Rotary Engraver vs. Laser Engraver: Which Method is the Best?

Engraving on goods serves many functions. It can be used to personalize or customize an item at the point of sales, but it can also serve as a tool for documentation or traceability in the production floor. It’s even possible for products nowadays to have engraved bar codes or QR codes as a way to embed them permanently with digital data.
Until a few decades ago, engraving work had to be done manually in an old-fashioned workhorse. We have more automated choices nowadays that are much more reliable. Two methods have risen to prominence – rotary engravers and laser engravers. What’s the difference between the two and which of them is better?
Rotary Engraver
How does it work?

Rotary engravers rely on computer numeric control (CNC) technology . More specifically, a rotary engraver is a CNC mill. The cutting tool is mounted on a rotating spindle that moves in the x, y, and z axes via stepper motors through a computer-aided algorithm.
The choice of material for the cutting tool depends on the type of material being worked on, but there is a wide range of options available from carbide to diamond. Carbide tips are used in rotating tools and are preferred for creating cuts with greater depth and a wider tool path. Diamond tips, on the other hand, simply only glide across a surface to produce more subtle marks with minimal dust and a narrow tool path.
When rotary engravers were first introduced, they quickly revolutionized the industry of marking and engraving. No longer did craftsmen need to use a copyslide as a template for manually tracing characters. Text and designs were instead inputted into computer software which automatically directed the movement of the cutting tool. With less time and labor requirements, rotary engravers drastically increased the output of traditional engraving processes.
Versatile applications
Despite representing a massive jump in technology, the mechanism of a rotary engraver is actually pretty simple – a rotating tool simply cuts away some of the material in a highly controlled manner. This makes rotary engraving a suitable technique for virtually any material. Although rotary engravers are typically used in coated and non-coated metals, applications on wood and plastic are also common. Unlike laser engravers, rotary engravers do not require the use of special plastics or acrylics.
Simple to maintain
Rotary engravers will inherently require more frequent maintenance than laser engravers. After all, its cutting tool comes in direct contact with the workpiece, resulting in gradual wear and tear. However, the maintenance of a rotary engraver is typically simple and straightforward. In most cases, all it takes is a sharpening of the cutting tool or an outright tool change. This is a quick operation that does not require a lot of skill.
Less expensive
Nowadays, CNC technology is so common that even...