Top 5 Tips For Lasering MDF

MDF Processing Tips


MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) is a strong, engineered material made of wood fibers, wax, and resin. The ability to laser cut profiles and engrave deep numbers and logos has much money-making potential in the crafting, signage, interior design, and furniture industries.

Laser cutting is an easy way to process shapes with minimal scrap material. A common problem I see from customers who are trying to use their laser to get the most production and the best quality parts comes down to incorrect machine settings. I would like to spend some time and look over all the essential machine settings to get the best results for laser cutting and engraving MDF.

The following 5 parameters are crucial to understand to gain the biggest benefits from your laser system.


Each Kern laser system is specified by its laser wattage. The actual laser wattage emitted from the laser tube is known as laser power. The higher the wattage, the more power the laser machine has. Every Kern CO2 laser can cut MDF at full 100% power. At this full power setting, you will maximize your machine’s efficiency, or it’s ability to cut out the greatest number of pieces in the shortest amount of time.

Alternatively, you may only be needing to engrave the surface, mark a logo, etch a part number. In these instances, a REDUCED power setting may be best, resulting in a depth and color according to your desired look.

A final consideration with laser power is adjusting the PWM (Pulse Width Modulation). The Kern CO2 laser is a pulsing laser that allows you to adjust the pulsing frequency during the laser process. This frequency range varies from 100 to 50,000 Hz. I have found the peak cutting performance for MDF processing to be in a range from 3800 to 5000Hz. If you increase the pulsing to 10,000 and above the audible noise level will be noticeably quieter, but it will not be in the peak cutting performance range.


The goal when cutting MDF is to complete the job in the least amount of time, with the highest quality results. A point of consideration for clean fast cutting is to push the speed as fast as you can and still get completely through the material. One of the problems with cutting too slow is that you will create more dark char or burning on the profile as well as dark smoky spots on the back of the material. This will require your operator to clean the honeycomb bed more often, as well as require a more detailed cleaning of the parts.

When it comes to engraving the MDF, a faster speed will produce more smoke and fumes so be sure the top-side engraving vacuum is enabled and pulling away any lingering smoke from the engraving process.

Sometimes a much lower DPI of the image or artwork will be sufficient when engraving MDF boards and panels. This decrease in picture resolution will allow your overall speed to increase, which will reduce the time it takes to complete the job.


When cutting the MDF material you will notice a good amount of smoke being generated by the lasering process. Most of our machines are equipped with two 2-3 HP blowers, and it is essential to ensure your vacuum system is in operation and running optimally.

One of the import steps when setting up your MDF cutting is to have a powerful suction holding your sheet of material down flat. Since you do not have any clamps to secure or keep the material from bowing up, you will need to be sure to have your vacuum running at full strength as well as sealing off any open area of honeycomb to ensure full vacuum potential.

When engraving with the OPTIFLEX or LASERCELL machines, the top gantry has a vacuum manifold built into the underside of the moving gantry. This manifold is connected to a vacuum unit that assists in the removal of smoke and debris. You will notice when you engrave a piece of MDF the white smoke will rise up into this manifold area and not be deposit back onto the material.

The most misunderstood aspect of cutting this material cleanly is assuring you have your material flat and held down so the nozzle will stay in its proper focus position.


The Kern laser systems have an adjustable tube that allows the movement of the lens assembly into the correct focusing position. Once the lens has been moved to the proper height using a lens spacer tool, the lens assembly has been focused. Now, the part of the beam with the thinnest width can cut the MDF material quickly and cleanly.

If, over time,  the material starts to lift up, or the honeycomb table is bent you may notice some wider lines during the cutting process. This is because the distance from the center of your lens to the top of the material has changed and it is no longer in focus.

Several times I have seen where the operator has assumed the lens assembly and the lens spacer tool spacing is correct, but it was not due to the material lifting or the bent honeycomb. Typically, this space is set at the factory so you can quickly place your cutting lens into focus, but in your shop there are other variables that can skew the accuracy of this focusing tool.

The best way to find your focus height is to do a focus test. This focus test can be found in our video library (also shown below) and you only need a a piece of paper or scrap wood. The goal of the focus position it to have the finest or narrowest beam width possible. This may require the operator raising or lowering the internal lens position OR the focus dial slightly to get the lens into the correct focus height.


