All you need to know about glass laser engraving. Getting started!
Glass engraving is a very interesting subject, it became very popular during the last 10 years once inexpensive diode, DPSS, co2 lasers appeared on the market.
Glass laser engraving
How does the laser glass engraving work?
There could be 2 methods of laser engraving of glass – direct and indirect methods.
For the direct method – the laser is hitting the glass and engraves it. Right now it is only possible to do with a Co2 gas laser since the wavelength of 10600 nm (10,6 um) is very well adsorbed by the regular (window and other types of glass)
For example these beer mugs we engraved using 40 watt Co2 laser
For a direct method, you can get very accurate and thin engraving lines (pixels)
The indirect method is when the laser goes through the glass (when the wavelength is shorter) like 400-1500 um then the glass does not absorb the laser radiation and it goes through and then hits a surface under the glass and then the scattered (diffused) impulse/radiation hit the glass back.
The more power you have – the faster the laser engraving process will be.
For an indirect method, you can get bigger engraving lines (pixels) because the engraving process is done by a returned (bigger) impulse/radiation.
A lot of people ask if the glass laser engraving and etching are the same?! Once you talk about glass – it is more correct to say about glass engraving and marking. Laser etching is applied for metals mostly once you get oxidation on top of the metal.
Glass types suitable for processing with a glass engraving laser
What types of material can be used for laser glass engraving?
For laser glass engraving you may use all types of glass including sapphire glass. However, it is better to use glass with high thermal resistance. Once the laser is heating the glass it can start crumbling (cracking). Those micro damages can grow and then the entire result can become unsatisfactory.
The mirror can be engraved very similarly to glass engraving. You may engrave on a mirror glass surface or you may remove the reflective layer. It depends on what you want to get at the end. However, both variations are available.
Function and advantages of laser technology
The key advantage of using laser glass engraving is that the glass is a very fragile material so CNC milling or carving is not always a good option. Another thing that you need to take care of is glass dust removal once you process the glass mechanically. That would require a high – quality filters. Once you do a laser glass engraving – there is no glass dust that appears so it is relatively safe to use it in a small workshop or even at home.
Basic steps and settings for a direct laser engraving method.
Step-by-step instructions for engraving and cutting glass. Settings.
- Setup a focus on the top of the material.
- Make different tests checking the power, laser engraving speed. (depending on the laser you have it could vary from 100 mm per min up to 2000 mm per min).
- Once you get different test results you are the one that makes the best and the most accurate laser glass engraving.
Basic steps and settings for an indirect laser engraving method
- Setup the focus below the top (usually it has to be setup on the bottom [under the glass])
- Select the best material for indirect laser engraving (it could be anodized/painted tape, masking tape, etc.)
3. Make a few tests with different power, engraving speed, and amount of passes (sometimes it is better to have 2-3 passes)
4. Select the best parameter you have and start the laser glass engraving process like a professional
Examples of laser glass engraving
You may remove paint from the glass and can apply different colors like shown in the images above in the gallery.
It is very important to use the proper laser and the proper parameters like speed, power, amount of repeats.
Removing black paint from a glass (photoengraving using a Co2 40 watt laser)
This is a very simple process on Co2 laser. A lot of Co2 lasers do not have a dynamic PWM that is why black and white color (transparent) can be made by ‘pixalizing’.
Application of laser engraving on glass.
Laser glass engraving is mainly used for personalizing different glass items like mugs, glasses, plates.
Here are TOP-5 best engraving on glass
With special fiber and DPSS laser modules, you can do a 3D engraving inside of a piece of glass.
You may also do a nice photoengraving on other materials.
Laser engraving on glass overview (extra details)
By means of laser engraving, you can make a memorable inscription on the glass with a photograph, add a drawing, or an ornament, giving the captured moment more brightness and expressiveness. For engraving on glass, the nominal output power of the laser must be at least 3-3.5 watt (3000-3500 mw). For laser engraving, you need to install a semiconductor (diode), Endurance Laser, on a CNC machine or 3D printer.
Probably everyone would like to make memorable moments brighter and more expressive. By means of laser engraving, you can make a memorable inscription on the glass with a photograph, add a drawing, or an ornament, giving the captured moment more brightness and expressiveness. With Endurance semiconductor (diode) lasers, this became possible.
Glass is transparent and it is not possible to directly engrave on its surface. The laser beam will go through the glass and will not be able to focus its power on the desired point of the surface. To laser engrave on glass, Endurance specialists recommend using a special base layer, on which the laser beam will be focused. During the process of laser engraving, the base layer will locally melt and under the influence of high temperatures, the glass layer adjacent to it will melt too, thus making engraving.
For engraving on glass, the nominal output power of the laser must be at least 3.5 watt, we suggest 5-5.5 watt (5000-5500 mw). A complete list of equipment for laser cutting or engraving and actual information about their cost are to be found on our website.
