The demand for laser-engraved slate has always been in demand due to usability and beautification.
We all have seen branded coasters in restaurants, didn’t we?
And engraved slates will be popular for next 100 years.
Laser engraving slate coasters is still a sustainable business idea that brings more than 400% profit. Imagine that you bought normal slate plates at $1.2 per unit and after engraving they tagged with a price of $8 to $10.
We saw a laser engraving business make a $200 profit just by etching a large-sized slate for a garden owner.
In this article, we will discuss every aspect of slate coaster engraving starting from the basics of slate etching to technical suggestions.
The usability of the engraved slates is vast. From a glass coaster to garden stone, or even a nameplate can be designed using the slate which becomes more appealing if properly engraved with a laser machine.
Earlier, we saw manual etching on slate plates which is not as valuable as laser engraving due to the clarity, resolution, and precision.
On the other side, the unavailability of the right laser engraver or the proper tools might disrupt the slate engraving significantly. For instance, not having the right airflow will accommodate the slate debris and disrupt the laser head causing less clarity. Additionally, not understanding the software settings may also result in poor engraving which needs your careful consideration of knowledge and skills.
Considerable Decision Factors
Before you decide to buy a laser engraver for slate, you need to know a few basics and critical factors. From the price, usability, and compatibility; there are so many other factors that effectively influence your future earnings from a slate engraver.
Below is a list of such factors that you should always look into before buying a slate laser engraver.
We respect your budget but, your first priority should be the return that you are aiming for. For instance, you might have a laser engraver that effectively engraves slate. After a year, you have seen that if you could spend $1000 extra on the upgradability, it would generate $5000 extra per month.
To illustrate, we can refer you to the xTool P2 and OMTech Polar. Both laser engravers are priced at around $3000 (varies depending on accessories).
Well, that was an example. Let’s look at the price of recommended laser engravers and what are their specialties.
Price & Specialties of the top slate engravers
|xTool P2||+- $5000||Fast Engraving, Better Clarity, Curved Engraving, Large Material Feeder|
|xTool S1||+- $2500||Fully Enclosed, Class 1 Safety Certified, Fast Engraving & Curved Engraving|
|OMTech Polar||+- $3000||Large Work Area, Long service Life, Competitive Price|
|Gweike Cloud Pro||+- $3000||Fast Engraving, Pullout Drawer, larger material compatibility|
|Atezr V35 Pro||+- $800||Open Frame diode laser, smooth gantry, powerful laser|
From the above table, you now know that investing in P2 is a much-worthy decision rather than investing in others. If you have budget constraints, you can definitely buy the cheapest one (Atezr V35 Pro), but we will still stick with the xTool S1 as it offers exactly the same flexibility as other CO2 manufacturers’ offerings.
Power & Speed
Engraving power and speed are two obvious factors that affect your regular business. We will suggest that – in slate engraving, you should never focus on speed rather than power as enthusiasts never use the maximum power while engraving slate, granite, and other tough materials.
Below is a comparison of our recommended laser engravers from aspects of laser power and speed.
Power & Speed comparison
|Laser Power||Engraving Speed (mm/s)|
|xTool P2||55W CO2||600 mm/s|
|xTool S1||40W Diode + 2W IR (for metal engraving)||600 mm/s|
|OMTech Polar||50W CO2||550 mm/s|
|Gweike Cloud Pro||50W CO2||500 mm/s|
|Atezr V35 Plus||35W Diode||400 mm/s|
Both P2 & S1 stand out in terms of speed and power in two separate categories (Diode & CO2). Even though rests offer engraving speed of close to the top two – we recommended p2 & S1 for two main reasons.
First, P2 allows you to do curved engraving and there are a lot more advanced upgradability options that the Polar & Gweike lack.
Second, The S1 gives you the freedom of metal & plastic engraving through its 2W IR laser (1064 nm wavelength) that no other is offering at their price.
The Engraving work area is another crucial factor before deciding which one should you buy. It’s true that engraving small slate coasters would not make you bothered about the work area but, batch processing & ability to engrave larger material can be the option you should consider now.
Below is a comparison of the laser engravers from the perspective of the work area.
