I create hand stamped jewelry on gold filled/sterling silver - but demand is getting high and I’d like to begin laser engraving to save time/effort. Can anyone recommend a relatively affordable machine suited to this that is compatable with lightburn? Bonus points if avaliable in AU
Can you describe a little how you would use the machine? What type of material would you be engraving? What type of duty cycle would the machine need to support?
Also, where would you be using the machine? How much available space would you have and what type of access to ventilation would be available?
As for budget, could you provide a specific range that puts this in the affordable range? The variance here is astonishing, frankly.
Thanks for the reply, below is a picture similar to what I create (this is not my work however) - I just hand stamp with hammer/metal stamps etc and tape down, however definitely think engraving could be much easier. I use gold filled and sterling silver discs (as pictured). My studio is a large shed with two roller doors and another door, however winters here are brutal. $1000 - 1500 is probably what I’m looking to spend at the moment… of course I’m not complaining if it is cheaper though
Nothing in the hobby range of money will engrave on metal. Lasers do not do a good job of engraving metal anyway. It can etch certain types with certain types of lasers but you have to have a very specific laser for most metals which are very costly to own and run.
You would be better off with a small CNC to machine metal. Unfortunately you would lose some detail from what you get with stamping.
@plantlady Are you looking to reproduce the stamped look that you are getting today? If so, then @HalfNormal’s suggestion of a CNC mill might be the most practical choice. You could either engrave directly into the ornamental or you could create your own stamps with the CNC and maybe punch with a press or hammer.
If you are looking for a different surface finish where you have lettering or images that appear just on the surface then a fiber laser might work for you. They tend to run quite a bit more expensive currently (several thousand dollars typically). LightBurn does not currently work for fiber lasers.
Interesting. So, when you ‘stamp’ do you stamp the individual leaves/stems/etc of the pattern to create an overall design (eg flower)? In this case, maybe CNC routing could be useful (you can get fine detail, but it’s a serial process - grinding out each bit of metal - and therefore slow). On the other hand, if your stamp has the complete design on it, then, perhaps, CNC routing to mill the stamp would be effective.
In any case, I agree with the others, lasers may not be a good choice for this application.
Consider a chemical etching process on the silver blank, whereby you make the mask out of 651 vinyl using an inexpensive diode laser, 3 watts can do it. I have been successful in making such masks to etch steel using a 4% saline/water solution and 8VDC@5A; vary saline, distance between anode/cathode, amps, and volts depending on the etching speed and surface effect desired. I’ve also used a wax mask laid down over a negative mask. I have been able to get fine detail, to 0.5mm wide, on steel using the vinyl mask method.
I did a quick google search of chemically etching silver, it appears possible using a ferric nitrate (see hazards) process and performed as such in the jewelry market.
Or, consider making a steel punch to strike your silver blanks using the steel etching process.
Chemical etching is an interesting idea. It of course adds a hazardous materials consideration to this. Keeping in mind also that laser cutting vinyl is also hazardous. A craft vinyl cutter could be used as an alternative with its own pros/cons.
There are a lot of great alternatives to vinyl for masking.
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