A laser marking system is made up of different methods suitable for marking different materials under any capacity. These methods are accurate, and they produce permanent markings.
Laser marking methods are popular industrially and are suitable for marking different products. One form of marking popular nowadays is coding and it involves inscribing codes such as barcodes, dates, serial codes, etc., on products. This procedure, when used via a laser marking system, is called laser coding. It is a little different from the normal laser marking process, you know, even though it makes use of the same machines. This article will introduce laser coding, what a laser coder is, and how to choose the right laser coding machine. Intrigued? Continue scrolling down.
Marking and Coding: Advent of the Laser Coding Machines
The first marking/coding techniques were developed to show expiration dates on foods and pharmaceutical items. However, nowadays, almost every product has a marking to show identification or traceability. Aside from the identification, coding ensures a form of security. Consequently, marking/coding is an important quality program in many industries.
Coding Techniques Before the Advent of Laser Coders
Prior to the advent of laser coders or laser coding machines, other techniques were being used for coding. Examples of top techniques used include:
· Thermal Transfer Coding
This technique involves using a thermal transfer coder to print information on the product package using heat. The heat leads to the transferring of the ink on a ribbon that marks the package. With a thermal transfer coder, you can code date, manufacturing line information, barcodes, serial codes, etc., on a product’s surface.
· Mechanical Embossing Systems
This technique involves creating a mark on a product by stamping the code on the package. It is a slow technique and not popular with those that value production efficiency.
· Ink-Jet Printing Systems
This technique involves creating a mark on a product package by passing ink at high speed using a printer. Marks created ranges from simple date coding to logos, barcodes, and serial codes. After the advent of laser coding machines, inkjet printing was relegated to second place. Nevertheless, it is worth comparing with laser coding machines.
· Print-And-Apply Label Systems
This technique involves applying pressure-sensitive labels on packages. These labels operate based on thermal transfer technology and contain barcoded tracking and content information.
The above methods have huge advantages making them useful in different scenarios. However, technological advancement led to the development, use, and preference for laser marking machines in coding.
What is Laser Coding?
Laser coding involves the use of laser marking methods such as ablation, engraving, etching, etc., to inscribe codes on an object. The technology involved produces accuracy and permanent markings, making it superior in many aspects to the methods listed above.
Laser ablation involves using a laser marking machine to remove materials from a package surface. For example, ablation is in the removal of ink by first converting it to vapor and removing it on the product surface. Laser engraving involves using laser beams to remove part of the surface of a material for the inscription of codes. All the laser marking processes used for laser coding are of high quality and will produce a highly readable and quality code.
How Does a Laser Coder Work?
There are two common types of laser marking in the laser coding system: vector and the dot matrix concept.
· Vector marking
Vector marking is a concept that produces codes of high quality. However, you have to sacrifice speed and energy efficiency when working with it. It involves the creation of graphics using two rotating mirrors and a focusing lens. The lens is turned on and off, and the beam slowly creates the image.
· Dot-matrix marking
Images produced by this concept have lower resolution. Due to this, the marking method is faster. Codes created using this concept are created by a laser going through a spinning polygon which then passes the laser beam to a water-cooled dump.
Advantages of Laser Coding Technique
If you compare laser coding to the previous techniques used before, you will notice something special about its nature. This special thing makes many people prefer using laser coding to the others. Below are a few advantages of the process:
· Ease of Operation
Machines used for laser coding are easier to operate than other techniques. For example, technology has allowed manufacturers to reduce the size of laser marking machines. Therefore, we now have portable laser marking machines that are industrially capable while being easy to carry about and mark.
· Permanent and High-Quality Markings
Laser coding leads to permanent and high-quality markings. Therefore, many industries, for example, the food and automotive industries, use it for digital data entry and permanent coding. The markings are suitable for coding as it does not require a contrast for visibility.
· Compatibility with a Wide Range of Materials
Laser coding machines are also compatible with a wide range of materials. This adds to the versatility of the coding solution. Currently, they are suitable for inscribing codes on paper labels, printed cardboard painted metal, ABS, glass, etc.
· Easy Integration
Laser coders are easy to integrate into assembly lines. This is based on the size of the machine, the cost of integration, and the environmental effect of such a decision. When compared to other techniques such as the CIJ system, laser coding has a lesser cost of operation. This is because of the absence of consumables cost and low maintenance evident in the CIJ system.
· Coding Efficiency
Laser coders also have other technical benefits. For example, there is variable dot-matrix coding density and size, adjustable and programmable pixel size, etc. You can also print code in 900 of the direction of motion. You can also code on stationary or moving packages.
