So you went out and bought yourself a laser engraver. Most people think they will just build the machine and start making money. But there are some tools and accessories out there that will make your experience a far better one.
First of all, welcome to the world of precision. Your customers want their engravings centered. And in a certain spot.
And if you intend to do rotary operations, a set of calipers is a must have tool.
The only way to achieve precision is to own precision. You also need to measure material thickness frequently, and measure the size of your working area. You need a set of NEIKO Digital calipers.
These are great because they do both metric and imperial measurements and these calipers get really solid reviews on Amazon. The only thing that I will say about them is they take weirdo batteries, LR44, so pick up some spare batteries. And I recommend taking the battery out of it if you aren’t going to use it constantly.
I use calipers on a nearly daily basis while I use my laser engraver. Sometimes a tape measure will do, but calipers are king. And I’m a metric guy. Yeah, I was born and raised in Indiana but lived in Japan for about 16 years. I came to respect and admire the metric system. Say anything you want about the metric system but a precise millimeter measurement beats converting fractions to decimals ALL DAY LONG.
CONVERSION TOOL AND CALCULATOR
Speaking of conversions………..you’ll have to do that too sometimes. There are some great conversion apps but there are none better than saying “Alexa, Hey Google, Hey Siri, convert 7/16’s to a decimal”, especially if you didn’t take my metric advice seriously. I use the smart device for conversions and math all the time. It’s quick, simple, and takes no hands.
One of the most annoying things about lasers is leaning over them and casting shadows and then becoming your own biggest problem. An architects table lamp solves this problem in a big way.
Position it on the back side of the laser and you’ll never be in your own way. Swing it way down or twist it right or left.
I promise you that if you buy a laser and don’t have a strong light hovering over you, that you are in some some (non) fun.
Also, along the same lines, I keep a strong flashlight by my laser so I can shine a light right on the working surface and see what is happening. The blue laser combined with a safety shield, sparks and smoke makes it real hard to see sometimes. You especially want good eyes on when you start your job to make sure the intensity is not too light or too dark.
Get you some optical cleaning cloths. You don’t have to have these and you probably have some glass cleaning cloth laying around somewhere. Your laser may have included some. Your eyeglasses may have come with some. In a pinch go to a camera store or camera section in the Big Box store and get some.
Never wipe a dry cloth across your optical lens. If there is dust or other contaminants you can scratch the precision surfaces. Get some compressed air and gently blow the lens or lens cover off first. Use isopropyl alcohol in as high a percentage as you can find it. Most stores sell 91%. Only use your fancy cloth slightly dampened with the alcohol first. Resist the urge to use a Q-tip however, I have to confess that I use them sometimes.
Clean your optics FREQUENTLY.
PAINTERS TAPE AND MAGNETS
Nothing worse than having your Air Assist blow your engraving surface out of place. Securing your items is a vital part of hobby. Small items such as keychains, pet tags, card stock, or other light items need to be held in place somehow or like Lynyrd Skynyrd sang, it’ll be like Tuesday and be gone with wind.
Also you can slap a layer or two of painters tape down on your intended laser surface, set your power SUPER LOW and do a practice run to see what it will look like. Just be sure not to burn through the tape.
Thumb drives are going the way of the VCR however keeping your laser files on one is a good way to maintain file redundancy. It’s a known fact that most people don’t employ a decent back up strategy or even a back up strategy at all. I try to save my files on either my Windows OneDrive, or Mac iCloud as well. It’s all good until the hard drive crashes and you lose years worth of your money making files.
You may find various things to improve your experience, but these are the things I keep nearby at all times to my laser. If you any suggestions, comment below and I’ll add them to the list.