Finally, another important parameter when cutting this hard fiberboard is to use a good amount of assist air when cutting or engraving. Mounted on the lens assembly, you will find an air elbow. The lens assembly has a ¼” airline that allows for a steady stream of air flowing out the nozzle during the laser process.

The air compressor source will need to have a moisture and oil trap to prevent any contaminants from getting onto your lens. The best pressure to use when cutting MDF will depend on the nozzle size you are cutting with, but I have found the best cutting and engraving pressure with a 0.100″ diameter stock nozzle to be 40 psi.

Kern’s KCAM Laser Software has advanced settings to allow you to piece the material with one air pressure and then cut the profiles with another. The machines have two air gauges that will assist in getting the cleanest entry hole as well as allowing a clean look by pushing and spreading the vaporized MDF away from the kerf path.

If you plan on cutting MDF in the future, be sure to learn and review these five essential parameters to cut your material cleanly, smoothly, and with maximum speeds.

7 Tips for Cutting Mild Steel

production laser cutting metal

Mild Steel Processing Tips


Cutting mild steel with a CO2 laser isn’t just possible, it’s an excellent choice for those seeking clean, consistent and precise cuts. In this post, we’ll be discussing tips for laser cutting mild steel.

When equipped with the laser cutting option, Kern’s CO2 lasers are quick and efficient at mild steel cutting.

The following tips will help operators be successful…  


As you likely know, the wattage of a laser will dictate the thickness of mild steel you’re able to cut, and the speed at which you’re able to cut it. 

Check out the manufacturing specifications of your laser’s system to see what thicknesses of mild steel different laser wattages can cut. While there may be some variation, the manufacturer recommendations provide an excellent guide. 


An important part of cutting mild steel is the moment when the laser first pierces the material. Keep in mind that the settings during the piercing process will be different than the settings during cutting. The pierce point requires lower power, about half the air pressure and steady contact for 1-2 seconds.  


Laser beam placement is a key component of cutting mild steel. The goal here is to align the beam so that it goes directly through the center of the nozzle. 

The copper nozzle on Kern laser systems has an opening size of about 60/1000 of an inch. If the beam is not centered, the nozzle will clip the beam. A clipped beam spells all sorts of trouble for cutting mild steel. 

First, it will decrease the power, which can prevent the beam from having enough strength to pierce the material. Additionally, it will prevent the laser from making clean cuts. Instead, it will leave the mild steel with burrs and unclean edges. 


In order to effectively cut mild steel, the copper nozzle needs to be at a distance of 0.010″-0.020″ from the material being processed. This provides the laser beam with the ideal focus point for the laser to perform optimally. This also allows the assist gas to penetrate into the cut to help clear away debris and create a precise clean cut. If your nozzle is too high, not only would your nozzle be out of focus, but the assist gas would be dispersed over the cut leaving debris within the cut.

This same principle is in effect when using a magnifying glass to concentrate the sun’s heat. Making slight changes to the height of the magnifying glass affects how powerful the beam is, just like adjusting the height of your laser’s copper nozzle affects the beam’s power. 


A laser outfitted with bad optics is not going to cut mild steel effectively. Check your mirrors and your lenses to ensure they are free of debris. 


When cutting mild steel, choose either oxygen assist or regular shop air. For thicker mild steel, choose oxygen assist with a lower psi. 


Although it does take a fair amount of power for a CO2 laser to pierce and cut mild steel, too much heat will leave burn marks on the material. As a rule of thumb, less heat is better for mild steel. 

Instead of defaulting the power setting at 100%, try to figure out the lowest power setting that will still allow you to cut the material. The lower setting will help you prevent marks and dross on the back side of the mild steel. 


In this video, Jake Shaw will lead you through the basics of cutting 18 gauge mild steel with a 400W CO2 laser. 

If you have additional questions about cutting mild steel with a CO2 laser, please contact us. We would be happy to provide you with additional information.

Maximize Your Production Time With a Kern Laser System


For small business owners and entrepreneurs, it can feel like long days and late nights spent working is just part of the gig. But sometimes, getting more done doesn’t have to mean working more time. In fact, by investing in the right equipment, it’s possible to improve manufacturing efficiency and give yourself some much needed time to breathe.


While it’s true there are only so many hours in the day, there are ways to get more done in the time available. For many, increasing manufacturing efficiency is something that sounds good but seems impossible. After all, if it’s all hands on deck, what else can be done?

