“Meme” Competition

We had an unfortunate accident with our brand new iPad Mini 4 last week (it didn’t like training on a treadmill with us and yes, it is as bad as it looks)… but our pain could be your gain! Our Global Premium Partner Trotec Laser found the humour in the situation and is offering a great prize for the best meme. 5 sheets of TroLase consumable material is on offer (sorry this one is only for Australians) for the meme judged best to cheer us up. Just a few rules to follow:

1. Please keep the meme clean!

2. Entries close Friday 26 February at 5pm Australian Eastern Daylight Time (6am in London and 1am EST USA). We will announce the winner that weekend.

3. Entries can be sent the following ways:

  • facebook, instagram or twitter using the two hashtags #CheerUpEngraversRegister and #TroLase
  • or via email register@engraversregister.com with your details

We’re looking forward to seeing how creative everyone is and help put a smile on our face! Start sending your entries today!

IMG_3910[1] IMG_3911[1]

Some early submissions:

iPad  Bieber IMG_5199 IMG_5202 Newspaper

More fashion and laser machines!

We can never go past fashion and laser machines working together, especially at a Fashion Week! This video shows Berlin fashion week and how our global premium partner Trotec Laser was involved.

Very cool project from Trotec Laser

Our Global Premium Partner, Trotec Laser, sent us this project created in honour of their Austrian global headquarters. It was made by Trotec Laser Australia on a Speedy 500 machine using TroLase material. All material is inlaid and it is backed on 6mm acrylic. We love seeing so many creative projects and the true possibilities of laser engraving machines.

Austrian Coat of Arms IMG_3853[1] IMG_3854[1]

 

What laser does Davenport West High School utilize for their STEM program?

The below article comes from a Trotec distributor in the USA, Wanlasers and his customer Davenport West High School

Davenport West High School

Davenport West High School loves the Trotec Speedy 100 laser and rotary attachment.  The machine is powerful, well-built and easy to use.  Our school has had the Trotec in the school for 1 1/2 years and it seems like each week, we learn something new to do with the laser.  The students have great ideas; for example, they created business cards for a robotics event and they used the laser to the business cards out.  Less than 30 seconds for a set of 10 cards cut out perfectly.  Recently with the help of the Trotec Rep, we were able to make rubber stamps for an event at the State Fair.

The Trotec Speedy 100 has been heavily utilized in our after school robotics program to make promotional items.  Another group has made custom signs for a fundraiser.  We are in the process of making a partnership with the local community to do more unique projects.   The machine has been amazing and I have only been limited by my imagination.

This machine has allowed our school to expand and enhance the curriculum we currently teach.  This machine will help teach skills and concepts needed for future jobs.  When I have questions, I talk to my Trotec Rep and if he doesn’t know the answer, he finds the answer.

Materials we have tried – Wood (Oak, Walnut, Maple, Pine),  Plywood, Plastic/Acrylic, Rubber, Paper, Cardboard, Metal (with spray), and glass.  I will continue to try new things to engrave or cut.

Find about the latest projects and creations on Twitter @GregSmithPLTW

Greg Smith – Davenport West High School (Davenport, IA)

 

Laser vs CNC? What’s the best?

This blog post is from the Blog: HowtoLaser.com, comparing the benefits of laser machines vs CNC routing machines. A must for every engraving and laser machine business to review.

LaservsCNC_feature

Laser vs CNC Mill – Why Buy A Laser?

Posted By Adrian

There are a few main reasons why you would purchase a laser as opposed to a CNC Mill. The 4 main reasons are:

  • Little to no post processing (Flame Polished Edges)
  • Precision
  • Speed
  • Processing Costs

In this article we will compare and contrast Laser vs CNC Mill and help explain why to buy a laser.

One main advantage that a laser has over a CNC Mill is that there is little to no post processing needed after cutting out a product from its parent material. The laser is able to create a flame polished edge in acrylic for example which would be a cost intensive manual process if the same product was cut on a CNC Mill. The laser is also able to create a higher quality, uniform cut around the product, even in hard to reach places or on small intricate parts, which hand polishing could not achieve. The CNC Mill post processing is time intensive, which means a product will have a higher production cost, resulting in lower profit margins.