Work Area Comparison
|Normal Work Area||Dimension after expansion||Supports automatic material conveyor?|
|xTool P2||26 x 14 inches||You can make it 2 inches tall by installing riser base & feed unlimited length of material through roller conveyor||Yes|
|xTool S1||19.6 × 12.5 inches||You can make it 2 inches tall by installing riser base & feed unlimited length of material through roller conveyor||Yes|
|OMTech Polar||20.1 x 11.8 inches||Not expandable but allows pass-through (7 mm) height||No|
|Gweike Cloud Pro||20.1 x 11.8 inches||Not expandable but allows pass-through (7 mm) height||No|
|Atezr V35 Plus||20 x 20 inches||Not expandable||No|
Artificial intelligence makes your earnings bigger by saving you time. We tested each of the laser engravers that we are recommending and found only two having heavy AI-based features.
Omtech Polar, Gweike & Atezr seems to be delivering the best within the threshold but, P2 & F1 by xTool has something for you.
First, The P2 allows intelligent batch processing like no one. This means, you should not worry about placing 50 design over the 60 materials manually. You just keep than randomely.
The s1 has something else. For the design variety and diverse material compatibility, you can use their IR laser module which indirectly works like a fiber laser engraver.
While slate engraving – we often feel nervous regarding the curved and uneven surface since the laser keeps firing at a constant pace.
in S1 – the laser module automatically measures the surface which then helps later by adjusting the z-axes height.
This is amazing!
Top laser engravers for slate coasters & nameplates
Choosing the right laser engraver for slate is crucial. There are so many factors to consider such as laser type, wavelength, precision, work bed, resolution, autofocus, and machine upgradability. Lack on one side can adversely affect your laser engraving business which you should strictly avoid.
To summarize – Below are the top laser engravers for slate:
- xTool P2 (Best in CO2 Catagory)
- xTool S1 (Best in Diode Catagory)
- OMTech Polar
- Gweike Cloud Pro
- Atezr V35 Plus
We practically used all of the above-mentioned laser machines and tried state engraving with them all. In our opinion, the xTool P2 stands out among all due to its build quality, superior laser power, and options such as curved engraving and expandability. Since the P2 is the king of the mid-sized CO2 lasers, we found the xTool’s S1 40W as another best engraver for slate. Surprisingly, the S1 offers almost everything offered by the P2. Additionally, the S1 performs even better than others in terms of focus adjustment and z-axe height adjustments.
Furthermore, the OMtech polar can also be a suitable slate engraver which delivers slightly lower power than the P2 but with a larger work bed. In comparison, the Polar only lacks in curved engraving ability but besides that, it delivers stunning slate engravings on slate. Engraving speed is not a matter of concern here because no one can utilize the max speed especially while engraving slates. As slate needs more time and higher power in etching often it may take multiple passes for the best results.
Gweike Cloud Pro is a budget killer that offers the same engraving speed as P2 with its laser capacity of 50W. The Gweike mainly attracts small and medium-sized laser engraving business owners who need multiple machines to support daily work volumes. Except for the inability to work on curved surfaces, Gweike is another beast that has the ability to engrave just anything except steel. Besides, Atezr V35 Plus is a 35W DIY diode laser engraver that alternatively can be treated as an uncanopied xTool S1 without the curved engraving feature.
Comparison of Top 3 Slate Engravers
|xTool P2||xTool S1||OMTech Polar|
|Laser Power||55W CO2||40W / 20W diode + 2W IR||50W CO2|
|Precision||0.01 mm||0.08 mm||0.01 mm|
|Max Engraving Speed||600 mm/s||600 mm/s||500 mm/s|
|Curved engraving ability||Yes||Yes||No|
|Bed size||26 x 14 inches||30 x 23 x 7 inches||38.2 x 22.3 x 9.2 inches|
xTool P2 Overview, Pros & Cons
The xtool p2 is a 55w co2 laser machine with an engraving speed of 600 mm/s. Not only that, P2 is the first-ever engraver that offers intelligent batch processing which means that you can place as many slate coasters as you can without worrying about the right shape placement. All you need to place the engraving design in any of the slates and the intelligent system will automatically detect the position and shape of the other slate pieces.
