Buying a Jewelry Laser Engraver: The Ultimate Guide
Jewelry laser engraving is a trending business these days because of the great demand for products, wide varieties, and gifting. Business owners can make a massive inventory of hot-selling laser-engraved jewelry items for various occasions, events, holidays, and gifting purposes.
If you want to start a jewelry laser engraving business, your most important investment would be the laser engraver. The laser machine defines the final quality, appearance, and texture of the engraved design. If you have selected the right machine for this purpose, you will be able to get an excellent return on your investment in no time. But if you miss out on anything while buying the machine, your investment will not be worth it.
Thus, it is crucial to understand everything about laser machines that are suitable for jewelry engraving. For a beginner, it is undoubtedly strenuous to pick the right machine, but with complete knowledge of the machine and the requirements, the buying process becomes a lot easier.
In This Article
- What is Jewelry Laser Engraving
- Types of Jewelry Laser Engraving Machines
- How to Choose a Jewelry Laser Engraver that is Right for Your Job
- Best Laser Engraving Machine for Jewelry
What is Jewelry Laser Engraving?
Laser is the most preferred option for engraving jewelry because of the delicacy of the item and the requirement for fine details and high accuracy. The laser machine generates highly directed beams that can quickly increase the temperature of the material and leave marks or engrave the item.
The result of jewelry engraving using a laser machine differs according to the material of the jewelry. There are different results on wooden jewelry compared to metal jewelry. The appearance and feel are completely different.
Engraving metal jewelry using a laser means marking the item using a laser machine. By marking, it means that the laser leaves marks when it comes in contact with the material. The material is pretty hard and has a very high melting boiling temperature; therefore, there is no cavity, 3D appearance, or deep cutting.
On the other hand, when you engrave wooden or acrylic jewelry, the laser machine creates a deep mark or cut that gives a 3D look. If you touch that surface, you will feel the depth of the engraving. It is because these materials vaporize quickly when the laser beams meet the surface. Thus, the material is taken off the surface, and you are left with a cavity.
Jewelry engraving is used for various purposes. The most important or common use of jewelry laser engraving is personalization. There can be names, tags, dates, or whatever you want on the jewelry. Secondly, it is used for creating designs and cutting the material in the desired shape of the jewelry.
Types of Jewelry Laser Engraving Machines
There are three types of laser machines commonly used for laser engraving. All these machines have different characteristics, capabilities, and properties. Therefore, it is a must to understand what kind of jewelry they can engrave and how it works.
In this section, we are going to discuss the working of each type of laser machine and what you need to consider. We will also share the features, advantages, and pricing of the laser machine to give you a complete idea.
Diode Laser Engraver for Jewelry
The most common and affordable option for jewelry engraving is a diode laser engraver. People usually prefer it, and it is ideal for laser engraving business. If you want to work from home or in a small shop, this machine is suitable because it is compact and portable.
a. Applicable Jewelry Materials
In a diode laser machine, pump diodes are used to generate laser beams. These laser beams have the capability to engrave various materials.
Diode lasers can be further classified into two types. One is the most common one, which is the blue laser. The wavelength of this laser is 450nm, and it is capable of engraving wood, acrylic, stone, glass, steel, etc.
Depending on the optical power of the blue laser, the machine is able to engrave hard materials.
Usually, a diode laser has a power rating of 5W to 15W. This power is suitable for wood and acrylic jewelry; you cannot engrave on precious metals.
You can cut and engrave acrylic and wooden jewelry without any hassle. But please note that to be able to laser cut acrylic, the laser light has to be absorbed by acrylic. Due to clear acrylic letting over 90% blue light (visible light) pass through it, they can’t be cut using a blue light diode laser.
If the power is 20W, such as the xTool’s world’s most powerful diode laser, the machine can offer colored engraving on metals. But again, it is still not preferred for precious metals because of its wavelength.
The second type of diode laser is the infrared laser, which usually has a wavelength of 1064nm. Due to the wavelength of this laser, it is capable of engraving precious metals, such as gold, silver, and platinum.
Moreover, it can also engrave plastic much better than the blue laser. It is the preferred type of laser for small businesses that want to engrave precious metals with perfection. The optical power of this laser is usually 1-2W, and this is more than enough for metal engraving.
b. Features & Advantages
Diode laser machines are suitable for beginners, and they can easily handle it and start a new business. If they can buy both the blue laser and infrared laser module, they can cover a wide range of materials that are not possible by CO2 or fiber lasers.
