What’s 3D Laser Engraving?

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3D laser engraving involves engraving a three-dimensional surface on multiple edges or creating a 3D image with depth. Laser engraving is better for this process and can engrave beneath the surface of glass or crystal. Grayscale images are used, and there are different methods of 3D engraving, including Sub-Surface Laser Engraving (SSLE). The operator must know how to calibrate the grayscale to achieve the desired effect.

The form of engraving known as 3D laser engraving is a special type of engraving that involves engraving a three-dimensional surface on more than one edge at a time or creating a 3D image with several levels of depth. Laser engraving, which uses a laser instead of a cutting tip, is better at this 3D process, because it can easily dig into the surface without a bit accidentally getting in the way or hitting previous engraving marks. The image to be used with 3D laser engraving is typically taken from a grayscale image and the operator needs to know how to calibrate the grayscale to get the right depth and effect. There are also special laser engravers that can engrave beneath the surface of glass or crystal to create 3D images within the material.

The simplest version of 3D laser engraving is when more than one side of a 3D object is engraved at the same time. For example, if someone wants to engrave a cube, it will take less time to engrave multiple sides at once than to do each side individually. This type of engraving equipment uses two or more lasers simultaneously and the user must load all sides correctly into the program or the engraving will be incorrect.

Most commonly, 3D laser engraving is used to create a 3D image with depth. For example, with an ordinary engraver, a flat image with lines suggesting depth will be inserted into the material. Carving is similar to 3D engraving in that both actually dig into the material to create a visually distinct foreground and background. With engraving, this is done via different intensities of the laser.

Sub-Surface Laser Engraving (SSLE) is a 3D laser engraving method that does not engrave on the surface of the material, but under it. This is usually done on crystal or glass, because other non-transparent materials would not be able to display the image. SSLE is used for promotional items and often leaves people scratching or rubbing the surface of crystal or glass, wondering how the engraver achieved an image within the material without leaving any marks on the surface.

Most 3D laser engraving machines have the 3D image set with a grayscale image. There are 256 shades of gray between black and white. The closer it gets to white, the less it gets cut off; the closer to black, the more material will be cut. By knowing how to color an image correctly, the engraver operator will be able to get the right cut into the material.

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