Edge Finish
Laser vs CNC Mill Edge Finish

The second advantage that a laser cutter has over a CNC Mill is the precision of the cut. A trotec laser has the ability to cut a radius of 0.1mm / 0.004 inches and up, where as typically a CNC Mill can only cut down to 2mm / 0.08 inches and up. This means curves and corners will be exactly as designed and have a higher degree of precision. A trotec laser also has a very small kerf value compared to a CNC Mill which means parts can be very closely nested together saving material and lowering overall costs.

Laser vs CNC Mill Precision
Laser vs CNC Mill Precision

One of the most contributing factors to a laser purchase is the speed compared to a CNC Mill. A trotec laser is at least twice as fast as a router for most applications. A laser is able to cut thick material in one pass, where as a CNC Mill will need to do multiple passes to cut the same thickness. A laser also does not require the work piece to be clamped down as there is no physical force being applied to the material, so this is a step the laser can eliminate from the manufacturing process. Providing the work piece is flat, the lasers repeatability and reliability to create exact copies each and every time, is much higher than that of a CNC Mill. This confidence in the machine is key to a successful, efficient work environment.

Laser Cut vs CNC Cut - Speed Test
Laser Cut vs CNC Cut – Speed Test

The last main advantage that the laser has over the CNC Mill is of course the process costs associated with the use of the machine. As we touched on before, the CNC Mill has many more steps involved in order to create a final product. A CNC Mill requires the user to clamp the work piece, clean and polish / post process the item before getting to the end product. A laser will bypass these steps. A laser has the ability to produce a final product without any post processing or clamping. This may seem a small issue, but it adds up to a significant time and cost saving.

Below I have created a table of processing cost breakdowns with typical values, to allow you to quickly see the costs involved in both Laser and CNC Mill cutting.

Types of Costs CNC Milling Lasering
Fixing material and vacuum preparation $7,000($20/h * 350h / p.a) $0
Edge Post Processing (Flame Polishing) $40,000($20/h * 2000h / p.a) $0
Remaining machine set-up time and machine cleaning $1,500($20/h * 75h / p.a) $1,500($20/h * 75h / p.a)
Filter Costs $0 $4,800(120lbs active carbon)
Tool Head / Consumable cost $9,600
($48 * 200 heads p.a)
$1,000
TOTAL P.A. $58,100 p.a $7,300 p.a

Save 87.5%

So as you can see there is a pretty large discrepancy in the cost between using a laser and a CNC Mill. Your application might give better or worse results, this table is based around typical acrylic cutting applications. One thing you must keep in mind is labour costs; hiring a part time employee at $20 an hour quickly racks up unnecessary costs to flame polish the edges of a material, where a laser will be able to create a finished product, which saves on overheads, increases profit margins and dramatically decreases setup time.

If you are considering to buy a laser, I would strongly suggest you have a look at our friends Trotec laser. They sell the highest quality, most precise consumer and industrial solutions available on the market.

That’s it for now

Catch ya next time!

Fiber Laser to Color Change Plastic: Hard Drive Marking

In this blog post, CNCROi.com color changes plastic… without melting it… on a hard drive using our fiber laser tube. The results are permanent, the results awesome!

 

Having a dual-sourced industrial wide format Austrian CNC laser has many advantages but one that isn’t shown too often is the ability of our fiber laser tube (we have a CO2 as well) to color change plastic without melting it.

fiber laser color changing a hard drive, branding it

If we tried what you saw in the video and images below using our CO2 laser source, it would be a hot mess, here’s a picture showcasing the difference but it would be worse because this is a rubbery kind of plastic, not solid like the earlier hard drive test we did.

fiber laser color changing a hard drive, branding it

As we aren’t actually touching the hard drive or components with anything but surface light, the electronics inside are safe, they are not heated nor are there any vibrations of any kind. This has no effect on the hard drive at all.