Unlike the CIJ system, laser coders are easy to operate and require low maintenance. For example, unlike the CIJ print systems, there are no ink leaks and splashing. Also, there is no dependent on their parties for ink and parts with a concern for the originality of ink and compatibility with products.
Types of Laser Coding Machines
Laser coding machines are the same as laser marking machines. Although, by coding, there is a way laser coding machines are used. For effective laser coding processes, there are four types of laser marking machines you could use for laser coding.
· Fiber Laser Marking Machine
Fiber laser marking machines are suitable for coding on several materials. They are compatible with materials such as metals, plastics, and glass. They are the typical laser coders used not only because of their wide material compatibility but their cost-effectiveness and quality markings.
· CO2 Laser Marking Machine
CO2 laser marking machine is a powerful laser coder suitable for coding on nonmetallic materials. Examples of CO2 laser marking machines you could use are the HS-CL20, HS-CL30, HS-9060. You could check our page on how they work, their advantages, and the best one to use.
· UV Laser Marking Machine
The UV laser marking machine is a good laser coder for plastic products. It is also suitable for coding metals and glasses.
· Green Laser Marking Machine
The green laser marking machine is also suitable for marking heat-sensitive materials such as plastics. This is because it operates at 532nm, which reduces the tendency of its burning heat-sensitive materials.
How to Choose a Suitable Laser Coding Machine
As we mentioned before, high-speed coding and marking equipment are used in numerous ways. For example, the high-speed laser engraving machine, fiber laser, and CO2 laser engraving are suitable for mass production coding and marking. They are suitable for high-speed engraving and marking auto parts, medical tools, packaging, and electronics. Most of them are portable laser marking machines with industrial attributes. Below are factors that are important when choosing a laser coder.
· Stable And Flexible Design
The laser coding machine must have a stable and flexible design. Therefore, it will be easy to adapt to different product sizes and deliver an efficient marking.
· Batch Code Support
The chosen laser marker must have an integrated software system that supports the creation of codes in a batch coding system. For example, the Online Flying Fiber Laser Marker HS-FLY30/HS-FLY5 is an efficient batch coding machine that a laser coder must emulate. This will reduce human error in the creation of multiple codes and improve the production efficiency of the project.
This is an important question that you must answer before choosing a laser coder. The right laser coding machine must provide optimum performance at an optimum cost. Do note that when choosing a laser coding machine, you must not sacrifice quality for cost.
· High-Speed Marking
The ideal laser marker must code at a very high speed without compromising speed for quality. As one knows, regular-type laser engraving machines usually have moving heads attached to a guide rail. Normally, the construction of this sort allows one to cover a large working area. However, this design often makes machines work slow and not efficient.
As a solution to the matter, one might introduce a high-speed laser marker that adopts a galvo laser head to output laser. This system is popular as it can deliver high-speed marking effectively and efficiently. Benefits of using a high-speed marking machine include;
- Quality and durable laser source can stabilize and improve output while it continues to work for a long time.
- The product has much more effective cooling and boasts longer operation
- Highly focused beams which produce better mark contrast
- The appliance consumes less power compared to the older product’s variations
- High-speed communication provides faster data delivery and guarantees the improved character formation
- Easy to operate software can support good image marking by this machine
- The led indicator lighter support setting of a focal distance
- Offers big area content marking
- Automatic marking process
Laser coding machines offer a lot of benefits. For example, with them, you can easily print your codes. They are also highly durable and easy to operate. This article introduced laser coding machines and the benefits of using one. Are you looking for a laser coding machine that can deliver quality markings? Why not go through our recommended machines or contact us. We at HeatSign are your best bet against the uncertainty in the market.
How Much Does Laser Marker Cost?
Unlike other marking machines, laser markers are a little bit costly. However, this depends on the type of laser markers you are looking for. For example, the HS-PFL20 20W Portable Handheld Laser Engraver cost around $2900 ~ $4900 while the HS-FL20 20W Fiber Laser Marking Machine cost around $3200 ~ $6000. When choosing a laser marker, ensure that you have one that can deliver quality without compromising on price.
What is Fiber Laser Marking Machine?
A fiber laser marking machine is a laser marking machine compatible with materials such as metals, plastics, and glass. They have wide material compatibility and are also cost-effective while delivering quality markings. Examples of fiber laser marking machines include; HS-FL10, HS-FL20, and HS-FL30A.