Tech Breakdown: Emblaser 2
Laser cutters and engravers have transitioned from the “nice to have”, expensive industrial machine to the “must have” desktop appliance. With the introduction of the Emblaser 2, laser cutting and engraving could not be more affordable and accessible. However, most importantly, the Emblaser is fun to use and opens up a world of materials for industrial users, small businesses and makers alike.
Who is Darkly Labs?
The Emblaser 2 was developed and is manufactured by Darkly Labs, a Melbourne, Australia based company. Domenic Di Giorgio founded Darkly Labs in 2014 for the sole purpose of producing an affordable desktop laser cutter. Domenic took an innovative approach to funding, designing and manufacturing the Emblaser. This included the use of crowd-sourcing and 3D printing to get to market faster and at a lower cost. The company utilized 3D printing to build most of the components for the Emblaser, as it was the most cost-effective for producing low volumes of laser cutters. It was also a great solution when it came to making prototypes and parts.
The first iteration of the Emblaser was launched in 2014, selling over 800 units to hobbyists in the US, Asia, Australia and Europe. The latest model, the Emblaser 2 was released in March 2017. The Emblaser 2 is capable of cutting or engraving flat sheet materials such as paper, wood, plastic, and fabric. This versatility appeals to a broad range of users to include makers, educational institutions, and manufacturers.
The Emblaser 2 is a best in class cutting and engraving machine whose robustness is only equaled by its seamless ease of use. Notable features include:
- Class I Solid State Diode Laser
- Automatic Laser Optic Calibration
- Automatic Laser Height Set and Control
- Laser Enabling Switch
- Supported File Formats
- Workspace Camera
- WiFi Capability
- Materials Supported
Class I Solid State Diode Laser
The diode laser sports a wavelength of 445-455nm with a maximum average radiant power of five watts. The precision of light with a width of 100-150um ensures that cuts are made uniformly and evenly across the source raw material.
Automatic Laser Height Set and Control
Using the LightBurn software package for the Emblaser, adjustments for the laser height/offset and the source material are set automatically. Inputting information on the source raw material height and the height of the base cutting mats, the software makes the necessary adjustments for the optimal laser height and controls this throughout the cutting or engraving process.
Automatic Laser Optic Calibration
LightBurn includes an optic calibration wizard that sets the best focal length for the lens without having to use fixtures and gauges. This is a key ingredient of the ease of use claim for the Emblaser 2.
Laser Enabling Switch
For optimal safety, the laser is not enabled when the machine is first powered on. By utilizing a separate switch, the operator can turn the laser on and off anytime during use. Also, the laser can never operate whenever the lid is open.
Supported File Formats
The Emblaser 2 offers numerous vector file (cutting) and raster image (engraving) inputs to include the following.
- .ai - Adobe Illustrator
- .pdf - Adobe Portable Document Format
- .dxf - Drawing Exchange Format
- .svg - Scalable Vector Graphics
- .bmp - Bitmap
- .jpg/.jpeg - Joint Photographic Exports Group
- .png - Portable Network Graphics
- .gif - Graphics Interchange Format
- .tga - Truevision
This allows for maximum flexibility when working with source or design file exports.
The camera adds a nice feature for others to monitor the work remotely should there be a desire. However, for optimal safety, the Emblaser 2 should be monitored on-site continually during use.
WiFi capability allows for use of multiple machines without having to be tethered to a computing device. This maximizes the utility in a multi-machine or print farm environment.
The list of supported materials is extensive, with the laser cutter able to cut 10mm thick colored acrylic as well as thin fabrics. The following table highlights the most commonly used materials.
Set Up Considerations
Probably the most important safety consideration is to place the Emblaser 2 in a well-ventilated room away from flammable materials. The Emblaser 2 exhaust hose should be connected to an exterior vent (or hung from an open window) or attached to an interior air-filtration system. Extra add-ons would include a Fume Filtration System and an Air-Assist System. Remember that the fumes generated by the laser cutter/engraver are often toxic.
Lens maintenance and replacement is fairly straightforward but is an integral part to quality performance. The “blowback” from particulate often coats the lens with residue and the lens should be checked and cleaned once a week. Monthly maintenance includes cleaning the base mats and checking the filters on any interior filtration system. Every quarter, lubricate the rails if necessary and re-run the Optics Calibration Process.
Why Would You Want to Use This Product?
The selection of stock source material along with the ability to cut and engrave provides a foundation of capabilities that should excite any user. However, what makes the Emblaser 2 most appealing is its ease of use and the creative conversation it engenders. Support content and tutorials demonstrate the full potential of the Emblaser 2 and provide perspective on how to operate the machine effectively. You can visit the Darkly Labs page tutorials here.
Who Should Use This Product?
Anyone with creative instincts will be enamored with the Emblaser 2. The ability to cut fabrics with precision and to artistically engrave images on assorted materials is unsurpassed. The flip side is that businesses can make great use of the Emblaser 2 for signage and the cutting of acrylic for product components. Whatever the case, the Emblaser 2 should be an integral part of your arsenal of creative tools.
The Emblaser 2 provides the best “bang for the buck” of any desktop laser cutter and engraver on the market. Get one now and let your creative juices flow. You can see the Emblaser 2 here.
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