The laser marking system is used for cost-effective branding, serialization and product tracking. It involves using laser beams to mark a surface with text, numbers, logos or patterns. A key aspect of knowing the advantages of laser marking machines is understanding how they work. Here is an extensive discussion on laser marking systems, how laser markers work, and how your business can grow and flourish thanks to their services.
What is Laser Marking System?
The laser marking system is a series of marking techniques that uses a laser beam to mark any surface with text, numbers, logos or patterns. The heat generated by the beam, depending on the laser technique and laser marker, causes a difference in color and texture on the surface while leaving it intact.
The laser marking system is generally non-contact, making it less invasive than other forms of marking, such as dot peen marking. As a result, it can provide excellent engraving or etching results without damaging much underlying material. It can be used for plastic, metal, wood and glass surfaces.
Laser Marking System and Compatible Materials
Unlike marking processes such as dot peen, the laser marking system is compatible with a wide collection of materials. Below are the compatible materials and the type of laser marking obtained.
· Laser Marking and Metals
Laser marking can be performed on metals using the following laser marking techniques. Each technique marks a specific feature; hence they have specific functions. Below are the common laser marking techniques in relation to metals and their characteristics.
– Laser Annealing Marking
In laser annealing, the laser marker generates a laser beam, which heats the surface where marks appear due to oxidation. The surface gets its colored appearance because of the composition and thickness of the oxide layer.
– Laser Etching Marking
This laser marking method removes coating or lacquer layers from the base material. For example, the ablation of the oxide layer of anodized aluminum exposes the metal beneath it. Due to the high temperatures ablation markers produce, they heat the surface past its vaporization point. While not damaging the base material, your marking pattern or text is visible.
– Laser Engraving Marking
This laser marking technique changes specular reflection by removing material from the surface. It mostly applies to metals. There is an optimal frequency and speed so that evaporation can occur for the material. Laser markers with short pulses and high peak power generally give the best results and are best suited for these applications.
· Laser Marking on Plastic
There are three techniques when marking a plastic material. They include
– Laser Foaming
In laser foaming, the laser machine beam heats the polymer to a given, so some elements begin to foam. Due to the volume change, the material bulges outward, producing clear and textured marks.
– Laser Color Change
The laser color change heats the plastic in precise spots and gets darker (e.g., carbonization) or lighter (e.g., bleaching). The exact outcome depends on the type and composition of the plastic or polymer.
Laser Marking and other materials
Aside from metals and plastics, the laser marking system is also compatible with other composite materials such as ceramic, paper, and wood using techniques such as laser engraving and laser annealing. Furthermore, the marking system is also compatible with parts with surface coatings.
Laser Marking Machine Types and Features
There are several laser marking machine types, each with unique mechanisms and compatible materials. Below are the three most popular laser marking machines;
· Fiber Laser Marking
Fiber laser marking machines are compatible with many materials, whether metals, plastics, or composite. They have a 1064nm wavelength and are better suited for metal marking. Furthermore, their high power makes them applicable in laser annealing and engraving. However, they cannot mark transparent objects like glasses because the laser beam will pass through without affecting them.
· UV Laser Marking
UV lasers or cold lasers have an absorptive wavelength of 355nm. They are called cold lasers due to the lesser heat dissipation during marking compared to the fiber laser marking systems and CO2 laser marking systems. They are suitable for making delicate parts and pieces of jewelry, and also suitable for glass and plastic.
· CO2 Laser Marking
CO2 laser marking machines have high wavelengths (about 10x the wavelength of standard wavelength systems). They are suitable for marking organic substances such as resins, paper, wood, rubber, and plastics. Unlike the fiber lasers, the CO2 laser marking system cannot mark metals due to the non-absorption of the laser light
How Does Laser Marking System Work?
Laser marking technology uses a beam to direct energy onto a surface, creating heat and causing changes in the material of the item being marked. The variations only occur in the material directly affected by the laser, leaving underlying materials intact.
This type of marking is used for engraving or etching permanent marks easily into materials such as metal, plastic, wood and glass. It can be used for product tracking, serialization and branding.
One of the most advanced is the fiber laser marking system. Fiber lasers use electric-laser lights to convert parts to focus light into a powerful laser. It starts with a powerful light. Depending on the machine, the laser focuses the light into a fine point that can be less than a millimeter wide.
The focus also helps to control the depth at which the mark is created so that you can mark even delicate products with something permanent but not damaging to whatever you’re marking.
Benefits of Laser Marking Technology
Laser marking technology is a cost-effective way to mark products with permanent marks that are difficult to alter or remove. It can be used for various applications and eliminates the need for manual marking, which can be time-consuming and expensive. Laser marking is fast, reliable, and produces permanent results that will last the life of your product. Also, laser marking does not produce any hazardous chemicals or create airborne particles, making it an ideal solution for eco-friendly branding needs.
Advantages of Laser Marking Over Traditional Methods
One of the biggest advantages of laser marking over traditional methods such as inkjet or pad printing is its permanence. Laser marks are permanent and won’t fade or wash off over time. It also eliminates the need for re-applying labels or labels with incorrect information due to human error. Also, laser marking can produce intricate designs and mark a range of materials, including metals, plastics, and ceramics, making it a versatile solution for many applications.
Types of Materials Suitable For Laser Marking
The list of materials suitable for fiber laser marking is extensive and includes metals such as steel, aluminum, titanium, copper, brass and stainless steel. Plastic materials like ABS, Acrylic and Nylon can also be marked with lasers. The CO2 laser can engrave all non-metallic materials such as leather, wood, label paper, etc. UV laser is more suitable for marking glass and plastic.
These are just some examples of the many materials that can be marked laser engraved or laser etched. Laser marking is also suitable for printing on other complex shapes, such as wires and tubes, making it an ideal tool for serializing or tracking products in a customized way.
Why Choose HeatSign Laser Marking Machine?
HeatSign’s machines can come with software developed specifically for our machines, giving you greater control and more options over your marking. Using our software, you can make our already accurate machines even more precise, controlling the outp power, content size, and extent you mark. This is especially good for instances where specific marks are vital to the engraving process, such as with metal tools, jewelry or other customized work. With full control over multiple metrics, you can create specially-designed marks that you make yourself. Then, those engravings can be created on nearly any surface for a permanent, lasting, perfect engraving every time.
Laser marking machines are no longer massive, thanks to advances in recent laser technology. Today, they can come in portable technology to allow for more versatility. Furthermore, they take up less space as well which increases the ease of storage
Whatever your business needs, laser marking machines from HeatSign use the latest technology to make intense, high-quality lasers that balance power and precision. The result is a way for companies to make custom engravings that help prevent forgery, put a custom stamp on their products, and help keep detailed inventories of what’s being made, for who, and how. If your company wants to do its custom engraving and marking in-house, a laser marking machine from Heat Sign will give you the edge you need.