Make your own I Love Dad wooden tie!

In honour of father’s day in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, we’re repeating this awesome post from June. For those down under… here’s a free file courtesy of Macquarie Engraving! Thanks Dave.

Download the zip file for free (save to your desktop and extract the CDR file). Make sure you send in some pictures of your creations!

If you’re interested – you can purchase more designs from the creator at

[download id=”14″]


CNC Fiber Laser Annealing 304 Stainless Steel

In this guest article, our regular guest blogger Canadian registered business shows an example of fiber laser annealing stainless steel using their Trotec Speedy 400 flexx laser.

CNC fiber laser annealing  304 stainless steel is something we do quite a bit of here at It’s a slow and methodical process but the results are permanent and highly visible.

Although this is an inefficient method of fiber annealing many 304 stainless steel custom bottle openers, the demo looks better on camera using this layout rather than a whole row.

cnc fiber laser annealing 304 stainless steel

CNC fiber annealing means that each stainless steel opener will be heat-treated identically, there is no pre or post processing required – as would be – if I was using Cermark and a CO2 laser source.

cnc fiber laser annealing 304 stainless steel

There is a lot of clearance between the stainless steel openers and the fiber laser lens because we have a special lens with a very precise focal length. This means we can anneal faster and more precisely, even on parts that are not totally flat or with height variances that would “traditionally” bang-up against the overhead gantry.

cnc fiber laser annealing 304 stainless steel

The fiber annealing process is quiet, there is no sound and all you see is the stainless steel becoming black instantly where it’s heat-treated. This is a very slow process – another reason why Cermark is used is to speed things up – but the results are simply stunning.

cnc fiber laser annealing 304 stainless steel

The camera has a tough time with highly reflective parts, rest assured, all these fiber annealed details are pitch black. The font size we can achieve with this process, just to give you an idea, can be microscopic and still be clearly legible.

cnc fiber laser annealing 304 stainless steel

Looking at it from various other angles, you can see now legible the content is. Fiber marking is a slightly faster process which does more scoring than blackening of the metal, that isn’t as clearly seen from all angles though for many applications, it’s fine, like part identification.

cnc fiber laser annealing 304 stainless steel

These are used as promotional gifts by my cousin who runs a welding shop. The stainless steel bottle openers can be kept in any environment as nothing was added or removed during the heat treating process.

cnc fiber laser annealing 304 stainless steel

No special coating is required, we can do the same regardless of metal from titanium through to anodized aluminum and even raw aluminum if required though that doesn’t become black, just white due to the low-carbon content.

cnc fiber laser annealing 304 stainless steel

Taking a closer-up view, you can see how smooth the surface is. If you wanted something rougher, we can increase the power to produce a texture that you can easily touch and feel. An application for this would be darker environments or those with a lot of dirt flying around, like the back of a crank shaft where the extra “hold” is a good thing for quick identification.

cnc fiber laser annealing 304 stainless steel

Next up is some dog tags, literally. This is the guard dog for the welding shop so thieves need to know who is attacking them should they choose to break in and steal equipment.

cnc fiber laser annealing 304 stainless steel

This is also 304 stainless steel, just slightly thinner than the bottle openers above. Each tag is identical though we could have just as easily done this through a database merge so, for instance, an alphanumeric code or QR code would identify each one uniquely.

cnc fiber laser annealing 304 stainless steel

As we aren’t damaging or warping the stainless steel in any way with this project, we fiber annealed both the front and back of the dog tag. When we have larger volumes, we make a jig just to make things more efficient but for small numbers, this is more than fine as our table is square and flat.

cnc fiber laser annealing 304 stainless steel

Just two were needed for this project but we could have easily done a production run in the thousands. The advantage of volume is a lower per-unit price. We can produce either high volume stamped metal tags or low volume CNC laser cut shapes, another unique aspect of… whether stainless steel or anodized aluminum or anything else, it’s your choice.

cnc fiber laser annealing 304 stainless steel



Thinking of buying a used laser machine? Beware!

