Comments Off on The importance of masking your laser items
At the Workshop, we do a significant number of items, and every time we do something without proper masking, we hate that we cut the corner. There are many reasons why it is a good idea to mask all of your laser cut items, and this article will explain why.
When engraving a piece of material the action from the laser cutting beam “burns” the material in a fraction of a second and the material you are cutting has to go someplace. To protect the laser lens from debris and to aid in the cutting or to engrave the air assist will immediately blow all of that material and subsequent smoke right back onto the material and this makes it onto the surface being etched as well as the bare material you want to remain unchanged.
To give you an example we have taken a symmetrical design, such as this playing card, masked half of it and left the other side unmasked. After looking at the direct output of this card, you can see that the unmasked side has a hue of debris covering the entire design. There are some things you can do to clean this up, however, masking saves the time and as you will see in our end product some actual detail and color.
This second photo is of the playing card after the masking has been removed, you can see that on the masked side there is no smoke residue or discoloration to the image, at this point you could add a finish, color, or light sanding and be done with the product, however, if left unmasked there would need to be additional cleaning, with solutions, such as denatured alcohol and sanding to get the product to look similar to that of the masked side.
Finally, though the playing card was masked only on one side, you can do quite a bit with the use of alcohol to get the game card to come out decent. The entire card was cleaned using alcohol, and the card was in fact, dirty and stained the entire surface slightly due to the residue from the unmasked side. You can make out on the left side, that the masked side of the card is slightly darker as well, this is caused by the residue and smoke being forced back into the areas that were engraved, which is helpful since these areas were intended to be darkened by our engraving anyhow.
We highly suggest that when using our laser cutting services, you opt for the additional masking to be done, in the long run, you will end up with a better product, with less work to finish your item. If you have any additional questions about the masking process, please don’t hesitate to contact us.