Fiber laser markers are applicable in marking different materials. The machines are majorly suitable for metals, although with several tweaks you can tailor them to mark other materials. Below are a few materials you can draw inspiration from and the peculiar things about them when marking them with a fiber laser maker.
· Number #1: Aluminum
Aluminum is a material with wide industrial applications because of its lightweight and impeccable mechanical properties. Aluminum is highly compatible with fiber laser because it effectively absorbs fiber, reducing the marking lead time.
When marking an aluminum product, you should use a fiber laser marker with high laser power. As a result, this will generate more energy and increase the marking efficiency. At HeatSign, we would recommend you the HS-FL10 and HS-FL20
· Number #2: Plastics and Polymers
Industrial manufacturing industries use plastics such as ABS, nylon, Delrin, and polypyrene for product manufacturing. Each one has its unique properties, but in terms of laser marking, you need to take note of the following:
- Fume production: Do not use fiber laser marking machines for plastics that emit fumes. If you have to, you need to mark the correct environment with protective gear. An example of such plastics is polyvinyl chloride which emits chlorine, a very toxic gas. Furthermore, you can also choose a fiber laser marker with controlled laser power. We would recommend the HS-FL10 and HS-FL20
- Laser power: Plastics are very soft. As a result, you should be able to choose the right fiber laser marking machine. For example, most enthusiasts recommend using pulsed fiber lasers to produce high-contrast markings on plastic parts. Ensure that the laser power and pulse duration are tuned to the plastic part to reduce melting or translating from engraving to etching.
- Color: The intended marking color also depends on the laser power.
Generally, for plastic polymers, you should choose from the following. However, be sure to ensure that the laser power is tuned. You can check this by enquiring from tech enthusiasts or having a trial on a small plastic.
· Number #3: Silver and Gold
Laser engraving is a common marking technique in the jewelry industry due to its aesthetic quality. However, the technique needs a marking machine with the right precision and accuracy to reduce wastage. Furthermore, each material has peculiar properties related to marking, as silver can easily oxidize during marking, although gold is easier to mark.
Fiber laser markers’ accuracy makes them one of the most common laser markers for working with silver and gold. Although there are several types, the pulsed fiber laser, such as the HS-FL50, is the most recommended due to the metal’s highly reflecting surface.
Engraving silver and gold with fiber laser may not generate enough contrast. In that regard, you can use laser annealing machine. Aside from the contrast, annealing removes less material making it more suited for silver and gold.
· Number #4: Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is a popular material used in making parts in almost every industry. However, unlike most materials on this list, it has several types (or grades), each with different constituents in unique percentages. As a result, choosing the right fiber laser marker is very important.
Fiber lasers are suitable for marking stainless steel due to their high laser power. For example, the HS-FL50 makes stainless steel marking easier. Furthermore, stainless steel can efficiently absorb the wavelength of fiber lasers and color engraving with 16 to 32 colors depending on the chosen marking machine.
Engraving stainless steel can lead to the removal of chromium oxide protection. As a result, laser annealing is a better marking technique against engraving. It uses low power for an extended time and causes less damage which protects the chromium oxide layer and prevents corrosion.
· Number #5: Titanium
Titanium is often used in harsh environments, making the need for a high-quality and permanent laser marking machine paramount. Aside from that, titanium is applicable in different industries, and the chosen marking machine must deliver compatible markings. For example, in the medical industry, titanium is applicable as a surgical implant. As a result, markings must be sterile and durable. Another example is the aerospace industry which ensures that the parts do not suffer from fractures.
Fiber laser marking can produce permanent marking suitable for any titanium parts. Furthermore, like any laser marking technique, markings are sterile and, with controlled laser power, can not lead to structural damage.
Aside from engraving, other laser techniques you can use for marking titanium is annealing and ablation, depending on the application, proposed longevity, and condition of use. For example, the aerospace industry favors annealing because it limits structural damage.
· Number #6: Rubber
Black Rubber is a flexible material with high tear and abrasion resistance. It comes in different types, such as natural and silicone rubber, each compatible with fiber lasers due to their softness and high absorption rate.
Several fiber lasers are applicable for marking black rubber—for example, the HS-PFL20S/ HS-PFL30S. However, consider the speed and depth of markings when choosing one. The higher the laser power, the faster the marking process.
· Number #7: Non-semiconductor Ceramics
Non-semiconductor ceramics can be hard or soft, influencing the choice of laser marking machine. Generally, they are difficult to laser mark due to the incoherent absorption of the laser Nevertheless, fiber laser marking machines can provide the necessary markings on some ceramics. Aside from engraving, other possible technique includes laser etching, which gives the ceramic a darker yet clear and distinct mark.
· Number #8: Chrome
Chrome has high corrosion resistance making it an important material in electroplating other parts. Aside from that, it is also highly reflective. Due to its use, the choice of fiber laser marker depends on the laser power and plating thickness. Nevertheless, you should ensure that marking only affects the chrome and does not penetrate past the chrome plating.
· Number #9: Fiberglass and Carbon Fiber
Marking fiber-based materials such as fiberglass should be done with the right machine. This is because using the wrong laser technique or machine can disrupt the structural integrity of the fiber, leaving a blurry mark. On the other hand, carbon fiber is easier to mark, although you might experience contrast-issue due to the material and the marking having the same color.
· Number #10: Brass and Copper
Brass and copper have high thermal conductivity and heat transfer properties. As a result of their fast heat dissipation, they are perfect for fiber laser, which is known for their high heat generation. Furthermore, their heat dissipation prevents them from losing their structural integrity.
Engraving with machines such as the 20W fiber laser engraving machine allows you to engrave complex designs and patterns on brass and copper. However, note that the fiber laser’s wavelength (1.06 microns) is easily absorbed by brass, and copper does not efficiently absorb fiber laser light like other metals reducing the marking speed.
· Number #11: Synthetic Leathers
Synthetic leather is often used in making clothing accessories and automotive interiors. Because they are made of thermoplastic polymers, engraving using fiber lasers is easy. When marking synthetic polymers, it is important to use a low laser power due to the properties of the materials.
· Number #12: Tungsten and Carbide
Tungsten and Carbide are strong, extremely durable, and withstand many manufacturing processes. Because of the fast speed of fiber laser marking, this machine can engrave tungsten and Carbide without distorting their physical and chemical properties.
Engraving is possible for these materials but is often not recommended due to their hardness. The same goes for laser etching. Furthermore, Carbide has a darker color, and tungsten has a light color. As a result, care must be taken in selecting the right technique to achieve proper contrast.
· Number #13: Coated and Painted Metals
The coating helps to harden or protect metals from harsh environments. However, some can be for aesthetic purposes. Fiber laser markers are suitable for working with coated/painted materials. This produces a contrasting mark. However, it would be best if you were careful because some coatings may absorb the fiber wavelength, which is likewise reacted to by the underlying metal.
· Number #14: Nickel
Nickel is a material often used to cover Metal parts in nickel plating to protect them from corrosive substances. Nickel is one of the metals fiber laser light can penetrate easily, making it possible to mark at high speed.
You need to anneal or polish to shield the plating when laser marking. Also, carry out this process carefully to avoid piercing the plating and exposing the metallic material underneath. Lasers with low power and high pulse rates give better results.
Get the right fiber laser marking machine
Fiber laser marking is extremely versatile for creating precise marks on parts. They are compatible with several materials but are popular due to their high laser power. Do you need a fiber laser marking machine? Contact us or check our catalog.