Here at Kern Laser Systems, we’ve seen countless individuals improve manufacturing efficiency by using a laser system. 


Automating manual processes is a great way to increase manufacturing efficiency. Take, for instance, cutting. If your trade or production efforts include manually cutting materials like aluminum, fabric, foam, leather, wood or some other material, imagine how things would change if that cutting was automated and accomplished using a laser cutter? For many, a switch like this would be revolutionary for their production numbers. 

For example, say you’re a manufacturer of engraved wooden coasters. At first you started out as a small etsy shop, doing the engravings with a CNC, after a few months your demand has reached a level where you now have multiple back-orders, a wait-list, and are losing customers due to not being able to meet the demand fast enough.

You are now overwhelmed with work and unable to catch-back up which not only takes a toll on your business, but also on you as you spend more and more time engraving coasters to try to meet the demand.

Now imagine if you purchased a laser to do the engraving for you.

You could do multiple coasters at-once with only a small amount of finishing after the laser was done. You would be more efficient, enabling you to meet, and even exceed, demand. This would allow you to continue to grow your business, and allow for free-time to spend with family and friends. 

The best part, a laser system increases efficiency and productivity immediately.


For manufacturers looking to increase production efforts, another option is to invest in a dual-head production laser cutter like the OptiDual., Dual-head production lasers make it possible to increase production yield by doubling down on laser processing. Here’s a quick video of the OptiDual in action:

As you can see, the OptiDual operates with two nozzles mounted on a single gantry. They work side-by-side, cutting the exact same shapes and patterns. For industrial-scale production, the OptiDual is an excellent option. 


A Kern laser system provides owners and operators with the capabilities to increase manufacturing efficiencies, allowing you to accomplish more in less time.

Try out the laser fit tool to help determine which Kern laser system fits with your laser processing needs. 

4 Ways To Increase Laser Engraving Resolution

Improve Laser Resolution


Depending on the material you are engraving—whether it’s wood, acrylic, laserable plastics, marble, granite, aluminum, anodized aluminum—you’re going to have different settings for DPI (dots per inch), air pressure, speed, and power to create the best resolution on the end product. So, creating the best resolution is a combination of the right settings and the right application.

In this article, we’re going to share some of the factors impacting laser engraving resolution and provide operator tips for achieving the best results. 

We’re going to start with the number one thing operators need for optimal laser engraving resolution.


There is no amount of settings and capabilities that can compensate for a poor-quality image. If your laser-engraving goal is clear, crisp resolution, starting with a high-quality image is essential. Too often, people try to laser engrave an image that’s either scanned from a physical photo, taken with a low quality cell phone/camera, or even found online and screenshotted. 

Typically, these images will not provide enough detail for high-resolution engraving. Instead, it’s best to choose images that have higher dpi/resolution and were taken with a digital camera. 

As a good rule of thumb, high-resolution images are those with 300 DPI and a large pixel dimension. 

Also note that what is considered a high-quality image depends on the desired result. In some instances, an image 400 or 600 DPI may be needed. To learn more about high-resolution images, check out this article.  


When it comes to laser engraving, the image’s dpi is not the only one you need to know about. There is also the dpi laser setting, which literally tells the laser how many dots to lay down per square inch. Unlike with the image, choosing a higher dpi in your laser settings does not necessarily translate into a higher resolution engraving.

Here’s a quick look at how we look at dpi in laser engraving: 

  • Low – 150 DPI
  • Medium – 300 DPI
  • High – 600 DPI

This is where you’ll see operators choosing the highest possible dpi available in their laser settings, under the assumption that it will create a higher-resolution engraving. What actually ends up happening is that their engraving has basically the same look as if they had chosen 300 DPI, but the actual processing takes longer. This is because the laser is passing over the same area multiple times.  


When operators want a higher resolution laser engraving, it can mean taking some time to test settings and find the best result. Typically, processing speeds will be lower for high-resolution engravings, while power settings will be greater. Here’s a look at the same image laser-engraved at different power settings: 

For this engraving, the laser wattage and dpi remained the same, but the power was set at either 40%, 60%, or 75%. As you can see, the engraving’s resolution becomes more clear as the power settings increase. 

In this next example, we have made changes to both the speed and the power settings while using consistent dpi and air assist. 