It requires a lower investment compared to other types of machines, and you can get an excellent return on your investment. You can target various products and fill your inventory with splendid wooden, acrylic, and metal items.
A diode laser machine is ideal for small businesses as there is almost no maintenance, and the lifespan is quite longer than a CO2 machine. It also has batch processing features, safety features, and almost everything you need to start the engraving jewelry business.
The results of the infrared diode laser are very fine. Usually, the laser spot is smaller than 0.05 x 0.05, which is the best for engraving on jewelry. It offers fine results and the utmost perfection you need. There are no burn marks, and the objects appear clean and clear after engraving.
The engraving area of diode laser machines is usually large, so you can engrave larger objects. Furthermore, the engraving area on some machines can be further increased using extensions.
c. Price Range
Diode laser machines are usually available for $600 to $1200, depending on the features, power, and other specifications. It is much less than the price of a CO2 or fiber laser. Common people can easily invest in this machine and make different types of jewelry.
These machines have a longer life, so you do not need to replace them in a short time. With that being said, your investment is recovered for sure.
Keep in mind that this price range is only for the machine. If you need to buy a rotary attachment, enclosure, air assist, extension, and other accessories, it will cost you more.
CO2 Laser Engraver for Jewelry
A CO2 laser engraver is the next suitable option for jewelry engraving. This is also a suitable machine for small businesses. It is a bit more expensive than a diode laser, but it is still affordable.
The operation of CO2 lasers is based on a CO2 tube from where the laser beams are produced. The wavelength of the laser is over 10,000nm, which is much more than a fiber laser, infrared laser, and blue laser; however, it is still in the infrared region of radiation.
a. Applicable Jewelry Materials
CO2 laser machines support more non-metals than diode lasers. You can engrave wood, acrylic, paper, leather, plastic, stone, cardboard, food, fabric, stone, glass, and rubber. They can also engrave metals, such as aluminum and stainless steel, but it is not for engraving precious metals. If you want a machine that can engrave precious metals, you can go for an infrared diode laser or fiber laser.
The reason behind not engraving precious metal is the wavelength. The wavelength of a CO2 laser cannot properly engrave gold, silver, and platinum. You won’t get the results you are looking for.
You might be thinking that getting a high-powered CO2 laser would do the job, but the reality is that the engraving depends on the wavelength first and then on the power. If the wavelength is not suitable, it does not matter how intense the power of the laser beam is.
For instance, you cannot engrave on clear acrylic using a blue laser, but it can be engraved using a CO2 laser. Furthermore, CO2 lasers are very powerful. They are usually available in wattages of more than 30-40 watts. Thus, there is no issue with the power; the main reason is the wavelength.
With that being said, you can only engrave the jewelry made from the non-metals we have discussed and some non-precious metals.
b. Features & Advantages
A CO2 laser machine is quite compact and affordable. It is the next option for people who want to start laser engraving from home or a small shop, but it is not the right option for jewelry engraving because it cannot engrave precious metals.
It is quite powerful and can do engraving and cutting jobs at a very fast pace. Due to its high power, it is compatible with a large range of materials.
For those who want to buy a laser machine for wood, acrylic, stone, and other jewelry made from non-metals, it could be the right choice as it can engrave these materials at high speed and boost your productivity.
CO2 lasers usually have various built-in features that diode lasers do not have. They are usually enclosed, there is a proper exhaust system, most of the machines have a built-in camera, and last but not least is batch processing. The features depend on the machine you are purchasing.
These are also suitable for beginners who want to start a laser engraving business. As the machine can engrave various materials, there is a massive opportunity for making different types of products.
c. Price Range
CO2 lasers are more expensive than diode lasers; however, the price is still affordable. The price is usually $3,500 to $5,000.
The expected lifespan of CO2 laser machines is much shorter than diode lasers. They can last only up to 6,000-10,000 hours, while the diode lasers have a lifespan of 50,000 hours.
But again, these laser machines have their own advantages, such as engraving a wide range of materials that increase the number of products in your inventory. But still, it is not the right choice for precious jewelry engraving.
Fiber Laser Engraver for Jewelry
A fiber laser engraver is the first choice for engraving and marking metals, whether they be precious or non-precious metals. This laser machine is very expensive because of its immense power, incredible capability, and complex construction.
For large businesses, this machine is quite suitable because the price is quite high, which can only be recovered if the business is on a large scale. If you are looking to start a small business or your investment is low, we would never recommend a fiber laser machine.
Fiber lasers have a fiber optic cable that makes them different and better than other lasers. This cable is doped with a rare earth metal that decides the wavelength of the laser.