We have another article courtesy of our Canadian registered businesses who shares their experience and advice about why you shouldn’t buy a used laser machine.

As a follow-up to my previous blog post about branding issues with Chinese laser manufacturers, the next step down the totem pole for most shops looking for a cheap laser are going the used route.

My Situation

I bought a new Trotec Speedy 400 flexx, it had the nice factory smell out of the crate, for me, going used was NEVER an option. The problem with finding a used Trotec Speedy 400 flexx in Canada at the time was that there were none, I was the first one to have it in this country!

I did have a lot of other options, finding a used (name your laser manufacturer) by contacting the manufacturers directly is the best approach, you’ll read about why later in this blog. Companies are always changing, what they bought years ago may not suit them anymore for various reasons and you can stand to get a very good machine for a lot less, sometimes still under warranty.

Things to watch for:


The money you spend on a CNC laser is directly proportional to the value of the tube, never forget this. The lower the price, regardless of the condition of the machine, the less value the tube has as it’s such a significant % of the overall value and price of the machine.

Different tubes have different lifespans even if they are the same, a glass tube lasts the least, a ceramic one the most. A fiber tube may have less wattage (30 watts in my case) but it costs significantly more than the equivalent in CO2. YAG is somewhere in-between depending on specs. So, if you see a machine with a 50 watt fiber tube for the same price as a 50 watt CO2 tube, something is up.

To add to the complexity, you also have to contend with leakage. CO2 tubes lose power over time, that brand new 130 watt CO2 machine bought new 5 years ago is no longer 130 watts today!

This is why you MUST ask that the tube be checked, takes less than a minute, to find out the TRUE wattage, don’t negotiate based on stickers, negotiate based on actual testing!

Buying a used CNC laser


How do you test to see if a laser is properly aligned? Laser cut a circle, cut a few of them (you can engrave too), regardless of the media, you shouldn’t see any “overlap” and you should have a closed loop. If the starting and end point of the circle don’t match, something is wrong and it needs to be fixed.

Also, test odd shapes and sizes, just to verify that the start point of the laser is the same as the end point. If your table isn’t perfectly flat or level, you’ll also see variations in engraving and cut quality as well. Don’t just cut a rectangle that’s 2 inches by 1 inches and base your buying decision on that. It’s too easy.

Buying a used CNC laser


I understand you are buying a used machine, but at the very least, you should have a clean lens and machine. If the lens is black, walk away. If the machine is dirty, walk away… this isn’t a used car that was left in the wilderness for 10 years, it’s a CNC laser that should have been well maintained and kept in tip-top shape. At the very least, the company should have cleaned it BEFORE you walked in the door out of courtesy.

Now, if you see the CNC laser bed all scratched-up, that’s fine, ask about getting a new one put in place… that’s really the least of your worries. It just shows the person who used the machine before actually USED IT which isn’t a bad sign.

Scratches and dings on the laser itself are nothing unless they cause the entire frame to go out of alignment. Even my NEW machine, after a few months, has a few scratches on it… from moving material on the bed and around the machine.

Buying a used CNC laser


If you are buying your machine from a quality manufacturer, it should have a warranty. If it doesn’t, just don’t buy it and move along. It’s a good idea to ask about extended warranties as well. Yes, the offshore laser guys will have a warranty, but if you have to pay for travel expenses, room and board… it’s useless. Make sure things can be fixed as locally as possible and ask about EMERGENCY situations.

“My laser blew the tube and it’s 1 am and I have a project due noon tomorrow, what would you do?”

Good answer “No problem, you come to my showroom and finish the work and we’ll set you up with a replacement within a few days, if not, we’ll ship you a loaner machine.”