As you saw with the examples, how an operator chooses their laser settings has a big impact on laser engraving resolution. This is one of the reasons why we always recommend testing your engraving on a piece of spare material to assess and tweak settings. We recommend this even if the operator is running off of settings specifically geared toward their material, application, and end goal. At the end of the day, the only way to truly know what the result will be is to test it out. 

The ability to create high-resolution laser engravings is a valuable skill for laser operators to have. Whether you’re looking to laser engrave images or lettering onto materials, the advice provided in this article will help you achieve high-quality results. 

Do you have specific questions about achieving a high-resolution laser engraving? If you do, please contact us so that one of our craftspeople can help you.

Create Stunning Stone Monuments With CO2 Laser Engraving

Create Stunning Stone Monuments With CO2 Laser Engraving

What do we want our monuments to do? Should they be an open and honorable representation? Should they provide an emotional response within those who view them? Should they showcase the love and appreciation we hold for the people, places and pets who impacted our lives? Whatever it is you want a stone monument to accomplish, you can do it with laser engraving.


Stone is one of the many materials that responds beautifully to laser engraving. The use of  lasers can create clear, crisp words and images on stone surfaces. Wondering what types of stone are used for laser engraving? The most common materials are: 

  • Granite
  • Marble
  • Basalt
  • Slate
  • Limestone
  • River rock

With the many colors and characteristics of these types of natural stone, the possibilities are near-endless. 


With the use of laser technology, creating personalized stone engravings can happen in three simple steps. 

  1. Imagine a design
  2. Create the design
  3. Engrave the design

When it comes to imagining a design, the sky truly is the limit. A little later on, we’ll share a handful of stone monument designs created on Kern Laser Systems. All of these designs were imagined by someone, then they were designed using computer design software like Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW. Finally, those design files were loaded onto KCAM, our proprietary laser software before being engraved into a personalized, one-of-a-kind stone monument. 


Unlike human-made materials like acrylic, stone types aren’t known for their consistency from piece to piece. After all, they are formed via natural processes and develop their own unique characteristics. And because no two pieces are the same, it’s important to be willing to reassess and adjust your laser engraving settings to create consistent results. 

To get started laser engraving stone, it’s good to begin with focusing the laser beam similar to how you would for acrylic or wood. Stone, like acrylic and wood, responds well to direct engraving, where the energy from the laser causes a whitening effect. 

Finding the ideal power and speed settings are perhaps the most important component of creating stunning stone monuments via laser engraving. While your manual will come with recommended power and speed settings for natural stone, it’s typical to tweak and adjust these settings to get the ideal result. 

For best results, always do a small test engraving with a piece of scrap material to troubleshoot speed and power settings. If the engraving looks blurry, you may need to decrease power. On the other hand, if the result is more gray than white, your power setting may be too low. Tweaking the power settings is a simple, yet necessary step in getting the results you want. 


What You Need to Know About Laser Cutting Aluminum

What you need to know about laser cutting aluminum

Aluminum is one of the more challenging materials to laser cut. That’s not to say it can’t be done, but it does require a bit of expertise. Among other things, it can be difficult to create a clean-cut edge when laser processing aluminum. In this post, I’m going to cover some of the properties that make aluminum a challenging material for laser processing and provide a few tips to help your laser cutting efforts be more successful. 

Laser Cutting Aluminum

Whether you’re laser etching aluminum or cutting thin aluminum sheets, the tips and information outlined here will help you be successful with this product. The first thing to understand is what unique characteristics aluminum brings to laser processing. 

 Why is aluminum more difficult to cut? Aluminum has some properties that react differently to laser beams. These properties have to do with its reflectivity, molecular structure and thermal conductivity.


When you project light onto a reflective material, it bounces back or scatters. So when the light of a laser beam makes contact with aluminum, the tendency is for it to bounce or scatter as well. This can make laser cutting difficult.

Solid and stable molecular structures are easier to cut through than softer ones. Because aluminum’s molecular structure is more malleable, the laser beam is not as effective at piercing through it and creating clean cuts.

Finally, aluminum is a heat conductive material. As such, it quickly absorbs heat, which is needed for clean cutting. Also, when you dissipate the heat it makes smooth laser processing difficult.

All of these reasons are why laser cutting aluminum is difficult. But just because something is difficult doesn’t mean we can’t do it. Over the years, we’ve fine-tuned our aluminum cutting capabilities to make it an easy and effective process. 


