Laser marking is the process of labeling or ‘marking’ on certain materials using a laser machine. How the materials are marked depends on the application and the programming you use. Laser marking is the broad term used in this industry.
Categories of laser marking include removing, cutting, staining, foaming, annealing, etching, or engraving. Each process has its upsides and downsides, but they are used according to the material being marked on.
Three Benefits of Laser Marking
- Consistent Quality with High Precision – Highly precise marking with consistent quality are earmarks of laser marking. Even with the most delicate of projects, lasers mark with amazing clarity that is has yet to be matched. Even if you must use the 1-point font size, the image or text will be clearly legible. Besides this unmatched clarity, laser marking is also known for its constant and consistent quality results.
- High-Speed Marking – The marking and coding industry deals in many fast-paced applications, which is one reason laser marking is so desired. Laser marking machines are capable of some of the fastest marking abilities in the market today. High-speed marking results in optimal productivity across industries where marking is important. Depending on what materials are being marked, laser marking machines can be programmed with increased speed.
- Marking Durability – Laser etching, a form of marking, is a permanent process that is resistant to abrasion, acids, and heat. Lasers can be programmed to etch on surfaces without causing damage to the material.
Materials that Can Be Marked with Laser Technology
- Metals like stainless steel, alloy steels, anodized aluminum, brass, precious metals, coated metals, gold, silver, aluminum, copper, platinum, bronze, and titanium can be marked or engraved with batch numbers, traceability codes, product numbers, serial numbers, and more
- Plastics like PMMA, polyamide, plastics with laser additives, polyester, PET, silicone, polyethylene, POM, PSU, PPSU, PS, polycarbonate, and ABS can be marked with the non-contact method for fast, damage-free marking
- Miscellaneous materials such as laminates, paints, films, and foils can be marked to create things like nameplates, labels, and membrane keyboards
Types of Processes of Laser Marking
- Annealing Marking is a special kind of laser etching used for metals. The heat from the annealing process creates oxidation under the material’s surface, which produces a color change on the metal’s surface.
- Staininguses a heating effect that creates a chemical reaction in the material being marked. This process results in different shades of color. For instance, if light plastic substrate becomes discolored during the laser etching process, some soot particles can be produced, resulting in a darker marking.
- Engraving is when the material’s surface is melted and then evaporated via the laser. The laser beam actually removes the material, leaving an impression on the surface.
- Removing is where the laser removes top coats that are on the material. There is a contrast produced as a result. Coated metals, foils, films, laminates, and aluminums are the most common materials for this process.
- Foaming is when the laser beam melts the substrate, creating gas bubbles that reflect/diffuse light. This kind of marking comes out lighter than the areas left untouched.
- Carbonizing allows vivid contrasts on bright surfaces. The laser heats up the material’s surface, allowing hydrogen, oxygen, or a combination of these gases to emit from it. A darkened area is left behind due to carbon concentration.
This covered the primary benefits, materials, and types of processes used in laser marking. As this market continues to grow, more uses will be discovered, which will widen the industry as a whole.
For the latest in laser marking machines, you can contact Needham Coding.