There are many common questions that arise when someone is just starting out in the engraving business or learning to engrave on a new material. Below are a few of the most common engraving issues, and solutions to these problems.
Question 1. “Why is the engraving on my item slanted?”
There are a few things that could be causing your engraving to come out slanted on your item. First, check your material for squareness. If your piece is not cut with right angles it may not be aligning to the table correctly. Next, check to see that the material is aligned properly against the edge guided. If your material is aligned to the guides properly, make sure it is not moving during the engraving process, you may want to try using multi mat or hold fixture to securely hold your material.
Always inspect the job before removing it from the table. You may be able to salvage it, or you may be able to analyze the problem to avoid repeating it.
Question 2. “Why do I get ‘shadowing’ when I engrave certain materials?”
There are a few things to try if you get a ‘shadowing’ effect while engraving. If your material came with a protective film cover, leave it on while engraving. This will keep the nosecone from scratching the material. You can also try switching from a metal nosecone to a plastic nosecone which is less likely to leave marks on the material.
Ensure your nosecone is not damaged. Any burrs or roughness can cause it to scratch the material. If your nosecone appears to be damaged, try using an emery cloth to polish it, or replace it with a new one.
Try reducing the spindle spring pressure on your machine. Excessive down pressure will leave a rub mark on almost any plastic material.
Question 3. “Why are there ‘tails’ and ‘swirls’ in the corners of my engraving?”
If you are getting swirls in the corners of your engraving your cutter speed may be too fast in relation to your XY speed. Slow your spindle speed down, or increase your table speed.
Using a worn or damaged cutter may also cause tails or swirls in your engraving. You can have it re-sharpened or replace it.
Question 4. “Why is my text engraving poorly?”
Your letter quality may be poor if you are using too fast of an engraving speed. Try slowing down your engraving and spindle speeds to improve letter quality.
If you are using diamond drag engraving, your down pressure may be set too high. Reduce the pressure and the engraving quality should improve.
Also be sure that your cutter is not dull or damaged, and your material is secured firmly to the table. If your material moves during the engraving process the letters can become warped and distorted.
Universal Laser System Interface – BEST IN INDUSTRY
The Universal Control Panel (UCP) and the Laser System Manager (LSM) are user interfaces that control ULS laser systems. Both user interfaces are configured intuitively, enabling all users to produce expert quality results. Both include a Printer Driver and Direct Import Feature for uploading graphic designs. They also provide an Intelligent Materials Database that calculates optimized settings for laser processing on hundreds of materials. The Intelligent Materials Database also allows for manual override control for adjusting laser material processing settings. Both the Universal Control Panel (UCP) and the Laser System Manager (LSM) also provide a Duplicate feature for creating multiple instances of a design file and an Estimator feature that provides accurate calculation of processing times for every laser material processing job. Benefits provided by both interfaces include the following:
Ease of Use
Laser Material Processing Flexibility
Laser Material Processing Quality
How the Universal Control Panel (UCP) and the Laser System Manager (LSM) Work
Universal Laser Systems provides two user interfaces. The UCP supports the VLS, PLS and ILS platforms. The LSM supports the XLS platform. Both interfaces allow users to execute laser processing operations with three easy steps:
Print or Direct Import the design file.
Select the material from the materials database and enter thickness.
In addition to this streamlined work flow, the UCP and LSM provide many powerful features that greatly enhance productivity, ROI, flexibility and quality. The LSM provides additional features such as segment reduction, line simplification and smoothing, kerf compensation, and drill and pierce modes.
Ease of Use
The user interfaces are designed to be intuitive and easy to use. Running laser processes with these interfaces is as easy as 1-2-3. The user first uploads or prints the design file. Virtually any design file format can be used. The next step is to select the material from the Materials Database and enter a thickness. The database automatically calculates the optimized laser settings. The final step is to press “Start” to begin laser processing.
Design files in PDF and DXF formats can be directly imported into the UCP and LSM. The LSM has the additional ability to accept STL and G-code formats. The Direct Import feature has the advantage of preserving the integrity of the original design file, unlike competitive laser systems that rely on printer drivers only.
Intelligent Materials Database
The Intelligent Materials Database can calculate optimized laser settings for hundreds of materials. This eliminates the need for users to develop settings through trial and error, saving substantial time and materials. The materials database window makes it easy for users to select the proper material. The optimum settings are then calculated automatically enabling the user to achieve professional quality laser material processing results.
Any design file can easily be duplicated to fill the entire laser processing field (as shown in the images below). The user simply uploads the graphic and then selects the Duplicate feature. The user can either choose to create a certain number of duplicates or fill the entire processing field with as many duplicates that will fit. This is ideal for maximizing manufacturing efficiency.
The Estimate feature allows users to compare processing throughputs with various laser system configurations. Estimates can be run with different platforms, different laser powers, and different throughput enhancing options (such as SuperSpeedTM) to determine what configuration will deliver the best throughput for a particular laser processing operation. This helps customers to optimize their return on investment (ROI).