While it is reflective, soft and thermally conductive, aluminum can still be cut with a CO2 or fiber laser. High-speed laser beams make it possible to cut various alloys of aluminum, including aerospace and marine-grade aluminum alloys. 


When cutting aluminum with a CO2 laser, we’re using a metal cutting head, which is a different assembly than the one used when cutting non-metal materials like plastic or foam. 

The metal cutting head assembly has a protective window for spark reflection and a variable/adjustable focus knob. These features make cutting aluminum sheet much more effective. It eliminates the issue of finding the right focus position and setting the perfect height. 


In order to get a clean-cut edge with aluminum cutting, you want to focus on two things: high pressure and gas assist. These two combined will effectively eject any molten material quickly, preventing the buildup of a rough edge. With aluminum, the faster you cut, the smoother the edge will be. That’s also why higher wattage lasers will perform better when cutting aluminum. They allow you to push the kerf line faster. 

Unlike other options, like routers or CNC cutters, laser cutting aluminum is a fast, efficient process. It also allows for no contact cutting, so the only thing touching the material during processing is light. There is absolutely no need to clamp down or otherwise secure the material. Not only does this save you time, but it prevents any impressions or damage making its way into the material. 

Laser Cut Pipes, Rods & Other Cylinders With a Pipe Rotary Attachment

Large Format Laser Cutter and Laser Engraving System

Laser Cut Pipes, Rods & Other Cylinders With a Pipe Rotary Attachment

We know lasers are excellent at cutting and engraving smooth, flat surfaces, but what happens when the material or object you want to work with is round? With the pipe rotary attachment option, flat table laser systems can process all sorts of cylindrical items like pipes, rods, canes, walking sticks, flashlights, tumblers and liquor bottles. Basically, if it is cylindrical in shape and made out of a laserable material, it can be cut or engraved with a properly outfitted laser system. 


Our rotary attachment is compatible with every laser system in the Kern lineup. Adding a z-axis rotary to a Kern laser system enables operators to cut or engrave cylindrical items with ease. The rotary option can be removed when not in use, allowing the system to retire to normal flatbed operation. This versatility is key for many owners and operators. 

Watch the video to learn more about the pipe rotary option and see it in action: 


There are two different rotary setups available from Kern Laser Systems. 

The Chuck Rotation setup implements a lathe chuck to firmly secure pipes in their place. A tail stock pushes up against the opposite end to keep the pipe rotating on center during curing. The tail stock is able to be adjusted on a rail to accommodate different lengths of pipe. Adjustments to the rotary chuck can be made to accommodate pipes with a diameter up to six inches. It is a popular option for manufacturers of motorcycle exhausts, large filters and pipe joints.

We also offer an alternative rotary device that relies on rollers to spin a cylindrical item, allowing engravings to wrap around the entire outside surface of a product. Since there is no chuck or talk stock holding the ends of the product, the laser head has full access to the entire item. This rotary is a popular choice for engraving applications where the entire surface of the product is to be engraved. Adjustable rollers allow for the accommodation of different sized products. Common applications for this roller rotary are walking sticks, flashlights and tumblers. 


As mentioned early, our laser rotary attachments are compatible with the full lineup of Kern laser systems. If you’d like to see this attachment in action, please schedule a demo. We offer both remote and in-person laser demonstrations. 

4 Things To Avoid For High-Quality Laser Engraving


Laser Engraving Mistakes to Avoid

Laser engraving can take some getting used to. Even seasoned operators will find themselves confronted with the occasional head-scratcher during a laser engraving project. Below, I’ve outlined a handful of laser engraving tips and techniques to help you avoid costly mistakes.

What are some of the common mistakes laser owners and operators make that end up costing them in the long-run? Here are four laser engraving mistakes to avoid.


Setting the proper optic air pressure when cutting metal is a very important step, and you will notice the negative effects of incorrect air pressure almost instantly.

When it comes to engraving, air pressure commonly gets overlooked as most materials are much more forgiving, and the air pressure setting is not critical. However, there are certain engraving and etching applications where setting the air pressure correctly is key.

