Recommendation on mirror engraving

Hi, I want to step into laser engraving, with the main purpose of being able to engrave on the back of mirrors, and the front of wood panels. I want to be able to make nice engravings of photographic images. At the moment I am doing this by sandblasting with UV sensible masking materials, but the result is somewhat coarse (like 35lpi) and only dithers, no greyscales. As I understand Lightburn makes it possible to do real greyscales? Elsewhere I read that diodes are most useful for that, since CO2 lasers are to powerful for that. Is that right?

Can someone give me some recommendations of the diode that would suite my wishes?

I moved this from the Hardware to the Community Laser Talk category, because I think my question was overlooked. Thanks!

Maybe start with price and time requirements. How much do you want to spend? How long do you want to wait around for a project to be done? The diodes are slow, as they’re low powered so they need to be. You can get decent quality photos engraved with even a 100w co2, it just takes some work. It’s also dependent on the material. What kind of wood are you planning on engraving?

Thanks Blake.

I am considering building a machine like this: (but a bit bigger in XY) and get a diode laser for it. Price of course as low as possible, but I thought this would make a good choice: The 4.2W with high resolution lens probably.

So I am not going for the absolute cheap stuff, but need it to be reasonable in total, and preferably easy to order in Europe.

It’s my understanding that CO2 often is too powerful to engrave fine details. Also greyscale would be better if using a diode? But some source are contradictive. I would like to be able to let’s say a 20x20cm picture being laser-engraved within a working day of 8 hours. I have no idea about what kind of would, but being able to engrave on the back of mirrors is a must for me.

Grayscale is definitely going to be better with a diode. But often, if your source image is of sufficient resolution, you can get very good results with stucki or jarvis dithering through Lightburn, with a co2. If this is more of a hobby for you, and price is a large concern, then the diode would likely be a good place to start, and you’ll also end up getting experience with gcode cnc systems, which can come in handy later down the line. But if you’re looking to make money, I don’t personally think a diode is the way to go. I think I’d probably look for a k40 with a ruida or smoothieware compatible controller.

I’ll start out with a diode. It is easier to self-built a machine with a diode and it sure is for a hobby. If thing’s get out of hand (productionwise) I will have earned a step up to a CO2 machine I guess :wink:

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