/Fiber - 2015
    Epilog Mini 24 35watt - 2006 (Original Tube)
    Ricoh SG3110DN
    - Liberty Laser LLC

  15. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Shepherd View Post
    This is a photo of what I saw a video for. I've looked and can't locate the video. The video showed this being engraved. This is 100% done on a Trotec Speedmarker 700 on stainless. Pretty remarkable stuff if you ask me. That's the differences I'm talking about when I say the difference in options.

    TrotecMOPA.jpg
    Wow, that's awesome. I'm gonna find that video! And Tim, great work, that looks really good (even if it was an accident).
    Last edited by Jacob John; 07-17-2017 at 8:13 PM.
    Trotec Speedy 300 - 80 watt
    Epilog Mini 18 - 35 watt
    CorelDraw X7

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