Bad answer “It never happens so don’t worry about it” (what they are telling you is you are F#cked and not to bother them as soon as they get their money)

Buying a used CNC laser


There are GOOD sales guys and there are BAD ones. It’s often too late when you discover which you’ve been dealing with. Regardless of what you are TOLD, make sure to have everything in writing, including the tube power tests (they should do this right in-front of you), type of lens you will be getting, warranty information and payment terms.

A GOOD sales guy will do this automatically, not for your protection but for THEIRS, a bad one won’t care. Remember, you want your sales guy to be a bean counter and methodical, not your customers. I’m a bit different with my approach to sales, being a bit more creative but at the end of the day, I make sure that expectations are CLEARLY outlined.



Here is a fantastic case in point to illustrate this. A&E Magazine wrote a great article about USED LASERS, you can read it here “Used Lasers—A Great Deal or A Great Pain“. Give it a read, and you, like me, might be SERIOUSLY tempted to contact Access Business Solutions ( as hey, they sound like an expert being quoted by a magazine.

READ THIS: WARNING concerning Access Used Lasers

That “good idea” doesn’t sound so good anymore does it? The point I’m making is that regardless of what you read online, you are buying capital equipment that yes, you are trying to buy on the cheap, but is still a significant investment in time and treasure. If you can’t meet with anybody in person, DO NOT SEND THEM MONEY OR BUY FROM THEM. You aren’t buying a keychain!

Wood Industry Social Network (WISnet)

When I bought my brand new Trotec Speedy 400 flexx laser, I knew the people I was buying it from personally for more than two years. Simon, the director of Trotec Laser Australia taught me everything I know along with his son Reece and the staff at I shook their hands so much through those two years that no handshake was required when I closed the deal, only banking information! I used their equipment, got to know the whole team and I seriously couldn’t have had better mentorship before taking the plunge myself in short notice.

It gave me confidence and I knew the pitfalls of getting into the custom CNC business before I even started – that’s why my buying decision from saying “I need to buy one, how much” to me running to the bank to give two deposits on my machine took less than an hour to happen. It took so long because I literally ran to the bank!

I realize I’m a special case but I can only hope that you have a similar circumstance before you jump into the industry and buy your first laser or any other CNC equipment. If your plan is to treat the laser like a used car and drop in, give your cash after kicking the tires and leave with a thriving business… you are in for a world of hurt.

Custom Designed and Laser Cut Acrylic Hangers

In this video, one of our Canadian registered businesses designs and laser cuts acrylic hangers using their Trotec Speedy 400 flexx laser.

The applications for this range from corporate branding to wedding favors and even personal use, custom hangers are a great way to get a message out regardless of location and this will actually be used for years to come. These have been very popular with many design houses and fashion stores globally. is a professional custom CNC and laser shop based in Ontario, Canada with clients worldwide. can engrave, etch, mark, anneal and cut any material for any application in addition to custom design / build solutions.

CNC Laser Engraving and Cutting Cardboard Extravaganza

In this article, one of our Canadian registered businesses shares their experience about laser engraving and cutting carboard using their Trotec Speedy 400 flexx laser.


I know cardboard is plentiful and boring right? Wrong… this is a CNC laser engraving and cutting cardboard extravaganza!

CNC Laser Engraving and Cutting Cardboard Extravaganza –

Let’s dive deeper across a whole bunch of different types of cardboard and layouts to show you the versatility we can offer customers across a host of materials. You can pretty much replace the cardboard you see in the videos and links below with just about any other material from laminate to steel, plastics to woods. cardboard cnc laser cutting
Before we go too crazy, let’s start with a simple white sheet of cardboard, the dimensions are easy to work with as it optimizing it for cutting the most samples for our latest mail out and handouts. cardboard cnc laser cutting
After engraving the cardboard, yes, we can ENGRAVE cardboard… even regular paper in your laser printer… it was time to cut out the stencil. The precision is awesome and repeatable as you’ll see in this production run of about 200.
cardboard cnc laser cutting
Each stencil is cut perfectly, you can stack them up and see all the way through. There are always a few pieces that get “stuck” but they are easily taken care of, it just happens the air compressed them into the stencil instead of out of the stencil.
Looking at it close-up, you can see zero smoke damage or vapor, why? Because knows what it’s doing! We’ve done A LOT of cardboard stencils, A LOT! Our settings are dialed-in!