Engraving speed and laser power play vital roles when it the slate and granite engraving comes into consideration. As the P2 empowers with 55W CO2 laser, it etches the slate coasters effectively using its maximum ability and precision of 0.001 mm. We saw that the P2 users take comparably less time in engraving slate compared to other laser machines,s especially the low-end diode laser machines.
The ability to engrave in curved and uneven surfaces gives the P2 a strong zone as the slates are not smooth and even. So, adjusting laser focus in uneven surfaces is done easily in P2 which helps in creating vibrant and high-resolution engravings. Alternatively, a laser without curved engraving ability like Glowforge Pro loses its said precision as its laser beam cannot get aligned with the height between the laser source and material.
We have a detailed review of the xTool P2 here, which contains trials, real tests and critical evaluation.
Slate engraving with P2
Below are the 4 slate engravings we did using the xTool P2
While engraving slates, the first thing we noticed impressive is its power. The laser is designed innovatively and there is no possibility of the laser head getting clogged with dust. The laser tube in P2 is placed at the rear side of the machine which throws the beam through a reflection mechanism. It helps significantly if you compare the usability from the viewpoint and worry about the dust covering the laser head.
To illustrate this fact, let’s have a look at the below comparison:
This picture shows both Glowforge and Gweike’s laser beam position. Both of the manufacturers placed the laser at the top of the gantry which affected the usability from two perspectives. First, users find it difficult to observe the processing. Secondly, the laser beam often gets clogged or covered with dusts as they are not always thrown away by the air assist.
The picture below shows the laser position of xTool P2 which eliminates the risk of dusts covering the laser head.
Furthermore, The P2 is literally the only choice for engraving large pieces of slate material due to having the flexibility to connect with the motorized pass-through.
With the motorized conveyor, you can feed the laser machine with an unlimited length of material without worrying.
Here’s another large slate engraving work we did with the P2:
Also, the default settings in P2 for the ‘Coaster’ works just perfectly. I mean, no one needs to modify anything while slate engraving.
However, users are suggested to coat the material with a clear coat first, If you use the rock coaster preset that’s absolutely fine. But, make sure to clean the coat after the engraving is done. This technique will help you get the maximum resolution while slate engraving.
Also, you may consider slowing down the engraving speed keeping the laser power at max. It helps in engraving at a higher depth.
Make sure to set the proper image settings from Lightburn, in our case, Jervis mode often works best for us.
- Powerful enough for slate engravings
- The coaster engraving preset works just fine for slate engraving
- The curved engraving feature effectively helps in uneven slate etching
- Comes with an air assist and a water chiller. Both directly contribute to keeping the debris away and protecting heat-sensitive materials
- Automatically detects the material shape during batch engravings saves users time
- Motorized pass-through is available for larger slate engraving works
- xTool S1 offers almost everything of xTool P2 at a lower price
- P2 is a noisier compared to the xTool S1 and F1
xTool S1 – for slate
The S1 is the first even enclosed diode laser that effectively competes with the mid-budget CO2 laser engravers. It is empowered with a 40W diode laser, 2W IR laser, curved engraving facility, and intelligent focusing system.
Whatever we said about the xTool’s P2 earlier, the S1 can effectively do everything being the diode laser. Also, it allows the user to switch from the diode laser module to the IR laser module which again acts like a fiber laser in terms of engraving sensitive materials.
xTool S1 effectively engraves slate coasters and other slate materials due to its superior power, engraving speed, and laser beam autofocusing ability.
Notably, S1 is a Class 1 certified laser machine that ensures maximum safety as well as eliminates the need to wear protective eyeglasses.
You can consider the S1 as an upgraded hybrid version of their earlier model D1 pro.
We published a detailed review of the xTool S1 earlier which contains extensive tests and user-friendliness assessment.
- Effectively engraves slate coasters with their maximum power (eliminating the need of multiple passes)
- Supported in light burn
- The laser beam positioning system is better (even better than camera-based positioning)
- Upgradable with automatic conveyer and riser base
- Widely supports almost all types of material regardless their dimension
- The laser head switching process is manual (F1 model did that automatically)
- Its positioning system doesn’t use’s camera which may be tricky for the new users. However, after use, users will find it more convenient compared to the camera-equipped lasers.