For laser engraving, you need to install a semiconductor (diode), Endurance Laser, on a CNC machine or 3D printer. You can find video instructions on this not a complicated process on our website.
We would like to remind you that a direct or reflected laser beam can damage your vision. We strongly recommend the use of safety goggles when working with laser devices.
Endurance customers make and share their laser glass engraving examples
A detailed video guide of a glass laser engraving using a diode blue laser.
An alternative way of laser engraving with a Dremel
Why do our customers buy lasers and engraving machines from us?
+ Ability to choose the right laser or engraving machine. We help to qualify customer needs by phone / email / Facebook messenger / telegram / whatsapp / viber.
+ We provide qualified after-sales service.
+ Our lasers and engraving machines are fully assembled and ready to go.
+ Delivery time from 24 hours. All systems are built to order.
+ Lifetime warranty.
+ We provide video tutorials and guides.
Laser engraving for yourself and for your business.
Advantages of our lasers
+ Assembled in Russia.
+ Reliable. The guaranteed duration of continuous operation is 48 – 72 hours.
+ True continuous power output as advertised – unlike many Chinese analogs.
+ All our lasers cut plywood, felt, fabric, acrylic, leather.
+ All our lasers can engrave on leather, acrylic, plastic, plywood, wood.
+ Lasers with an output of 5.6W, 8W can engrave on anodized and painted aluminum, glass, or stone.
An alternative way. Removing the paint with the laser from a glass
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Laser etching glass – a real customer story
In Melbourne, we are in lockdown for the 6th time, and will not be let out till sometime in late October or early November. Who knows what our Christmas will be like this year?
Again, thanks to Covid 19, I have spent far too much time on Youtube.
I came across a video on laser engraving glasses, using various sorts of materials to get it to work. These were a wet paper towels, wet newspaper masking tape, glass laser tape, and of all things, dishwashing liquid!
The laser used in the video is a Co2 unit of some sort, but not sure of its output, but it could be 100 watt.
Having a 2.5watt diode laser, I wondered if it was possible to get a result using one of these methods.
Firstly, I tried the wet paper towel. Not sure of settings to use set the laser at 99%and used 100mm/minute for speed. Not sure how many passes would be required, so set it to 5.
The glass was sitting a piece of MDF board on the laser bed, and because the laser was not passing through the wet paper towel, it was not being burnt.
The result was, no result at all, no marking on the glass at all.
Next, I put a light coating of dishwashing liquid on the top surface of the glass, left all the settings the same, and tried again.
Surprisingly, nothing happened on the top of the glass, but as it was sitting on the MDF sheet, some marking appeared on the bottom face. At first, I thought it was residue from the burning MDF, but when I cleaned the area, there was some etching on the back face of the glass. Some areas were very faint, and others were more noticeable. I guessed the thickness of the dishwashing liquid on the top of the glass may have something to do with the varying result.
As the glass was marking on the back, I put a sheet of Black paper under the glass, so any residue from the burnt MDF would be kept to a minimum.
The result was fascinating. The glass was indeed being etched by the laser. The black paper was being cut, the MDF was being burnt. After cleaning it up, I had my name etched into the glass.
Thinking it may have been the residue from the cut paper and MDF, making the etching look dark, I swapped the Black for some Red paper.
The result was the same. Another name on the glass.
Having had success so far, I used Lightburn to do the outline of a witch from a drawing off the net, and proceeded to give it a go.
Leaving the laser speed and power the same, I dropped the number of passes down to 3 to see what would happen.
The result this time I think was better than the 5 passes. The etching was indeed there, and it looks much cleaner.
Still unsure if it was working, tried to clean the back of the glass with various products, but none of the etching was removed. I could still see it, and feel it on the back of the glass.
The small square in the top right corner was the first try with the glass sitting on the MDF. The others in the bottom right and bottom left were with Black paper under the Glass.
The lower “Bob” was done again using Black paper, and the other was with Red paper under the glass. No difference. Both were after 5 passes. The outline of the witch was again with Black paper, but only 3 passes. I think it looks much clearer.
I did not have any masking tape to try, but found some Blue painters tape. Next to the tape in the top left corner is a rectangle done with 1 pass. The 2nd rectangle, also done with 1 pass and I had the focal point adjusted to the top of the glass. Speed and power was again 100/99. It would seem there is not much difference between the 2.
The above was taken before I tried the painter’s tape. In the previous picture, the engraving does look very dark, but under the light, the engraving is showing light reflection, which leads me to believe it has worked.
The link below shows another method to do engraving with a Diode laser, and the results look quite impressive. I will have to try and source the paint to give it a go. Do not have an airbrush, but will just paint the glass.
A great video by Paw Paw’s WorkShop “How to Laser engrave on Glass with Diode Laser”
Written by Bob West