CNC Laser Engraving and Cutting Cardboard Extravaganza –

Alright, that was fun right? Time to move to something a bit more challenging… Kellogg’s Raisin Bran boxes! First, we’ll do the easy stuff, the large front (and back) of the box panels. Please note, cereal boxes were harmed during the production of these stencils.

cardboard cnc laser cutting
Due to the light weight of this cardboard and the “spaces” in-between them, I had to use some hold down, in this case, scrap 304 stainless steel business cards. These are rejects from a project we did earlier and material testing is what they are used for hence.
cardboard cnc laser cutting
We are able to just as easily engrave these cardboard boxes as the others, the only difference is that these ones have a cool graphic which we vaporise off.
cardboard cnc laser cutting
The next step, like the other cardboard boxes, is cutting out the stencil then the outline so they become a business card sized promo piece.
cardboard cnc laser cutting
This cardboard is more sturdy and thicker than the previous white one, makes no difference, it engraves and cuts the same with a few tweaks.
cardboard cnc laser cutting
The result is the same, awesome handouts… I will be making a slight modification to this design next time around, I forgot to add the logo on them! People getting these will think, wow, that’s awesome… who made it? Now let’s complicate things a bit more, slender pieces of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, these are the side panels, so far more narrow and the more narrow the pieces, the more they love to fly up when being engraved or cut due to our high velocity extraction system and compressor.
cardboard cnc laser cutting
These 304 SS metal business cards do the trick nicely, holding everything down. They have a good weight to them and are flat, so they won’t bang-up against the overhead gantry.
cardboard cnc laser cutting
Much like the previous engravings and cuttings of cardboard, this is done with zero defects or alignment issues. Why? Because we have the best CNC laser engraver on the market, an Austrian Trotec Speedy 400 flexx. In this case, we are using our CO2 laser source but it can just as easily have been stainless steel blanks or anodized aluminum, in which case, we’d use our fiber laser source. Both are in the same machine! cardboard cnc laser cutting
Watch the video of this being engraved and cut too!
CNC Laser Engraving and Cutting Cardboard Extravaganza –