Slate engraving test
We engraved 8 slate plates using the xTool S1. The first thing we noticed is the clarity it produces at the highest engraving speed of 600 mm/s. Considerably there was less noise coming from the gantry movement if compared with the Atezr V35 Pro.
The S1 did splendidly well in terms of engraving uneven slate surfaces. we did not notice any single-focus distortion while engraving slates. This is done due to its ability to automatically adjust the height in Z-axes which is still absent in OMTech and Gweike lasers.
We could operate batch processing but it still lacks intelligent batch processing like the xTool P2.
We found the air assist kit pretty well which effectively adjusts the airflow as per the presets. This is awesome if you are a commercial crafter and need to switch the presets often as preferred by the customers’ order.
Overall, S1 is a superb slate engraver and is able to offer you a quick payback.
Below are the slate engraving works we did with the xTool S1:
As you can see, the curved surface and uneven condition could not affect the resolution and clarity of the slate coasters.
That’s the beauty of the xTool’s S1 which still does not have any effective competitor in that segment.
However, if you have a tighter budget, you may explore their D1 pro version that has the same 40W laser module but you won’t receive curved engravings and Class-1 safety features there.
For price and other qualitative details, read xTool S1’s in-depth review here.
OMTech Polar is great for slate
OMTech Polar is a 50W CO2 laser that comes with a comparably larger work bed compared to P2, Gweike, and Glowforge. This laser engraver is ready to work with the slates and most importantly it supports lightburn.
OMTech is a known laser machine manufacturer with having strong footprint in both CO2 and fiber laser machines.
For an in-depth review, price and engraving experiments – read this comparison article.
The polar is a suitable option for slate engraving mainly due to the following factors:
- The polar allows the tiniest precision of 0.001 which ideally makes slate engravings more detailed.
- It supports common file formats like JPEG, BMP, and AI as well as the lightburn which makes slate engraving easier especially if you compare it with the Glowforge lasers.
- Besides engraving, the 50W CO2 can cut other materials that directly contribute to your crafting.
- The build quality is amazing and pretty similar to the xTool P2. However, polar’s laser tube is placed with the gantry which makes it a little bit complex to perform.
- Autofocus works great but it does not support curved surface height adjustment.
- Slightly noisier than the xTool S1
Engraving slate using Polar
We engraved a few slate plates using the OMTech Polar. First of all, we do not have any complain regarding its efficiency. The laser power is powerful enough to work on slates. However, sometimes, you may need multiple passes unless the settings are aligned accordingly.
The honeycomb bed helped a lot to engrave slate coasters which was assisted by the air-assist kit. Notably, polar comes with water chiller which reduces the heat that protects the thin slates from getting cracked.
Below picture shows how clear the Polar can engrave slate:
For the above work, we used -1000 DPI, 250 mm/s speed, Max power 60%
Gweike Cloud Pro
Gweike cloud pro is ideally a Polar’s competitor having 50W CO2 laser power with 600 mm/s engraving speed. Its as precise as the Polar which is 0.0001 inch.
Gweike is just a perfect choice for slate engraving due to its nature and accessibility it offers.
Firstly, its CO2 laser power is way better than the diode lasers especially if you consider engraving slates. Secondly, it offers a similar work bed to the Polar and other features such as batch processing, water chilling, air-assisting etc.
Overall, Gweike’s customers have been happy due the fact of its lower price and customer support.
We reviewed Gweike extensively and here’s the final result of its performance.
- Generates 1000 DPI at full power which results in vivid slate engravings
- Its faster being the member of 600 mm/s club
- Supports Lightburn that creates user friendliness
- It features 3 axes linear guide rail for better maneuvering of the laser head
- Comes with a honeycomb bed, air assist, and water chiller
- There is a pullout drawer which helps in removing dusts while the machine is working
- No integration with the IR laser like the xTool S1
- Can not engrave curved material
Slate engraving with Gweike
We engraved a few slate coasters using the Gweike cloud pro. It works faster and more effectively. However, Gweike cannot batch process intelligently like the P2. We had to set the design for all of the slates manually which kills a bit of time.
