Awards & Engraving

February '18

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16 • A&E FEBRUARY 2018 By Jim Puentes YOUR LASER AT WORK Raster work uses drawings that are color-filled. These drawings cue the laser to operate like a printer, moving up or down line by line and firing back and forth along those lines. Power, speed, and resolution are set by the operator, with the power being variable based on the color value of the fill. Raster work is basically burning dots in a grid pattern. The intent is to engrave or mark the material you are working with. Vector work (not to be confused with vector artwork) uses drawings made up of thin lines (hairlines) that cue the laser to fire along the path of the line. It is also burning dots, not in a grid pattern, but along a line of travel. Power, speed, and frequency of firing are set by the operator. Here, the intent is to cut the material you have in the work area. And so: Raster = engraving/marking; Vector = cutting. Before we go on, please heed this warning: Always use your laser in a safe manner, following your manufacturer's rec- ommendations. Be aware that there may be some risk associated with using your laser in an unconventional manner. There is yet another way to use the power of the CO 2 laser in an unconven- tional way. Vector work can also be used for engraving and marking. So why bother? Why not just use the CO 2 laser in a con- ventional way and use a raster job to mark your material? There are several advantages to making the switch to vector engraving. • A simple application, one that many of you may already do, can enhance the appearance of regular raster work on rough materials in a relatively short time. I f you've read my previous articles, you may have guessed that I'm always trying to use my conventional CO 2 laser in unconventional ways. One of the basic tenets for operating a CO 2 laser is that raster work is for engraving and marking, while vector work is for cutting. Marking and Engraving Using Vector Cuts Vector-marked stainless-steel flatware. ALL IMAGES COURTESY JIM PUENTES

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