Next on the list is a piece of cardboard from a recent order of acrylic we had delivered to our shop. All these cardboard pieces were cut with a box cutter to be flat by the way… it’s quicker than using a laser and even if things aren’t straight, we know how to make the most out of every sheet so very little ends-up in the recycle box. laser cutting cardboard Engraving is the first process, this makes sure each cardboard sample is perfect, if we cut it first, they may shift by a mm or two and the result would be alignment issues as the air going around in the machine would move them around. laser cutting cardboard That’s why we engrave first, laser cut the stencil second and then cut them out of the cardboard in the final step. laser cutting cardboard As you can see, each is completely identical to the other. They are all straight and the laser easily goes through all of them. laser cutting cardboard still used hold down metal business cards, when you have a large flat piece like this, it isn’t really needed but there is never any harm from doing more than needed to prevent problems down the line. laser cutting cardboard The reason for the gap in the middle is due to a defect in the cardboard, we don’t want that on our cardboard stencil promos so we just cut above and below them. How’s that for being efficient! Next on the docket are the sides of the box that held our acrylic sheets, these were all cut smaller by the way on purpose. The box cutter isn’t very good at cutting straight lines, that’s why we have a CNC laser! laser cutting cardboard The metal business cards are put across and at the ends to prevent bowing, not much of an issue as the heat just doesn’t stay with cardboard but sometimes with materials such as thin acrylic or metal when it’s being fiber annealed, the heat distorts the material. After annealing one of our 304 stainless steel business cards, I’m sure you don’t want to stick it in your pocket before it had time to cool! laser cutting cardboard The layout of these cardboard promo pieces was optimized manually, there are automated nesting programs that we have but for something this easy, it isn’t needed at all. laser cutting cardboard How many times of we cleaned our lens since starting this big production run? Zero. Why? Because we have fantastic extraction of the cardboard smoke and the air compressor is also keeping vapors away from the lens. laser cutting cardboard Watch the video of this cardboard being CNC laser engraved and cut too! Next step is something a bit more challenging. We got an odd-shaped box that we want to cut into stencils that’s a bunch of different dimensions depending on where you are on it. I want to get as much cut out of it with as little source material left after. laser cutting cardboard Not a problem, we’ve done things far more complex than this in the past, it’s just a matter of taking your time with measurements and optimizing the results across the board. It may be hard to see, but to complicate things, there are “folding lines” on this as well… we don’t want this on our cardboard promo pieces so we got to go around them. laser cutting cardboard One of the challenges with a CNC laser is that all the work is permanent, meaning if I was “off” by a cm or an inch in either way in my calculations and design, I would have scrapped a lot of material here. This is where practice makes perfect, to lessen the possibility that this may happen when it REALLY COUNTS! laser cutting cardboard Our Austrian CNC laser cuts out the stencil in the order of “making”, so if I made the stencil in the top left first then the next in the bottom right, the laser will move from top left to bottom right even if there are lots of stencils in-between. laser cutting cardboard Regardless, the process is the same, engraving and then cutting. laser cutting cardboard has a wide variety of lenses to fit any type of clearance requirements on our projects, in this case, we just used our flexx lens, which is pretty much our default for CO2 projects involving cutting or engraving across a wide variety of materials. CNC Laser Engraving and Cutting Cardboard Extravaganza –

laser cutting cardboard

This took a bit more set-up than the previous cardboard boxes but the results are the same, awesome cardboard promotional stencils!

laser cutting cardboard

Let’s see how well this cut out? Lifting the scrap cardboard is easily done and then all you see are the custom promotional cardboard stencils.

laser cutting cardboard

Taking a look at the scrap, you can see I really couldn’t have optimized things better. What wasn’t cut through had folding lines and cuts.

laser cutting cardboard

Watch the video of this one as well.


Laser art and books

As you are already aware, laser machines have limitless artistic capabilities and Robin Hanhart is proving it to us again. This brilliant Swiss illustrator and designer is combining traditional skills such as drawing, painting and book binding with modern techniques like laser cutting, digital painting and motion graphics to produce the artwork.

Cutting Books

around-the-world-in-80-days-ship around-the-world-in-80-days-london-detail-1around-the-world-in-80-days-book-detail  time-book-overview-6 time-book-overview-7 lasercut-book-sun-detail-cutlasercut-book-sun-detail-text lasercut-book-sun-layers


lasercut-book-bird-spread lasercut-book-bird-cage lasercut-book-bird-layers

LOX – collection of interior lamps.

The inner structure is laser cut from birchwood and can be assembled without the use of screws. The outer lamp shade is laser etched.



The machine used is Trotec Speedy 300, 60W.

You can find more of Robin’s work here:

CNC Laser Yoda on Sacrificial CNC Router Board

In this video, one of our Canadian registered businesses designs and laser cuts Yoda (!!!)  on sacrificial CNC Router board using their Trotec Speedy 400 flexx laser.

This is a great case study for recycling material to generate additional ROI for your business. Each and every business throws out A LOT of actually quite useful stuff… from manufacturing widgets that don’t meet spec to mill-working scraps of all kinds. is a professional custom CNC shop based in Canada with clients worldwide that can engrave, etch, mark, anneal and cut any material for any application in addition to custom design / build solutions.