Engraving jewelry adds more value in terms of both price and satisfaction.
I mean, more than 90% of us would love to pay an additional $20 if the jewelry seller can laser mark a ring or pendant with whatever you wish.
In this article, we will discuss the jewelry laser engraving basics, challenges, and other important areas.
There will be a recommendation for a laser engraving machine as well.
So, let’s begin!
How does a laser machine engrave jewelry?
Laser engraving is a simple process where the laser machine marks or engraves the given pattern, text, or picture into the material by utilizing its laser power.
The laser source can be different based on the type of machine. Usually, there are four types of laser which are CO2, diode, Infra-red, and fiber laser.
Metal jewelry engraving can only be done using an infrared (IR) laser or a fiber laser. As a reference, xTool F1 is an IR laser capable of jewelry engraving (within budget range), whereas the OMTech fiber lasers are useful for engraving bulk volume of jewelry that becomes much more suitable for professional laser crafters.
In a nutshell, the laser beam burns or vapourizes a particular portion of the jewelry which later becomes a professional etching.
You might ask – how does the laser machine decide the area of engraving?
Well, every laser engraver is computer-operated and the laser control software instructs them as per the settings.
There are a few laser engravers that have cameras or preview screen that helps to see a dummy version of the engraving to ensure the design position. We have already seen that the LaserPecker 4 is popular due to having jewelry engraving flexibility and faster preview speed.
Below is a gold engraving done with the Laserpecker 4:
However, there are some laser machines that do not usually come with camera-based positioning. For instance, the xTool S1 is a professional jewelry marker but does not have any camera-based position. To solve the confusion, there are small red color dots that help you to measure the material positioning accuracy manually.
Here’s another gold engraving done with the F1:
Both of the above engravings took less than 5 minutes as both the F1 & Laserpecker 4 offers high engraving speed of 2000 and 1200 mm/s respectively.
When it comes to accuracy, both lasers brought the tiniest details. SO, no questions about that!
Advantages of jewelry laser engraving (why not manual etching?)
Jewelries are usually made of metal which is possible to etch manually. However, a laser engraving machine offers significant advantages for which the need of manual etching has already vanished.
Below are a few examples of advantages:
Laser engraving is fast
Since the laser machine is operated as per the CNC or computer command, these are immensely fast. For instance, the F1 engraves at 600 mm per second whcih boosts the engravers’ efficiency with better accuracy and saves a lot of time.
Similarly, manual etching would require you to perform the same tasks for each of the items but a laser engraver comes with batch processing ability.
We took only 1 minute to engrave this ring using a fiber laser engraver.
Obviously, the laser engravers are accurate. For instance, the Atomstack M4 offers 0.01 mm precision which defines that the most tiniest dots or patterns will be highly visible in a small pendant or a ring.
This powerful accuracy eventually helps the crafters to uphold the value of what he is selling as well as brings higher satisfaction into the customers’ mind.
Here is an example of engraving accuracy. Any laser engraver having a precision rate of 0.001 can offer you such engravings.
Below ring is engraved using the xTool S1’s Ir laser module!
Owning a laser engraver would not only help you wiht jwery engraving but also brings possibilites of further customization.
For example, you can add further designs with a previously engraved pendant or ring, without any single hasitation. Any additional work would even look like natural due to computer based controlling and accuracy.
Normally, laser engravings on jwelries do not go away unless destroyed manually. So, from the customers’ point of keeping memories, laser negraved jewelries are the besy options.
It not only positively motivates customers but also allows you to earn more.
What types of lasers are suitable for jewelry?
If we consider the basics, diode lasers are often cheap and are capable of engraving jewelry. However, diode lasers cannot engrave gold and platinum-made jewelry due to their incapabilities of generating laser power at a required wavelength of 1064 nm.
Since diode lasers generate a laser beam of 450 nm wavelength, these can only help you engraving acrylic, wood, plastics and normal types of material.
If you are trying a diode laser to engrave or etch on a steel piece, make sure to coat the surface using temporary paint due to the fact that polished steel hits the laser back to the machine which might create accidents.
But, would you try something which is a combination of both diode and IR laser?
ofcourse you will since everyone else is loving.
The xTool S1 is a combination of both diode and IR laser which offers you the flexibility of engraving almost anything in this world.
Also, it contains protective shield which eliminates the need to wear protectiv eeye glasses during the engraving works.
Apart from this, we always recommend trying the handheld laser engravers for jwelry engraving that typically comes with smaller work area but immence capacity to engrave gold, silver and platinum.
Notably, the LaserPecker 4 does not even want you to bring the material ratehr it allows you to place the machine itself over the items. It also rotaes the laser head by 360 degrees which offers maximum flexibilities of ornaments engraving.
However, if you are a large jewery retailer and aiming to escalate engraving business through large volume of ornaments engraving service, Try having a fiber laser or MOPA color laser engraver whcih will support your bulk quantity as well as bring the flexibility to engrave ornaments using differant colors.
Challanges of jewlry laser engraving
Besides a lot positive aspects, laser engraving jewelry naturally have some challanges as well.
- You need to know the engraving settings properly. Usually, engravers come with metal engraving presets but depending on its shape, age and engraving design you may need to modify the settings. Normally, in Lightburn (the control software) there are few options including laser power, speed, DPI, line interval and pass count. Make sure that the laser power is optimum and the resolution is set max if you want to visualize tinest patterns on the ornaments. In need, try opinions from online forum or from the community of the laser machine that you are going to use.
