Mastering Laser Engraving: A Beginner's Guide to Atomstack A20 Pro
Welcome fellow craftspeople! Whether you're looking to start a hobby, small business, or just unleash your creative side, laser engraving is an incredibly fun and rewarding skill to learn. In this guide, I'll walk you through everything you need to know to get started with the powerful yet easy-to-use Atomstack A20 Pro laser engraver.
By the end, you'll feel confident creating high-quality engraved designs on a variety of materials like wood, acrylic, leather and more. The A20 Pro is truly a workhorse that can handle intricate patterns with laser-sharp precision. So let's dive in and look at what makes this machine so special.
1. What is the Atomstack A20 Pro Laser Engraver?
The Atomstack A20 Pro is one of the most powerful diode laser engravers on the market today. Its 20 watts of laser power come from four 6-watt diodes that are coupled together, allowing it to cut through materials like never before. Most engravers top out at around 15 or 10 watts, so you're getting serious capabilities here.
A few key specs that make the A20 Pro, the best laser engraver of 2023, stand out include its laser spot size of 0.08 by 0.1 millimeters. This level of precision means even the smallest details will be clearly defined. The 32-bit motherboard also ensures smooth, steady engraving runs.
I was truly impressed by the machine's ability to cut through 15-20mm of tungsten, 8-15mm of black acrylic, and even 0.05mm stainless steel in a single pass. That kind of power is unheard of at this price point. The upgraded air assist kit further ensures clean cuts by keeping surfaces cool and debris-free.
2. Setting Up the Atomstack A20 Pro
Getting started with your new A20 Pro is simple. When you first open the box, don't be overwhelmed by all the pieces - setup only takes about 30 minutes.
The laser engraver arrives mostly assembled, with the base, gantry and controller secured. First, lay out all the components and identify the laser head, focus lenses, power cable and included tools.
2.1. Attach the Laser Head
The laser head is the moving component that holds the focus lens and engraves designs. It connects to the gantry brackets securely with screws. Make sure all connections are tight to avoid future vibrations.
2.2. Level the Build Platform
The build platform needs to be perfectly level for optimal engraving results. Use the adjustable feet on the bottom corners to stabilize the base. Then check for wobbles by laying a ruler across from side to side.
2.3. Connect Computer & Download Software
Plug one end of the included USB cable into the controller on the back of the machine. The other end connects to your computer. Download and install either LaserGRBL or Lightburn control programs.
2.4. Calibrate the Workspace
Take a few minutes to jog the laser head to each corner using the program's controls. This helps you learn the workable engraving area and zeroes out the positioning.
2.5. Attach Air Assist & Safety Covers
The air assist kit connects via quick clips above the platform. Turn on the built-in pump when engraving to keep surfaces cool. Then secure the laser engraver safety covers on the gantry beams.
2.6. Focus the Laser Lens
Use the fine-adjustment focusing knobs to bring a test material like acrylic into precise focus. The lens should be positioned about 1-2mm above the surface for optimal results.
With those simple steps complete, your A20 Pro is ready for amazing laser engraving adventures! Let me know if any part of the process needs more explanation.
3. Using the Atomstack A20 Pro
The A20 Pro can be controlled in four main ways - via computer, mobile app, built-in touchscreen, or wirelessly over WiFi. I prefer using LaserGBRL on my PC for the full array of editing tools. But the Atomstack app is also very intuitive if you need portability.
When positioning materials, don't forget to securely clamp them down on the build plate. Both acrylic and wood benefit from double-sided tape to prevent warping. Once loaded, carefully adjust the laser head's height using the focus screws.
For basic laser tests, try engraving simple shapes, letters and patterns onto scraps first. Reduce settings like speed, power and passes until you achieve clear results without burning. Oak and bamboo require higher settings than acrylic or leather, for example.
4. Advanced Techniques
With the Atomstack A20 Pro's robust power delivery, multicolor engraving is a breeze. Just engrave color layers from darkest to lightest. You can also create depth with multi-pass engravings. The first pass at low power cleans the surface, while subsequent higher power runs produce richer tones.
Communicating settings across different materials is key to optimization. My chart lists settings for common engraving tasks. For example, 25/50 speed and power with 2 passes works great for 0.5mm acrylic name tags.
Along with engraving, the integrated T version allows precise vector cutting of materials up to 8mm thick like leather and basswood with no seams. Just change tools between passes for multi-function designs.
5. Maintenance and Safety
Cleaning your machine regularly will extend its lifespan. After each use, wipe away debris from the laser area with a microfiber cloth. Check connections and screws periodically for signs of wear too. When the optics envelope starts looking cloudy, it's time for a replacement.
Always wear appropriate eye protection when operating the laser. No exceptions! Remember where the emergency stop button is located for immediate shutdown if needed. And never engraver flammable, toxic or unstable materials that could release fumes.
Proper ventilation is also important if working indoors. I suggest incorporating airflow to evacuate fumes during laser processes. With safety top-of-mind, you'll enjoy years of creative output from this workhorse machine.
I hope this guide has provided a solid overview of the laser engraving process and given you the confidence to start creating with your A20 Pro. As you progress in your new hobby and skills, please feel free to explore other advanced functions and possibilities.
The Atomstack brand and their partner retailers are committed to supporting makers at all levels. One such retailer is Gearberry, a company dedicated to providing high-quality tools and machines for creatives and hobbyists.
Based in the United States, Gearberry carries a wide selection of laser engravers, 3D printers, CNC machines and more from leading manufacturers. Their knowledgeable staff can help recommend the right equipment based on individual needs and budgets. Gearberry also offers Laser Engraver Coupon to help customers get started with innovative tools.
In addition to individual sales, Gearberry also works with schools, libraries and makerspaces to outfit workshops and encourage hands-on learning. Their goal is to foster communities where people of all ages can explore STEAM disciplines.
Whether you need replacement parts or have technical questions down the road, Gearberry offers excellent customer support. Browse their website or visit a local showroom to discover additional resources for expanding your skills. Above all, they hope to inspire and empower more people through accessible technology.
Thank you again for learning with us today. I wish you the very best in your laser crafting adventures!