Introduction: How to 'Test Engrave' an Object Before Engraving It! (Rotary & Laser)
This is an alternative method which I feel works a lot better than the standard pen attachment you can
get for most engraving machines. One of the major downfalls with the pen is it's engraving is as wide
as the pen tip and because you have to use paper to test on it's hard for curved or small items. And
you can't see with pinpoint accuracy where the engraving is on the item.
I use what I call 'Laser Heat Tape' (the green stuff). You can pick this up from a couple of companies.
I got mine from Innotec in a 2" roll. ( JR248 "PAINT MASK" Green Polyester Tape) This will withstand
some heat if you are going to use it with your laser. Because the tape is transparent
it lends itself for being able to line up your engraving on your item.
You can use it in a single layer to test engrave on an item with a laser set to a low setting, I use
speed: 75 / power: 50 on our 10 watt laser
but you will have to do a couple of test to make sure you are not engraving through it.
You just want to lightly etch the surface.
If you want to laser glass or crystal without flaking, cracking or fractures, you can laser through
this tape, use the following settings for a starter guide and get your perfect results today without
having to use the paper/water mask (which has less then perfect results). As I said it's great for
aligning your engraving at a lower setting too.
Epilog 30watt laser 100pwr 30spd 300dpi
Epilog 10watt laser 100pwr 8spd 300dpi
Again, these are just base lines, you will need to run your own tests but once you get "your"
settings perfect, you will get great results! Thanks to Bob Hischebett of Barker's Trophies for
this tip and Judy Rasmussen of Innotec for sharing it!!
Now on with traditional CNC engraving... You can use it doubled or tripled up (Depending on the
power of your machine). This is what I am going to show you how to do in this ible.
Step 1: Layering the Tape
Okay, so you have an item you want to engrave but you want to test engrave it first.
You may want to do this if
- it's an odd shaped item
- It's expensive!
- A one of a kind piece
- Family heirloom
- High arch or curve (without a cylindrical attachment)
This is mainly because you want to make sure your clearance on your Z axis is set right so it won't drag.
When it comes down to having to replace a customer's item. It's always best to run
a test first. It saves you a lot of headache.
In this example I ran an engraving test on a medal for a local college.
I set up my file and placed 2 layers of tape (4 pieces total overlapped) to cover the medal.
Note: for those of you wondering, I use a combination of poster puddy and silly puddy
(kneaded together) as a securing agent for odd shaped item on the engraving deck
or when they mark or scratch easily.
Step 2: Engrave the Tape
- In this step you do not want to do a full run on your engraving. If you're using true-type fonts which you hatch filled,
you will want to turn this off before engraving. You just want to engrave the outline.
- Always be ready with your finger on the emergency stop button of your machine, just in case.
- Double check the pressure you have the machine set at. Sometimes this is on the computer
side of things and sometimes it's a dial or a spring tension on your engraver.
Note: Before you start engraving make sure you have your Diamond tip for Diamond Drag inserted.
If you wish to Burnish the item you can switch back to it once you test the engraving first.
Now that you have your tape on the item and your file set up to engrave you can run your test.
Yes, this looks scary the first time you do it because you can see the color of the object through the tape
where it engraves. You will be able to tell if it is cutting through the tape. (this is why it is good to do a
test of your machine with the tape before hand to get your baseline settings for this.