Below is the slate engraving works done with Gweike cloud pro:
What we feel that, Gweike can be a choice of yours if there is budget contraints. However, Gweike does not have the flexibility to feed long materials through a conveyor like the xTool P2 which is a significant downside of this laser machine.
Atezr V35 Plus for slate
Atezr V35 plus is a very good DIY open-frame diode laser engraver which engraves slates easily. The V35 plus is an ideal competitor of the xTool D1 pro and an upgraded version of the Atezr P10.
The V35 is a 35W diode laser engraver with an open frame gantry. That means, it offers you the same engraving ability like the S1 but the unavailability of enclosure creates risk of incidents and requires you to be proactive all the time.
It empowers rotary axes and air assist which is a great positive side of scaling up your laser engraving business. However, the Atezr still lacks in curved engraving and intelligent batch processing.
One thing that attracted us is the smoother movement of the gantry which helps the V35 to operate quite smoothly.
- Atezr V35 plus offers exact same engravings of OMTech Polar at its half price
- Its fast and expandable with the additional expansion kit
- 0.001 precision helps in getting clear engravings in slate coasters
- Supports Lightburn for larger accessibility
- Air-assist kit, rotary and honeycomb bed delivered
- Works silently due to smoother gantry movement
- Laser height needs to be set manually
- No camera-based positioning system
Challanges in Slate engraving
Engraving slates is not easy unless the machine is compatible fully. We often get confused about the power & speed settings and fail to generate quality engravings.
Sometimes, lack of air assistance and overheating breaks the working piece which causes loss.
In many cases, slate engraving gets difficult due to dust blocking the laser head.
To solve this, we conducted a few test trials, and below are our findings.
- Clean the laser head before starting slat engraving. It will help in better focus and precision.
- Check if the air-assist nozzle is working properly and air pressure is accurate as per the job. Slates and stones make more dust which needs higher air pressure.
- Prefer having a laser in which the laser tube is placed at the back, not in the gantry. It will help restrict the dust and offer smoother gantry movement.
- Coat the slate with a clear cote first and after the engraving is done, clear the coat. It will help in making vibrant engravings in slate.
- Process your picture’s grayscale in Photoshop first otherwise the engraving would be too bright and below your customers’ expectations.
- Perform dithering on the picture to achieve an excellent combination of black and white tones.
- Set maximum DPI with at least 60% power and 250 mm/s minimum. It works great for the slate engraving.
- Check if your laser engraver has coaster presets, this will surely work best.
- You may consider lowering the scan interval at 0.5 mm which alternatively creates 170 lines per inch.
Post Processing Tips
Post-processing slates are equally important for the highest satisfaction. Follow the below tips to get the best engraving experience.
- Once you finish engraving wipe the slates with a dry towel.
- Apply aerosol lacquer to make it look vibrant and glossy. Make sure to apply on one side till it dries before applying to another side of the slate.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
These are some frequently asked questions related to slate laser engraving.
What can I use to engrave slate?
Slate engraving can be done with the hand etching tools. However, it takes a lot of time and you should always prefer using a professional laser engraver for vibrant and clear slate engraving results.
Can CO2 laser engrave slate?
CO2 lasers are the best lasers for engraving slates. Due to its power and wavelength, CO2 lasers effectively engrave slate compared to diode lasers. You are still good to use a diode laser for slate engravings but make sure to use at least a 40W engraver such as xTool S1.
What not to use on slate?
Never use a laser engraver without air assist while engraving slates. As slates make more dust during the engraving, air assist helps in moving them away from the work zone. Similarly, never use a low-power diode laser (below 35W) while engraving slates.
What makes slate shiny?
Apply aerosol lacquer to make it look shiny and glossy. Make sure to apply on one side till it dries before applying to another side of the slate.
What damages slate during engraving?
Lack of air assist, low power, unnecessarily multiple laser passes, and inaccurate line interval can destroy slate engravings. Follow our expert guide before engraving slate coasters.
Slate engraving will remain a profitable business for the next 100 years since the usability of slate coasters and the beautification of patios & lawns will never end. It is high time to start a slate engraving business. Just make sure that you have the right laser machine and your business strategy is up to the mark.