There are various types of fiber laser machines, depending on the rare earth metal doping. The wavelength varies according to the metal. For instance, if neodymium is used, the output wavelength would be 780-1100nm. There are other rare earth metals that are commonly used in fiber lasers, such as ytterbium, thulium, holmium, erbium, and praseodymium.
Thus, the wavelength of the fiber laser varies. The final wavelength decides for what purpose the laser machine is suitable. It can be used for jewelry engraving, metal cutting, laser welding, laser cleaning, and other purposes.
You need to choose the right fiber laser machine that is specifically made for engraving jewelry and precious metals.
a. Applicable Jewelry Materials
Fiber lasers can engrave all precious metals, such as gold, silver, and platinum. It offers optimal results and high accuracy. Other than these materials, fiber lasers are compatible with other materials as well, depending on the type of laser and power.
Fiber lasers are very powerful; even the 20W laser can engrave metals. You can go for higher power as well, but that increases the overall cost. Usually, you will see fiber lasers in the market having an optical power of 20-100W. Thus, there is no need to worry about the power of the laser as all can engrave jewelry, but it is better to buy 20W or above.
b. Features & Advantages
There is no comparison between the speed of a fiber laser and other types of laser machines. The peak power of the laser can reach up to 5,000 to 10,000, which is very intense and can easily engrave hard materials at a very high speed. Thus, if you have a fiber laser machine, the productivity will be incredible.
Due to high power, the performance of the machine is up to the mark. It offers ultimate precision and accuracy. It can also consider fine details that are perfect for jewelry engraving.
It is a long-term investment, so it is perfect for large-scale business. After considering productivity, speed, and performance, there is no better than a fiber laser for engraving items at a large scale.
But keep in mind that the machine size is also larger, so you need a large space.
c. Price Range
The price of a fiber laser is more than three to four times the price of a CO2 laser and 15 to 25 times the price of a diode laser. The price can be more, depending on the power and other features of the laser machine.
A 20W fiber laser will cost you $5,000 or more. If you go for a higher power, the cost can be more than $15,000.
Therefore, the cost of fiber lasers is quite high, and it is not a preferred option for beginners. Moreover, as you cannot engrave a variety of materials, you can only recover the investment if you have bulk orders of jewelry engraving.
How to Choose a Jewelry Laser Engraver that is Right for Your Job
Choosing the right jewelry laser engraver is the most critical task for a beginner before starting the business. However, if you know the things you need to consider and the important and essential things you need to notice, it will become much easier.
Let’s have a detailed look at the factors that you must consider to get the right jewelry laser engraving machine.
Type of Laser
The first thing that you need to decide on is the type of laser machine. We have already discussed three types of laser machines in this article and explained almost everything you need to know. You might have a clear idea of the type of laser you need.
If you don’t want to spend much, your business is new, you are a beginner, and you want to engrave precious metals, you can go for an infrared laser. It is a splendid choice for jewelry engraving.
For bulk orders and established businesses, fiber laser is the right choice. It requires more investment and is the ideal machine for jewelry engraving.
The power of the laser machine should be considered. If the power of the laser is too low, it won’t be able to engrave the object, or you might have to run several passes, which will take too much time. Thus, getting the right power is necessary.
Before we discuss this further, it is important to know that there are different types of power ratings mentioned on a laser machine.
You will see optical/output power, machine power, and module electric power in the specifications. The power that we need to look at to decide whether the machine is suitable for the task or not is the optical/output power. Technically, optical/output power is always lower than the machine and module electric power.
Module electric power is the electrical consumption of the laser module. It does not show the capability of the laser. The last one is the machine power, which indicates the power consumption of the machine.
If you are purchasing the diode laser machine (blue laser), the power should be 20W. For the CO2 laser machine, the power should be at least 40W.
For metal laser engraving, we have suggested Infrared and fiber lasers. The power of the infrared laser should be 1-2W, and the fiber laser should be at least 20W.
Again, by power, we mean optical/output power.
The working area is a vital aspect of the laser engraving and cutting machine. It decides the size of the object that your laser machine can engrave.
The larger the area, the better it is. For jewelry engraving, you do not require a large area, but if you go for it, you will be able to engrave other larger materials as well.
Make sure the laser machine has at least the working area you desire for jewelry engraving. The ideal choice would be to go for a larger one to accommodate more objects and larger objects.
The rotary attachment is a very important accessory in jewelry engraving. For engraving rings, bracelets, and other round objects, you need this attachment to rotate the object while engraving it.