Storage and Organization
All laser processing settings needed to execute a particular laser process are stored and organized so that they can be recalled easily for future use. The user interface can store 2,000 different files. Files can also be exported in a proprietary EMF format for use on other ULS laser cutting, engraving, and marking machines.
Laser Material Processing Flexibility
The Manual Controls feature allows users to enter laser settings for specific materials and applications. Every laser processing parameter can be controlled individually using the manual controls, providing unlimited processing flexibility.
Laser Material Processing Quality
The Camera Registration option, enabled by the user interfaces, automates the alignment of vector paths and raster strokes with the material for the purpose of tightening process control. It automatically aligns design files with pre-printed graphic designs on the material to compensate for misalignment or stretching of the material. This ensures high laser processing accuracy.
Laser Maintenance Tips: Extend the Life of Your Laser
If you have been in the laser engraving business for a few years, you have probably discovered just how important the operation of your laser truly is. With a laser you can produce tens of thousands of profitable work each year. You probably have also discovered that your laser can go down at any time. Given the importance of lasers today, even in the smallest of shops, the best protection against a costly laser outage is to understand your laser, plan for it, and properly maintain the functioning of your laser. While there are a number of variables that affect the service life of a laser engraver, below are some service and cleaning tips to follow to help keep your laser running smoothly.
Belts and Bearings
In most cases the main thing two that needs replacing every 2-3 years would be the belts and bearings.
Be sure to clean all axis rails frequently, doing this will cause less wear and could even give you more than 2-3 years.
X-axis Belt (2-3 yrs depending on use).
X-bearings (replace same time as X-axis belt.)
Y axis (5-6 years this belt gets little wear since it doesn’t move as fast as the X-axis belt).
Y-bearings (replace same time as X-axis belt.)
Optics are replaced only if after a visual inspection. Signs of wear include:
Cracks/scratches in the lens or mirrors
Lens- (if you see a bluish circle/ring in the middle)
*Normal lenses are a gold/yellow color.
Mirrors- (Pale pink color in the center of mirror)
*Normal color is Red.
Laser cartridges last anywhere from 4-6 years.
*Usually a damaged optic can simulate a faulty laser cartridge, check your optics before thinking it could be your laser cartridge.
Signs your laser cartridge needs replacing.
Loss of power (cutting/vectoring quality is poor/loss)
Image quality poor (banding/skipping when rastering)
We will also test the laser tube for free! Call us to schedule a time that you can bring in the laser cartridge.
-Noe, Engravers Network In-house Service Technician
Tips & Tricks: How to Make Font Folders for Vision Software
Sometimes it’s helpful to have a folder that has only the fonts you use. This is how to do that:
Open the Vision software and click on Text Tools, then click on Frame Text Compose.
Click on the Font Detective, then Options, then Add Group.
For this example we used Trophy Fonts for the name, but you can name the folder what you need it to be. If you are just putting a few fonts in the folder, it’s easier to check “which is initially empty” and click OK.
Make sure the new folder is showing in the window, click Options again, then Edit Group.
From here, the desired fonts for the new folder can be picked. Choose the folder that has the fonts you want and just add desired fonts to the new folder. When you’re done, just click OK, then Select.
The new Font folder will be in your list with the new fonts ready to use.
The latest version of Color Byte V10 is now available.
Version 10.0.1 provides minor updates to the Color Byte RIP and is a requirement when operating any 1800z series printers.
There is no cost to update to the latest rev of the software. In fact, users DO NOT need to uninstall the current the package to do so. To update, simply download the .zip file below and follow the PDF instructions HERE.
1-Touch Laser Photo™ is an innovative product for converting digital photographs (BMP, JPEG, PNG or TIFF formats) into bitmap files that can be used to indelibly mark or engrave the image into materials such as hard wood, stone or metal to create high value products. This transforms an ordinary photograph into a professional quality engraving. Prior to 1-Touch this was possible only by experimenting with halftone screens, dithering patterns, and laser settings – an expensive and time consuming methodology. 1-Touch automates this process and provides these benefits:
Optimize Return on Investment
1-Touch Laser Photo automatically converts digital photographs to optimized bitmaps, saving both time and materials.
High Quality Results
Image processing software developed by the experts at ULS delivers professional quality laser marking and engraving results every time.
Broadest Range of Material Compatibility
Photographs can be laser marked or laser engraved onto hundreds of materials using the optimized process setting calculated by the ULS Intelligent Materials Database.
Regular Software Updates
New materials are added to 1-Touch Laser Photo every quarter.
Intuitive User Interface
All that’s needed are three easy steps to transform a digital photograph to a professional-quality engraving.
Stand Alone Software
1-Touch Laser Photo is compatible with all brands of laser systems.
Vision Tips & Tricks: Common Shortcut/Hot Keys in the Vision Software
Shortcuts or Hot Keys are key combinations on the keyboard that when pressed perform certain functions in the software. For instance, pressing the control button and the “A” button at the same time will perform the “Select All” function selecting everything on the workspace. This is commonly written in shorthand as CTRL+A. Shortcuts make navigating through the Vision software faster. Below is a list of commonly used shortcuts in the Vision software.
If you search through the Vision software help files you will find a thorough list of shortcuts, hot keys and function keys.