- Positioning the material can also be a challenge. Typically the laser engravers come with a honeycomb bed or stainless steel work bed so that you can place the ornaments steadily. However, engravers like P2 come with slat bed and there are gaps between slates which may not be suitable for you to keep small ornaments.
- Not having air assist would be another challenge. Normally, air assist uses air to remove the dust from the engraving place and provides oxygen to the laser head. If the ornaments contain a post-coated color, having an inappropriate air pressure could affect the engraving result negatively.
- You might face an accuracy error if the design is not properly imported or set in the Lightburn. We always recommend prior study before initiating the actual job.
Jewelry laser engraving steps
Follow these steps for best ornamnets engraving result
- Import the engraving pattern to the laser control software. That can be Lightburn or the laser manufacturer’s developed software.
- Properly position the jewelry on the work bed (make sure designs are properly aligned)
- Double-check if the engraving settings are accurate.
- After the engraving is done, do not immediately touch the material. Wait before you post the process.
- At the post-processing stage, polish and clean the ornaments for a better appearance.
Which laser is best for jewelry engraving?
Below are the top laser engravers for jewelry:
- LaserPecker 4 (Best overall)
- xTool F1
- xTool S1 fully enclosed engraver
- OMTech FM6969 fiber laser
We recommended the LaserPecker 4 as the best of all due to its speed, flexibility, jewelry engraving accuracy, and upgradability. Undoubtedly the LaserPecker can engrave jewelry at the best accuracy and the F1 is its only competitor. Both the F1 and the LaserPecker 4 are handheld laser engravers that typically have smaller work areas compared to the S1 and OMTech fiber lasers.
The S1 can be your ornament engraver along with larger material compatibility because it is equipped with two separate laser modules (40W diode & 2W IR). So, The fully enclosed S1 will not only etch jewelry but also offer flexibility to work on jewelry boxes and other materials such as leather patches, fabric, wood, and acrylic.
Last but not least, fiber laser is the most professional one especially if you want laser marks on gold, silver, platinum, and other metallic materials. OMTech’s FM 6969 is a 3oW fiber laser that can be a value-added machine for you if you can consider jewelry engraving in a larger quantity.
Below is a comparison of the top jewelry laser engravers:
Jewelry laser engraver comparison
|LaserPecker 4||xTool F1||xTool S1||OMTech FM 6969|
|Laser Power||10W diode + 2W IR||10W diode + 2W IR||40W diode + 2W IR||30W Fiber laser|
|Engraving Speed||1200 MM/s||2000 MM/s||600 MM/s||7000 MM/s|
|Work Area||160 x 120 mm (Expandable)||100 x 100 mm (Expandable)||498 x 319 mm||175 x 175 mm|
|Laser Switching (diode to IR)||Auto||Auto||Manual||N/A|
To be very honest, fiber laser offers the maximum accuracy compared to portable laser machines due to the fact that the fiber lasers are specially designed for metal marking. However, not everyone can afford fiber lasers and they become a non-value-adding laser machine to many people because of less material compatibility.
The fiber laser from OMTEch (FM 6969) ensures a maximum engraving depth of 0.05 mm having a beam diameter of 7±0.5 mm.
If your engraving tasks are not huge compared to the jewelry manufacturer, anyone between the F1, Laserpecker and S1 would serve the purpose of jewelry engraving. These three engravers also engrave at a precision of 0.001 which means that they become a fiber laser aletrnatives to some cases.
Fiber lasers last for around 100,000 active operating hours and in comparison, other lasers last approximately 20,000 to 25,000 active operating hours. Considering the initial costs and regular cash returns, 20,000 hours of operation can ensure the payback of the initial investment even within less than a year.
Frequently asked questions
These are some frequently asked questions you may find useful:
Can a CO2 laser engrave gold?
No, a CO2 laser cannot engrave gold because it cannot produce a laser beam at the required wavelength. Gold engraving would require a laser wavelength of 1064 nm whereas a CO2 laser creates way higher laser power than the fiber lasers. Also, gold engraving requires controlled pulse frequency which cannot be delivered by the CO2 lasers.
Can you make jewelry with a laser cutter?
Yes, you can make jewelry using a laser cutter. A laser cutter will provide a more precise and accurate cut compared to other traditional cutting mechanisms. However, using a diode and CO2 laser you cannot cut metal (gold, platinum) jewelry which requires powerful fiber lasers.
Can I laser engrave silver?
Any laser engraver having the capacity to generate a 1064 nm wavelength will engrave silver. In that case, IR lasers such as xTool F1 or LasperPecker 4) or professional fiber lasers will be the perfect choice for engraving silver.
What is the best laser cutter for gold?
Fiber lasers are the only choice to engrave gold. Usually, you would need any fiber laser power ranging between 300 to 1500W for gold and silver cutting. With the diode and IR lasers, you can only engrave gold jewelry.
Can a laser beam cut a diamond?
Technically laser beams can cut diamonds but it requires specialized skills otherwise you will end up with a shattered diamond. We do not recommend using lasers to cut or engrave diamonds as DIY enthusiasts.
Engraving jewelry with a laser engraver is the best choice and still, this idea is a trending business game changer. We recommend you understand the significance of laser engraving and choose your machine wisely.