Trotec Rayjet Laser Engraver Acrylic Engraving Tests

May 27, 2010 on 8:13 am | In Uncategorized |

I recently ran some tests using the Trotec Rayjet laser engraver to see what it could actually do and how I might exploit that to it’s fullest :)

The main experiments were with white 3mm acrylic.  The Rayjet comes with a special commander interface that allows you to assign properties to colours in the drawing you want to cut/engrave.

The basic properties are as follows:

Power: 0 - 100% (how many watts will the laser use in a single pass)
Speed: 0 - 100% (how fast the laser head will move)
Cutting function: Cut or engrave.

All the tests used the engrave function.

I initially conducted the test on the right (see the image below). This test was to establish the cutting depth for each power setting. I kept the power constant at 100% and varied the speed. The notation I’m using is power/speed. The 6 tests, in order were:

Power/Speed Remaining height mm Cut mm
100/100 Inconsistent result *  
100/80 2.7mm 0.3mm cut
100/60 1.98mm 1.02mm cut
100/40 1.7mm 1.3mm cut
100/20 1.49mm 1.51mm cut
100/10 1.25mm 1.75mm cut

*I tried several times to get this consistent, without success.
I suspect either a problem with the commander software or a colour problem in my art work.

Following the the depth tests, I attempted to run tests between 100/10 and 100/1 but the commander software only produced a single power setting, that applied across each colour.

In the end, I found that the most effective technique was to use a single colour for engraving (Black RGB 0,0,0) and to vary the grey level to adjust the height. This means that you decide how deep you want the maximum engraving cut to be by adjusting the power/speed setting, and then use 256 shades of grey to produce your engraving, which actually makes a lot of sense.

The series of gradient tests on the right showed that I could use a gradient to create a particular angle, or curve, depending on the setting. I tested with power/speed settings of 100/2, 100/4, and 100/6. In the end I decided that 100/5 was the best setting that just cut all the way through the acrylic, meaning that I could vary the black (with 256 shades) to get the exact depth I wanted. In fact, I should conduct another test showing steps in 10 percent increments.

My target was to create a 22.5 (or thereabouts) degree angle, in the cut. The tests on the right in the image below shows that 67.5% for the gradient location in illustrator gave me approximately 22.5 degree chamfer.   The gradient location is effectively the position of the midpoint between the two gradient colours, at 50% it is halfway between both colours.

All in all I’m really impressed with the Rayjet, I’m going to miss it when I go back to Australia.

A little more experience with the control interface will teach me what I can and cannot do, as I’m sometimes frustrated by not knowing why certain colours dont engrave.

Test results for the engraving:

Rayjet Engraving Test Results

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