GUIDE: Choosing the Right Laser for Your Project

By Lia Davido

Do you have a digital piece you’ve created that you think would look really good engraved into a piece of Birch, maybe a two-inch-thick Oak board? At the Innovative Media Research and Commercialization (IMRC) Center, there are two laser engraving options, the Universal VLS 50W Laser and the Full Spectrum 120W Glass Tube  Laser.

Both lasers engrave, but one may be better than the other, depending on what you want to do. To start, how large do you want this piece to be? The Full Spectrum has a laser bed that measures 24inches by 36inches. The Universal is a little smaller, coming in at 18inches by 24inches. So if you were trying to make the largest engraving possible, the Full Spectrum would fit the best, but if that doesn’t matter, maybe you’re looking at power? When engraving into a very thick piece of wood, a laser with more power is sometimes best, especially if you also want to cut through it at any point. Again, the Full Spectrum wins out here, with 120 watts at your disposal, while the Universal has 50 watts. However, the strong power of the Full Spectrum can sometimes engrave straight through thinner pieces of wood and can muddle some more intricate details. The lower wattage of the Universal makes it more effective for intricate and delicate projects, like cutting out paper. But if you want to engrave a brick, the Full Spectrum is your best choice. The last important variable to consider is how long your project will take. The Universal is the best choice if you’re trying to get a quick prototype made. It works faster than the Full Spectrum and engraves a good amount of detail in a shorter amount of time. However, if you have the time and thick material, try going with the Full Spectrum. At the end of the day, both are well suited for different types of projects, and it’s up to you to decide which is better for your individual needs.

Image of Laser Cut Acrylic on display in Nutting Hall Exhibit 02A Visual Record: Champion Trees

A Visual Record: Champion Trees highlights the importance of trees citing a national registry, Maine’s own tree registry. With engravings on acrylic by German forester and author (b. 1964) Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees.

The exhibit is on display from May 20th, 2023 in Nutting Hall at the University of Maine Orono Campus and has been brought to life by the following artists:

Lia Davido, Ian Beckett, Jessy Brainerd, Augusta Sparks Farnum, Walter Greenleaf, Berlynn Haupt, MK Jones, Adriana Cavalcanti, Reed Hayden, Anna Martin, Susan Smith, Rachel Church, and Walter Tisdale.