fiber laser color changing a hard drive, branding it

Why would somebody want to do this? There are several reasons, the first is branding, it’s permanent and not coming off. It’s also a fantastic way to kill the resale value or possibility of theft as the mark is permanent. If needed, we can also engrave the internal hard drive inside as well so just removing the casing still wouldn’t be a way around theft or resale.

fiber laser color changing a hard drive, branding it

What is really cool about our CNC laser though is that we can run it through a database, so if you had a thousand of these hard drives needing PERMANENT fiber marking and tracking, we can fiber mark a unique QR code or anything else you want to each one.

fiber laser color changing a hard drive, branding it

This presents a lot of opportunities for our clients, see past the hard drive and think workshop tooling, small equipment and other items that are either prone to theft or you wish to hand out for marketing purposes. We can literally brand any and all surfaces to your specs.

fiber laser color changing a hard drive, branding it

Are there any downsides to permanently fiber marking equipment? Yes, it’s permanent. So, be sure that anything you want us to CNC laser fiber mark or color change won’t be changing anytime soon.

fiber laser color changing a hard drive, branding it

Yes, there are many alternatives to CNC laser color changing, stickers are great but easily come off, scratching these by hand is an option if you have more patience than we do and so is UV printing but those all fade, chip or come off over time. Our process is PERMANENT.

fiber laser color changing a hard drive, branding it

Laser Cut Peach Pie for Thanksgiving

We loved this article so much we wanted to revisit it for this year. Below is a step by step guide as to how to create a lasercut Peach Pie (just imagine it’s pumpkin for Thanksgiving). The Engravers Register wishes all of our United States friends a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Feel free to share your Laser Cut Thanksgiving Pies with us!
The holiday season really starts with Thanksgiving on Thursday 27 November, so why not play around with some cool holiday designs on your pie with your laser machine? The below yummy recipe is reproduced from Instructables, by author Ejosully. Make sure you share any creations with us!
YUMMMM!!!!
Picture of Laser Cut Peach Pie

Step 1: What you’ll need

Picture of What you'll need
Ingredients for the pastry:– 445g plain flour
– Salt
– 175g cold butter
– 95g vegetable fat
– Iced water (or regular water and dry ice, but this is probably overkill)
– 1 eggIngredients for the filling:– 1.2kg peaches
– 100g sugar
– 3 tablespoons cornflour
– Quarter teaspoon ground nutmeg
– Half teaspoon cinnamon
– Juice of 1 lemon
– 30g butterEquipment:

– 9inch / 23cm pie tin
– Laser cutter (optional, but without this it will just be a regular pie!)
– Wooden chopping board
– Large bowl
– Sieve
– Potato peeler
– Rolling pin
– Pastry brush
– Clingfilm
– Greaseproof paper

 Step 2: Prepare the pastry to make the leaves
Picture of Prepare the pastry to make the leaves
Sift 285g of the plain flour and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt into a large bowl.Add 115g of the butter and 60g of the vegetable fat. Rub the mixture together with your hands until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs.Add 6 tablespoons of iced water and knead the dough together. Gather it into balls, wrap it in clingfilm and store it in the fridge.
Step 3: Cut the leaves in the Laser

Picture of Cut the leaves in the lazzor
Set up the laser:Import the attached PDF into your laser-cutting software. You will probably need to test quite a few different settings until you get it right.Cut the leaves:Break off a bit of the dough and put it on a sheet of greaseproof paper. Roll it out to about 3mm thick.Place the dough and greaseproof paper on the wooden chopping board and pop it in the laser cutter. Depending on how thick your chopping board is you might need to take the honeycomb mesh out of the laser cutter bed to fit it in. When cutting, the greaseproof paper will avoid the dough sticking to the board, and the board will make sure you don’t damage the bed of the laser cutter if you overshoot.

You can copy and paste the leaf vector in your laser-cutting software and set a few running at a time to speed it up a bit. You’ll need to end up with around 50 leaves, so you can probably do ten at a time if you roll out enough dough.

