It might sound like a rather niche subject on the surface, but you’d be surprised just how many laser marking suppliers there are in business up and down the UK right now. Of course, it hardly takes a genius to figure out that some brands aren’t quite on-par with others and the same very much applies to the actual machines themselves. Laser engraving and marking technology has been in widespread use for well over two decades now, but while some machines are being built to full 2015 standards, others are manufactured as if we were still living in the 20th century.
The key point to remember here is that if you’re in a line of business where product or part marking matters, the quality and capability of the machine you choose with have a direct impact on everything you do. As such, it’s of crucial importance to make sure the best machine possible is taken on in the first place as this is one of the most vital and influential investments the business is ever likely to make.
So when out to invest in a laser cutting or engraving machine of any kind, what are the kinds of things you should be looking to keep in mind?
Well, first and foremost you need to make sure that the machine comes from a brand you can trust. You’d be forgiven for assuming that it is largely impossible to go wrong these days as it’s not as if there’s a thousand and one brands out there making these kinds of industrial machines. Nevertheless, there are probably more branded and unbranded machines on the market than you might think, which is why it’s of the utmost importance to buy from a brand you can trust.
With a good brand comes a package of plus points, ranging from high-end engraving quality to long-term warranties and the kind of after-sales service that could well save your business in a crisis. So do yourself a favour in the first instance and be sure to choose a brand with a reputation to be proud of and a quality service package offered as standard with every machine.
One of the other crucially important considerations to bear in mind is that of buying directly from the manufacturers, as opposed to buying from third-parties or middlemen. It’s often assumed that it doesn’t really make any difference as the result is technically the same, but this tends not to be the case at all. Even if you choose a quality product from a brand name you know and trust, buying from a middleman does little other than complicate the buying process, take prices even higher and land you in difficulties if and when you need help or guidance further down the line. If you’re going to buy from a brand you know and trust, there’s really no better way than buying from them directly and giving the resellers a miss.
Custom-Solutions or Pre-Fabricated?
If possible, it’s wise to think about buying from a brand which will to a large extent build the precise machine your business needs to order. While some brands carry a relatively simple catalogue of a few fixed products, others offer much wider ranges and then there are those that promise complete engraving and marking solutions that are for the most part made to order. Ordering ‘off the rack’ as it were might yield a decent enough result, but it’s only by having a marking solution tailored to order that you can be sure it will fit 100% of your needs, 100% of the time.
Materials to be Cut
Of course, another of the key considerations that must be made is that of exactly what kinds of materials you intend to use the machine to cut and in what way you intend to cut them. Some machines cut only along X and Y axis while others offer full 3D engraving. Some machines are designed to work brilliantly with plastic and others with wood – then of course there are those that do pretty much everything rolled into one. Be sure to map out exactly what it is you need before you head out to look for it.
Last but not least, it’s crucial to factor costs into the equation as there’s often more to the subject than meets the eye. For example, there will always be those laser engraving machines that appear to be bargains in the first instance, but end up costing so much more to run and maintain that over time, they cost you more than a higher-end machine ever would have. Think about your intended output, how much you have to spend in the first instance and how much the machine is likely to cost you long term.