The attachment rotates the object 360 degrees to ensure engraving on every corner and side. You should get it while purchasing the machine.
Not all rotary attachment is suitable for every purpose. You need to buy the rotary attachment that works on rings and other jewelry items. It is better to go with an attachment that is a combination of different types of rotaries, such as ring rotary, roller rotary, and chuck rotary. It increases the choice of objects.
The lifespan of the laser engraver should be considered because it gives you a better idea of the working life of the machine.
It is usually mentioned in the specifications. Make sure to check to know how you can get your return on investment.
In a laser machine, accuracy is quite important, and in the case of jewelry engraving, it becomes essential. Due to the delicate and small jewelry objects, there is no compromise on the accuracy and precision of the machine.
There are two types of accuracies mentioned on the laser machines. One is the positioning accuracy, and the other is the repeat position accuracy. The position accuracy shows how accurate the laser machine is in engraving at the right position, while the repeat position accuracy indicates the capability of the machine to get back to the same spot with minimal error.
Ideally, these two accuracies should be a fraction of inches or 1-2mm. The lesser, the better.
To get the right laser machine for engraving jewelry, you need to look at the list of materials that the machine can engrave. It gives you a better idea of what you can do with the machine.
We have discussed the compatible materials of different machines in the article, but still, you need to check it for the machine you are buying.
Accessories and Features
You also need to check the accessories that you will need for the machine, such as enclosure, extension, air assist, and honeycomb panel. Depending on the machine, you need to buy these accessories.
Other than accessories, pay attention to the features of the machine, such as limit switches, batch processing, image extraction, material detection, auto-focus, etc.
The safety features of the laser machine are very important to prevent accidents. You also need to check what safety features are available. For instance, there should be flame detection, automatic turn-off, laser protective glass, and tip-over safety.
Best Laser Engraver for Jewelry: xTool 2-in-1 Laser Engraver
xTool’s 2-in-1 laser engraver is the best laser engraving machine for jewelry as well as other purposes. The machine comes with two laser modules, one is the blue laser module, and the other is the infrared module. You can use both these modules in one machine and replace them whenever you want.
The blue laser module is available in two variants. You can either buy the 10W or 20W. The 10W module is suitable for engraving as well as cutting. It offers better details and fine results because of a smaller laser spot. On the other hand, the 20W module can also engrave and cut, but it is ideal for cutting because of its immense power. It can cut 10mm basswood sheets in only one pass. The best thing about the 20W module is that it can offer colored engraving on metals, and it works at 400mm/s.
The infrared or 1064nm module is the best option for metal engraving. It can engrave on all metals, including precious metals. Therefore, it is ideal for jewelry engraving. You can engrave gold, silver, platinum, copper, aluminum, Titanium, and other metals. The power is 2W, and it is more than enough for the purpose. Secondly, this module is also suitable for plastic engraving. It offers the best results on plastic and acrylic.
As this machine has two laser modules, you have a wide variety of materials to target. You can use the blue laser to engrave and cut wood, acrylic, leather, glass, ceramics, stone, and some metals. The infrared laser is best for engraving metals and plastic. Therefore, this combination is right for starting a business. There is a wide variety of products you can target at a time.
The machine is built to last for a long time. It has a sturdy metal structure that keeps the machine stable and ensures accuracy. There are steel wheels and rods that make it last three times longer. Therefore, it is perfect for businesses. It offers a positioning accuracy of 0.004 inches and a repeat position accuracy of 0.007 inches. Furthermore, the limit switches in the machine help in the accurate positioning of the laser module.
It is safe to use because of its safety features. It turns off automatically if tilted. There is also a flame detector in the machine. Beginners can use the machine without any hassle. It also has specialized software to make everything easier. If you are looking for a machine to start jewelry engraving, there is nothing better than the xTool D1 Pro 2-in-1 Kit.
Jewelry engraving is an intricate job that requires extra precision and accuracy. For this, a suitable machine must be selected that is capable of engraving all types of metals commonly used to make jewelry items.
We have discussed the three common types of laser engraving machines. It will give you a better idea of what you need to select. There is also a complete section on choosing the right jewelry engraving machine by considering important factors.
For the ease of readers, we have also shared the xTool D1 Pro 2-in-1 Kit, which is an ideal machine for jewelry engraving as well as engraving wood, acrylic, plastic, glass, stone, and other materials. We hope now you have a better idea of what machine you need for jewelry engraving and how you can choose the best one. Good Luck!
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