IMPORTANT NOTE!: As soon as you’re done lasering one piece of pastry, put it back in the fridge in a container so it doesn’t dry out. The lasering process will take at least an hour, and the first time I tried this out the crust burnt after ten minutes in the oven because it had dried out while it was sat on the side.

Step 4: Heat up the oven and prepare the filling

Heat the oven to 220 C / 425 F / Gas mark 7.Fill a large heat-proof bowl or saucepan with boiling water. Drop the peaches into the boiling water for at least 20 seconds, then transfer them into another bowl filled with cold water. Leave them to cool down, them peel and slice them.Put the peach slices into a large bowl and add the sugar, cornflour, nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon juice. Put the bowl to one side.Step 5: Make the pastry base

Picture of Make the pastry base
Sift the rest of the plain flour and half a teaspoon of salt into a bowl. Knead in the rest of the butter and vegetable fat, add 3 tablespoons of iced water and mould it into a ball.Roll out the dough about 3mm thick. Transfer it into the pie tin and trim off the edges. Keep the trimmings for decorating the crust later.Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of iced water and brush the pastry base with the glaze.NOTE: This photo is from the first time I tried this recipe, when I tried lining the pie tin with greaseproof paper to make the pie easier to remove. The paper ended up burning as the pie takes so long to bake, but you might want to use tinfoil instead if you want to transfer the pie onto a plate for serving.Step 6: Add the filling and arrange the leaves

Picture of Add the filling and arrange the leaves
Pour the filling into the pie, piling it a bit higher in the middle. Dot with the 30g of butter.Arrange the leaves on top of the filling, starting at the outside and working your way in. Finish it off by rolling some of the pastry trimmings into balls and using them to cover the hole in the centre.Brush with the glaze.
Step 7: Bake itBake the pie for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 180 C / 350 F / Gas mark 4 and bake it for another 35-40 minutes.Check on it regularly as the crust is prone to burning (see pic 2 for my first attempt at this, which went slightly wrong).Enjoy, it tastes lush!

Picture of Laser Cut Peach Pie

Following up on crowdfunding

We can’t believe it’s a year ago that we looked into the concept of crowdfunding as a method of financing your laser machines and equipment. Given the launch of the exciting new concept Lasers for Education, a crowdfunding program and site specifically developed for the educational sector, we thought we might revisit this option and how to manage it. Below is our original blog post from 23 November 2014.

“Crowdfunding” is the latest catchphrase in the finance and funding world, but how relevant is it to the engraving industry and is it worthwhile option to investigate separate to the normal finance and leasing options? There are so many platforms out there, which is the best one to use? Australian business, Chocolate Brownie Leather (CBL) recently used the Kickstarter platform to successfully raise funds to purchase a laser machine, but is it right for you? Below are some considerations.

Firstly, it’s important to identify WHY you are looking to raise funds. Are you looking to raise money to start a business, upgrade your laser machine or looking to commence a dream engraving project that you couldn’t fund as part of your normal business operations? You must have an end goal in mind as many crowd-funding sites have limitations on projects and different types of sites are suited to different purposes. CBL need  to raise some additional funds to secure finance for the purchase of her Trotec Laser machine. CBL had a set goal in mind and usage.

Secondly, what is the best platform for you to use? Kickstarter is focussed on creative industries, there are equity funding sites for start-ups (if you’re looking to establish a business) and even crowdfunding sites dedicated to helping raise funds for lawsuits! Google even has it’s own crowdfunding tool, Contributor for publishers. Thoroughly search the various sites and options before deciding on your preferred site. How long will you want to raise funds for as well?

Thirdly, ensure your project has suitable rewards for backers and is seen to minimise their risk. CBL offered a range of beautiful quality hand-crafted leather pieces as rewards for her backers (there was a range of rewards on offer for backers). Plus using Kickstarter, backers are not charged until full funding is achieved.

