According to IPC (institute of printed circuits), the value of the total created PCBs in USA in 2011 October stood at $24 billion. With the passage of time, the dependence of our society has increased on electronics manifolds. Subsequently, the use of PCBs has increased rapidly over the years.
Understandably, the marking of the PCBs is a compulsory requirement for all PCB manufacturers/vendors. Marking of PCBs give authenticity to the PCB and helps in increasing sales for the PCBs and making a market presence.
Currently, there are multiple methods of marking a PCB that are widely used in the industry. These methods include Ink markings, Stamps, Stickers and Laser Marking Technique, to mention a few methods. Although, different manufacturers use different methods as they have different priorities for cost, quality and time of labelling. But we will show it to you that laser marking machines stand out from all other methods as they offer the cheapest, most effective, easy to use and long-lasting PCB labels among all others.
Benefits of PCB Laser Marking over Chemical/Sticker Marking
Let’s have a brief look at the major benefits of using a PCB laser marking machine over other contemporary methods of labeling.
Laser marking of PCBs cost substantially lower than the same amount of labeling done by ink/chemicals. According to estimates, the bulk labeling of PCBs can cost $ 0.02 per marking with laser marking machine as compared to the $ 0.07-0.09 per marking cost with Ink labels.
Thus, PCB laser marking can substantially reduce the cost of labeling for PCB manufacturers.
Clarity of Label
The final results of PCB marking are substantially different for Ink/Stickers and Laser markings. The ink/sticker marks are not very clear and can create issues during manual or scanner reading. On the other hands, the laser markings on PCBs create crystal clear markings that are easy to read by the naked eye and digital scanners.
Inked marking or sticker marking of PCBs is a semi-auto to manual process which requires a considerable amount of manual labor and expertise. In comparison, the laser marking of PCBs is a fully-automated process that saves time and labor and produces highly efficient results.
Easy to Use
In addition, the PCB laser marking machines are extremely easy to use. The fully automated process helps you deal with the marking process like any other conveyor processing system. The fully-automated conveyor system makes it possible for you bulk-print your PCBs just by the click of a single button.
The longevity of the Marking
Ink markings and stickers tend to lose their illegibility over time. Thus, PCBs that are older than a few years have markings that are hard to read. Whereas, the laser marking is permanent and is still very clear after ten to fifteen years of use.
Thus, it is highly recommended for the PCB manufacturers to use laser marking techniques for long-lasting markings.
Environment-Friendly Marking Scheme
Most of the marking inks that are generally used for PCB markings are not environment-friendly. As a result, it poses a grave danger to the environment to mark PCBs using hazardous inks. Whereas, when you use the laser marking methodology for PCBs, you are creating an environment-friendly marking scheme.
The Process of PCB Laser Marking
Marking the PCB is a regulatory requirement on PCBs. Though as a PCB manufacturer you can use multiple methods for marking the PCBs, the best and most effective among all the methods is the laser marking method.
The process of laser marking PCBs involves the movement of the PCB under a low powered laser beam that causes gradual discoloration of the areas under focus. With the highly-efficient laser marking machines, you can select the exact numbers and the QR code or barcode that you want to mark the PCBs with.
Once the PCB is passed under the laser, it causes the area under focus to become decolorized, giving rise to oxidation of the underneath surface. The oxidized area turns black and appears clearly against the background color of the PCB plate.
Things to look for in a PCB Laser Marking Machine
A few of the factors that you need to look at while selecting the Laser marking machines are as follows:
The Type of Laser Used
While selecting a laser marking machine it is extremely important to determine the type of laser being used in the machine. Subsequently, the printing quality of the machine is directly dependent on the type of laser used in the machine.
Generally, the categorization of the laser types and their associated marking capabilities are summarized below.
You can select the type of laser you want depending on your requirements and the type of PCBs you want to mark.
The software is one of the most important features of a PCB laser marking machine. The major features to check for in software are:
- The customizability of the Templates
Each laser marking machine comes with some built-in templates of marking schemes that are used in different parts of the world. Before finalizing a machine, you can confirm with the vendors about the templates available in the machine. Thus, once you are satisfied that the template that you will be using most frequently is present there, you can go ahead with the deal. Checking the customizability of the templates is important as you might want to add features of your choice in the labeling process. Hence, make sure that your software is customizable enough.
- Real-time Monitoring of the Marking Process
While you want to keep a check of the actual happenings inside the laser marking machine its best to choose a machine that has a live feed option. These machines offer you the real-time display of what’s going on inside with the PCB.
- Barcode Readability Feature
Nowadays, laser marking machines come with the feature of reading the QR code once the PCB has been labeled. Make sure that you select the machine with this feature as it will make the quality control process of the PCBs extremely easy.
- Auto-adjusting and Position Pick-up Feature
Make sure that the machine’s software has an auto-adjusting feature. Otherwise, the PCB alignment will become a major headache for you during batch labeling. Furthermore, the auto-adjustment feature will help you save time and rework on wrongly labeled PCBs.
In addition, the auto position pick-up feature will let your software recognize which side of the PCB is up and which one is the downside. As a result, your workload will be reduced substantially.
- Internet Connectivity and Compatibility
Be sure to select a machine with software that is compatible with the different features of your operating system. This will help you in updating your software when required and also incorporating minor changes in-house.
You can spend sufficient time in checking the software features of the laser marking machines before you finalize the one that you need.
If you wish, we at HeatSign can help you out in the selection of the ideal machine with the aptest software for your needs.
Type of Laser Head
Another major feature to look for while selecting a PCB laser marking machine is the number of heads installed.
- Single Head Laser
Single head laser machines allow you to mark the PCBs on one side. You can choose which side you want to mark first and then insert the PCB accordingly. Then afterward you will have to insert the PCB flipping its side and inserting to mark the other side of the PCB.
- Double Head Laser
If you want to mark your PCB on both sides simultaneously, you will have to use the double head laser. In the double-headed laser, there are 2 independent lasers that mark the PCB from both sides simultaneously, saving you time and cost.
HeatSign’s PCB Laser Marking Machines
Now we come to the question of the best laser marking machines in the market. Thus, here are the top supplier for laser marking machines that are available in the market.
HeatSign is one of the top suppliers of laser marking machines for PCBs. The machines supplied are of the highest quality and fulfill the international standards of IEC and IPC. You can check out our collection of laser marking machines here.
Furthermore, we at HeatSign can also deliver the laser marking machines for PCBs to the furthest corners of the planet. All you have to do is select the marking machine that suits your needs and contact us. Our technical staff will guide you through the rest of the procurement procedure.
Also, we are available 24/7 to solve problems with your machines. We also provide remote assistance and will guide you to the right contact person for the problem you are facing. Thus, you can order from HeatSign and then relax for the rest of your days.
Summing up, PCBs have become a core component of all electronic items in use today. And the number is increasing day by day. Moreover, PCB manufacturers and vendors are required to mark each and every PCB with an apt marking sign as described in the relevant IPC standards. This is extremely important for PCB manufacturers as it determines the quality of the PCB and its manufacturing process. Thus, the need for proper marking of the PCBs exists. You can label a PCB in multiple ways, including ink, stamps, stickers or laser marking.
As you can see that laser marking of the PCBs have its own benefits that make the laser marking technique as the number one in terms of quality, time and cost-effectiveness. Thus, you should choose a laser marker for PCBs that suits your needs and scale of business the best.
As a result, HeatSign can help you find the ideal laser marking machine for your PCBs. So don’t waste any time and contact HeatSign for an informed decision on procuring the laser marking machine for PCBs