Introduction: Laser Engraving Eagle Coat of Arms on Aluminium Sheet Metal

The guys at Needham Coding have recently given me the opportunity to test out the Minilase XL 50W fiber laser machine. I have used some of their other engraving machines before, but this is the first I’ve got to play the Minilase XL and a 50W fiber laser! I decided to document the process for the benefit of the Instructables community ?

Step 1: Prepare Your Vector File

For my first project, I decided to have a go at engraving a heraldic eagle coat of arms on a 100mm x 100mm x 3mm aluminium sheet. I found the artwork free online here:

I opened the EPS file in illustrator and split the eagle and shield into two separate layers. I then saved each element as an individual Illustrator vector file (version 8).

Step 2: Open Laser Program and Import File

Open the Minilase Pro SE program and go to File > Import Vector File. Select your saved Eagle and Shield files.

Step 3: Fill Vector Shapes

The vector files will show up as two separate objects within the Object List panel. Select each object in turn and click on the H icon located on the top menu to add a fill to the vector shape. Please see images for the fill properties I chose for the project.

Step 4: Set Parameters

Select each object individually and enter your preferred parameters in the parameters panel.

Note: knowing what parameters to use for your marking project is the trickiest part of the process! The Minilase Pro SE does come with a basic parameter library, but that is only a starting point. For example, when I tested Needham’s other laser engraving machines in the past, they only had a 10W or 20W fiber laser source. The parameters I selected for this project, using a 50W laser, will result in a different outcome if used with a smaller laser source. Most laser engraving machines available on the market use a 10W or 20W fiber laser.

Step 5: Trace and Mark!

Click on the ‘Trace’ button to preview the size of the mark on the laser machine. The Trace function will allow you to position the object you want to engrave in the right place. Once you’re happy with the position, click on the ‘Mark’ button to start the marking process.

Note: the marking time varies considerably depending on the complexity of the image, the parameters you’ve chosen and depth of engraving. This particular mark took approximately 8 minutes to complete. The video is playing at 2x the normal speed.