Finally, you still have to work  for it! Backers won’t just come to you. Just like any other element if your business, you have to market and sell the crowdfunding component to ensure success.

Crowdfunding can be an out-of-the box way of raising funds from backers around the world, so it’s definitely worthwhile investigating whether it suits your business model.

Below is Chocolate Brownie Leather’s Kickstarter promotional video.

Our favourite guest Engravers Register blogger Jon from CNCKing.com is also part of the Kickstarter action. He has 8 days to go in his campaign – good luck!

CNC Laser Cutting Old 1/4 inch (6 mm) School Shelving into Kid Activity

We think this is a great idea, and particularly relevant for our new partner Lasers for Education.

Thanks again to  CNCROi.com for your blog post, where we recycle old and worn school shelving into a fun new activity for school children.

I’m pretty sure that these shelves, located in a classroom, are older than me which makes them a perfect material to be recycled into a school activity for children in their school. It teaches them about recycling – instead of throwing out perfectly good plywood – and also give the laser something fun to do!

cnc laser pumpkin shelving

Generally we don’t feature any customer projects on CNCROi.com but I made an exception in this case as it’s just such a wonderful case study of the power a CNC laser can bring into the classroom and the lessons that can be taught that one person’s junk is another person’s pride and joy (after the kids paint them).

cnc laser pumpkin shelving

These are not meant to be stencils but this wood was probably the best plywood I’ve cut with our industrial wide-format Austrian laser. The wood was dry, straight and incredibly well textured from all the decades of kids throwing stuff on and off them. This wasn’t junk by any stretch!

cnc laser pumpkin shelving

The entire project entailed custom cutting more than two dozen “stencils”, with the letter being shown representing the child’s first letter in their last name. The cutting process was incredibly clean, I guess in the old days they had more wood in plywood than glue!

cnc laser pumpkin shelving

The great feature about this project was whether the files were all the same or different, it made no difference at all to us here at CNCROi.com. The laser cuts “on-demand” and although several of these letters were repeated (not shown), the result was always the same. A crisp stencil and outline.

cnc laser pumpkin shelving

It just goes to show you the versatility we can offer a business with their products, instead of throwing them out… send it to customers and potentials for promotional and marketing uses! We can mark, etch, engrave and cut just about any material.

cnc laser pumpkin shelving

While cutting through these shelves, we also discovered some embeded nails, good thing this wasn’t cut using our CNC router otherwise we would have gone through some bits! What fascinated me about that was the laser would essentially cut “around” the nail, meaning that even under the nail, the plywood was cut (as well as above) but the nail itself wasn’t cut (we don’t have that kind of laser).

cnc laser pumpkin shelving

Some of these boards were in better condition than others, but there was surprisingly little warping, again, this was the kind of solid plywood you just can’t find anymore!

cnc laser pumpkin shelving

The entire cutting process was done relatively quickly considering how many we had to do, I could have done quite a few boards at once but I wanted to do one at a time for photographic and video reasons. Our bed is HUGE and we take full advantage of it when we can… which is why client projects are fun… because things are optimized to the hilt as nobody will ever see the light of day that we did it or how we did it.

cnc laser pumpkin shelving

The applications of projects we could have done with this material are endless, it would have been fantastic for model making due to the quality of the plywood, great for signage and stencils due to its straightness, amazing for jigs and just about any other use in the shop or for our clients. We also could have made great custom business cards out of these too.

cnc laser pumpkin shelving

There was very little waste left after we CNC laser cut these pumpkins out of the plywood.

cnc laser pumpkin shelving

Throughout the cutting process, very little vapor was seen, due to the dryness and quality of the plywood. This meant that the video showcasing the cutting of these boards is incredibly clear. This is also due to our extraction capabilities and gas kit, basically pushing what little smoke there was being produced quickly out of our Trotec Speedy 400 flexx laser.

cnc laser pumpkin shelving

I hope you enjoyed the vision that the teacher who rescued this fantastic plywood for their class had… I wish more people were as imaginative to see alternative uses for perfectly good material!

cnc laser pumpkin shelving