One of these applications is plastic etching—such as an acrylic sheet. Using a higher optic pressure through a small nozzle concentrates the air flow onto the area being processed and can leave a hazy ghosting or shadowing effect around the etched area. By simply decreasing the air pressure you might see a decrease in this effect immediately. Don’t turn off the air completely, as you do need some positive pressure to keep smoke from entering the beam delivery.

Another tip to go along with this is using a wider nozzle opening. Kern offers a wide nozzle that can be added to any S-FOCUS assembly.


Before diving into a new project, it pays to run a little test cut on an excess piece of material, even when you’re relying on presets. The fact of the matter is, you never truly know what the final result will be until you see it. Material variation is a common problem especially in wood and stone.

One tip here is using a neat feature in our KCAM laser software. The “Position in File” feature allows you to move to any engraving line in your project. If there is a more critical area of your engraving with lots of detail, you can simply type in that line and the laser will start at that point. KCAM makes it easy and highlights the line you type in so you can get to the line you are looking for easily.

Notice the red and cyan line across the engraving file below. Generally, an inch or two of engraving will give you a good idea if your settings are correct.


Laser engraving leather is going to be different from laser engraving glass. And the same thing goes for engraving acrylic or wood. These materials are all different, and those differences impact how they respond to laser engraving.

Taking the same approach to laser engraving regardless of material types is a recipe for disaster. There is no one-size-fits-all to laser engraving, because the variables—and possibilities—are endless. 

The KCAM software accompanying your laser system includes the ability to save your settings in a directory for future use. This works great for customers that process the same materials on a regular interval. Simply load in the settings file and you are back to the same great settings you were using a month ago on the same material. This helps to maintain consistent engraving from job to job, and it helps reduce startup time for each project. 

Over time, your settings directory will become one of the most important parts of your system!


Are you noticing your laser engraver’s performance is slower than it used to be? It might be time to give your machine a thorough cleaning, with special attention to the optics. Like any piece of equipment or machinery, laser engraving machines require routine maintenance.

Depending on the materials you are engraving, dust and debris buildup may be a frequent problem. It is important to make sure your vacuum blower system is running efficiently. Ensure there is not build up in your vacuum hose lines and smoke/dust is quickly being picked up by the vacuum ports. As always, check your operator’s manual for tips on cleaning your machine and other maintenance specifications, especially if you’re noticing a sharp decline in processing speed.

One common mistake I see is when customers are using a known good setting but for some reason they are not getting the results they did previously. Most users instinctively increase the laser power to get back to the proper setting. However, most times that is the last thing you want to do. The best solution is to determine what is causing the drop in power. It could be a dirty optic that just needs a good cleaning. If you ignore these warning signs, the increase in power will only heat up the optic more and eventually it will crack.


For customized laser engraving tips and techniques, you can always connect with the team at Kern Laser Systems to discuss your approach to engraving. Oftentimes, it comes down to understanding your material, your laser system and how the two react to each other. Luckily, getting the hang of laser engraving is relatively quick and easy, especially when you have the support you need. 


Who Uses Kern Laser Systems? A Look at Industries We Serve.

MDF Processing Tips

Kern laser systems are used within a wide range of industries. Here’s a list of the industries we serve, along with some examples of the materials and products lasers processed for these industries.


Within the aerospace industry, laser cutting is heavily relied on. Parts and components that go on to support aircrafts, military defense and space exploration rely on the accuracy, cleanliness and precision of laser cutting. Companies like Boeing and Dassault Falcon rely on the laser-cut precision of Kern lasers. 


Fiber lasers and properly fitted CO2 lasers are used within the automotive industry to cut, engrave and mark. Here’s a look at some laser-cut automotive details. 


Laser cutting and engraving brings more unique elements to today’s awards and trophies. Commonly cut from acrylic, metal or wood, laser-cut awards and trophies are popular in corporate settings, athletic competitions and the arts. 

With lasers, etching text and images onto the award looks professional and lasts a lifetime. Here are some examples of awards made with laser processing: 


Foam fabrication with laser systems yields much greater precision and much less waste than other methods like saw cutting or searing it with a hot rod. Foam box shadow tooling is perhaps one of the most popular forms of laser-cutting for foam. It requires only a low-power laser and yields precise results. 

For instance, cutting three-inch foam pairs perfectly with a 150 watt laser. If operators use too high of a wattage with foam, they run the risk of burning the material. 


