Haven’t decided on which Etcher Laser to get yet? You may already know that there are two types based on the laser wattage rating, but do you know what that difference means?
Let’s look at some information that might help.
This article will describe how the difference wattage affects performance and function. By comparing the similarities and the 3 main differences between the two, it will show you what the difference really means.
After reading, you will know which one is best for you!
Similarities Between 1.6W and 3.5W
Before we look at the differences between the two, let’s summarize the similarities to help you understand the differences a little better.
Both the 1.6W and 3.5W power options utilize blue diode lasers to cut and etch.
(We’ll take a look at the differences between different types of lasers in a separate article. Coming soon!!)
Likewise, both power options are capable of cutting and etching the exact same types of materials such as, wood, leather, cloth, food, etc. However, neither option can cut metal. Anodized aluminum can be engraved. Likewise, neither laser option can cut or engrave clear materials such as glass or clear acrylic as the laser will pass through the clear material and only react to what is underneath.
(For full list of compatible materials, see bottom of this page: https://etcherlaser.com/products/etcher-laser).
Both options are equally precise and accurate and therefore provide the same resolution or image quality when etching. The difference between the two here is that processing time and darkness of the engraved image may not be the same.
Both also have adjustable power parameters, so if you purchase the 3.5W and want to lower the settings to use less power, this is possible. This is also an option for the 1.6W as well.
Differences Between 1.6W and 3.5W
Difference #1：How Deep They Can Cut
Each power option has a maximum depth to which it can cut compatible materials. As a general rule, the 1.6W model can cut up to a depth of 1.5mm and the 3.5W can cut up to 3mm. This, however, also depends on the material being processed. Not all compatible materials can be cut to the above listed depths in one pass.
Here are some examples of material cut with the Etcher Laser:
* Examples of other things cut with the Etcher Laser are Coming soon!!
Difference #2：Difference in Etching/Cutting Speed
As mentioned above, both lasers have different processing times based on their power ratings; the 3.5W being twice as fast in most cases as the 1.6W. For example, an image that takes 5 minutes to etch for the 1.6W laser at full power may take around 2.5 minutes at full power for the 3.5W laser.
Difference #3：Processing Times, Darkness, and Depth of Engraving
Again, as mentioned before, the different power options will also have an effect on how dark the engraved image is. The 3.5W laser will yield a darker image than the 1.6W after one processing session due to the increased power (as the lasers use heat to etch).
However, the depth and darkness depend on the material so exact measurements of these parameters cannot be guaranteed.
Conclusion & Tips on How to Choose the Right One for You
To decide which is best for you, you will first have to ascertain what kinds of materials that you want to work with most often, as well as what kind of processing you will do primarily (that is, do you want to cut, etch, or both?).
If you are unsure about a certain material, we have a Sample Request Service available in which you send us a sample of the material you would like to work with and we will cut or etch it here in our office and let you know the results. The customer will pay shipping for the sample but the service itself is free (We are providing this service only for US residents, thank you for your understanding).
①Buy the 3.5W
You can do more with the 3.5W as it is the more powerful option. That is, faster processing, deeper cuts, and darker images.
②Test out the 1.6W first and upgrade to 3.5W later if necessary
If you purchase the 1.6W and decide later that you want to upgrade to the 3.5W, you don't have to buy the whole machine. You can simply purchase a 3.5W laser head and upgrade the your Etcher Laser by installing it!
Hope the information helps, and contact us anytime if you have any further question. Thank you!
Etcher Laser Team