Are laser engravers loud? The telltale answer is not really – they’re somewhere between normal human conversation and the sound of a coffee grinder. Still, if people are conversing for extended periods right next to you, or your coffee grinder keeps perpetually going, it will likely be annoying. We’ll talk a little about the history of laser engraving, how it works, how loud it gets, and what to do about it.
Let’s start with a bit of history of laser engraving. Laser engraving is simply the cutting or carving of a design by a laser onto hard or thicker material. The type of laser that the engraver uses is simply a hyper-focused beam of light.
General Engraving Process
Before we get into laser engraving, let’s talk about the story of the general engraving process. As a historical artifact, engraving is quite ancient, dating back as long as 500,000 years ago. Think of cave art, then go back even further to ancient hominids carving symbolic representations onto stones to differentiate them from one another.
As we zoom in on time and see the development of engraving unfold over history, in the 1400s, during the Middle Ages, artisans began engraving wood with paint or ink. Then came Guttenberg and his groundbreaking invention, the printing press, and the world started to unfurl with possibilities. Fast-forward to the modern-day, and we have printers, woodwork, and other crafts that use engraving methods.
The Invention of the Laser Engraver
Now we can discuss the invention of the laser engraver. They are used to cut, etch, mark, or engrave hard materials for decoration and personalization. Highly concentrated beams of light – essentially beams of pure energy – allow the energetic waves to come into complete alignment for a consistent level of pure power.
This allows the energy to focus on a specific point. Extrapolating from this, we can deduce how laser engravers work: they are so powerful that they can cut through hard surfaces and do this through computer automation.
The typical materials associated with laser engravers are metal, wood, and glass. The computer calibrates the laser to have the correct power-to-focus ratio, and voila! It cuts right through the hard surface.
Laser engravers are often used for logos and other symbols of personalization. The designs are pre-made, so all the laser beam has to do is trace them. Obviously, the only way it can do so with near-total precision is through automation, particularly automated software preprogrammed for this precision. Laser power varies with the type of material. There’s a process to remove the residue, and the engraving is finished.
In terms of volume level (in the physics of sound, known as amplitude or height-wise length of sound-energy waves), laser engravers can get mildly loud, but nothing that would affect your hearing substantially. It’s also cool to think about how the particles of sound and the particles of light interact in various ways, knowing that they’re both just different forms of energy.
The loudness of laser engravers can also vary by type, size, and materials being engraved. What makes laser engravers loud isn’t the laser itself; it’s the accessories like air pump, chiller and exhaust fan.
There are also different lasers: fiber, diode, and CO2. The different types make different sounds and have different amplitude levels. For instance, a CO2 laser has a higher power output than a fiber laser or diode laser, so it will make more noise.
Laser engravers that cut metal and wood are likely to be louder than those that cut, say, acrylic or cardboard. That’s because metal and wood are highly concentrated materials, so there’s more volume of material to incise.
Ready to start your laser engraving journey without breaking the bank then have a look at our buying guide: Best Laser Engravers Under $500
Laser engravers can reach about 75 dB (decibels), which is about 15 dB louder than a normal conversation, which is around 60 dB. Decibels are the fundamental unit of amplitude measurement.
Laser engravers are noticeably softer when they’re idling or not in use, operating at the 55-65 dB level. Still, anything from 55-75 dB is audible, slightly more so than normal human speech, so noise can be of concern to some. For that reason, it’s probably best to use noise-canceling headphones.
If you want to measure the noise levels of laser engravers, use a decibel meter. This standard device is used across the board for any loudness measurements for virtually any device or setting.
The OSHA (Occupational Safety Health Administration) recommends that noise levels not exceed 90 dB over eight hours in any work environment. In this way, laser engravers do not pose any risk of damage to your hearing.
If you’re truly affected by the noise level of laser engravers, there are two main ways to reduce their intensity:
Design your office or workspace so that soundproofing insulation materials soak up the sound more efficiently. What types of insulation materials should you use? Sound insulation felts/felt walls are a definite must. These felts soak up the sound the same way sponges absorb water, nullifying any excessive sound concerns.
While these primarily offer some protection against fumes, gases, and various harmful particles when a laser engraver is used on certain materials they also serve as essentially “noise reduction boxes.” The right materials for your enclosure definitely make a difference. We recommend plastic panels covered by textile materials.
There are a few ways to maintain laser cutters and engravers for maximum longevity/shelf life. One is to use a vacuum to remove the debris and residue that happens naturally from engraving any given material. Another is to dampen a cloth with any kind of all-purpose cleaner and clean the working table and other components of the engraver. Then, wait until the engraver dries. The engraver is now safe to use again and again.
By maintaining your laser engraver and providing good upkeep, you will keep its internal mechanics running smoothly and efficiently, and the water chiller as well as other cooling system components will whir with the proper speed and power.
Are Laser Engravers Loud – FAQ
The answer to this question is pretty much: not that loud, but they can be around the noise level of a coffee grinder (70-80 dB). They usually function at 15 dB above the normal range of human conversation when they’re in use. However, it may be slightly intrusive if you’re particularly sensitive to sound levels. You also have to consider the exhaust fan, air compressor, and fume extractor as well.
You can reduce the noise level of your laser engraver through insulation/soundproofing and enclosures.
You can measure the noise level of your laser engraver through a decibel meter.
Regular maintenance – cleaning and oiling the laser machine’s internal mechanical parts – allows it to function optimally, primarily allowing the cooling system to do its job, which modulates the noise level.
Even though Laser Engravers don’t produce loud noises, they do make a moderate level of noise when they’re operating, and depending on a variety of factors like the material’s characteristics and the level of detail, especially for engraving jobs.
It should be located somewhere where there won’t be any issues with the smell from the material or noise levels that are approximately comparable to a vacuum cleaner or coffee grinder. In some environments, even low amounts of smell and noise can cause disruptions.