Laser cutting and engraving for memorials and headstones makes efficient work out of adding images, landscapes and inscriptions to natural stone

Businesses that provide memorial services, like funeral homes, cremation providers and pet memorialists all rely on laser cut precision to help create one-of-a-kind memorials for loved ones.


The use of laser cutting, marking and engraving is widely utilized within the medical industry. Laser cutting lends itself to creating medical devices, especially as devices and products shrink in size and grow in intricacy. Laser systems provide the precision and speed required for medical device production. 

For instance, in the early months of 2020, the need for medial PPE surged. And in response, laser owners and operators from every area of industry pivoted their production efforts to meet this demand, producing face shields, face masks and other protective barriers.


A versatile laser system is right at home in a job shop. Job shops are just that, shops that take on jobs of all shapes and sizes. Kern laser systems, with their ability to process a wide variety of materials with precision, can help job shops be even more successful. 


With laser processing, companies can create custom displays for their products. For example, makeup companies with custom displays for their products will have the name of each product or the color number etched right into the display where the product is held.  


Laser systems provide an unmatched level of versatility within the signage industry. Laser cut and engraved acrylic, wood, plastic and metal materials are used to create signage. Signage is used in all areas of business, from local mom and pop shops to medical facilities. With laser engraving, signage can be etched to include words, room numbers, ADA lettering and more. 


Laser-cut textiles are becoming more and more popular. Lasers do an excellent job cutting a wide variety of textile materials, from cotton and polyester to silk and nylon. Unlike with scissors or other cutting methods, laser cutters do not leave rough edges behind or cause fraying.


Woodworking and laser processing make a perfect pair. Lots of wood materials respond well to laser cutting and engraving, creating beautiful results. Here’s a look at some wood products created with Kern laser systems

This was a brief look into the ways laser systems are used in a variety of industries. Please know, this is not an exhaustive list. We work with customers from just about every industry imaginable to help them apply laser processing to support and strengthen their business.

Laser Maintenance 101


Laser systems are a large investment. Especially the good ones. And just like any other investment, laser systems come with some responsibility. Routine maintenance provides two key benefits:

  1. Keeps the laser system running properly and producing parts to the best of its ability
  2. Prolongs the life of the system components to increase ROI

Paying attention to maintenance supports both the well-being of the laser machine and the quality of the items it helps to produce. 

The best part? Laser systems are pretty simple to maintain.

On the whole, there’s very little maintenance required. But, by completing the little bit of maintenance there is, owners and operators can help decrease the chance to have costly CO2 laser repair services. 



Without proper settings or with heavy use, the optics of the laser system can become contaminated with smoke or debris. And when they’re dirty, they can cause poor focusing and reduce the power of your laser. These problems lead to diminished cutting and engraving quality. 

Left unattended, dirty optics can lead to cracked and burned lenses. If that happens, not only will you have to stop processing, you’ll have to purchase replacement parts too. But this can all be prevented with a bit of routine maintenance.

Optics are one of the most critical parts of the laser system, so give them adequate care in your maintenance schedule.  


If temperature controlled water isn’t circulating through the laser source, you run the risk of overheating the laser tube. In other words, it can put you on the fast track toward laser failure, unnecessary downtime and ultimately a costly repair. 

By properly maintaining the chiller, which mainly means keeping it clear of debris and replacing the water every six months or so, you’ll help to preserve the laser tube and the laser’s output power. 

You can learn more about laser chiller maintenance in these videos I put together a little while back. They feature maintenance tips for our Polyscience and S&A chilling units.

At the end of the day, a little attention to the chiller can help to extend the longevity of your laser system and prevent downtime. 


Another important area of the laser system that deserves some consideration is the motion system mechanics. The x-axis rail guides need to be oiled regularly — this ensures the gantry has a friction-free path to move quickly during processing. The y-axis also consists of linear guide bearings that need lubrications to prevent premature failure. These efforts will keep the moving parts of your laser system from wear. 


Laser system ownership comes with the responsibility of care and maintenance. The manual that came with your laser system should include maintenance directions, as well as a maintenance schedule. It is always best to follow the manufacturer’s directions as it relates to maintenance. 

It’s also important to note maintenance requirements are typically based around hours of operation, so whether your system is running on one, two or three shifts per day will impact its maintenance schedule. So will the cleanliness of your shop and the materials you process most often. 

Proper system maintenance will help protect your purchase, and decrease the chance for costly laser repairs.