If you are just entering into the world of marking, you are coming in at a very opportune time.
This is because this industry has old and new technologies that together make marking a very interesting, beautiful and profitable undertaking.
And none of the technologies are as flexible and intriguing as fiber laser marking.
In this article, we are going to introduction the technology of Fiber Laser marking Machine, understand its scientific background, its applications, materials targeted and its challenges.
After reading this article, you should be able to discern how best to use this machine for your own applications.
Understanding Fiber Laser Marking
A fiber laser machine essentially has three main parts, including the pump, the resonator and the beam delivery system.
The pump comprises of laser diodes from which a light beam is emitted and transmitted through fiber optics to a resonator which contains what is known as the gain medium.
The resonator hosts the gain medium, which in simple terms is a fiber optics medium doped with rare earth elements.
The main differences between different fiber laser applications are based on the wavelengths produced, which determines the surfaces that each type can mark on.
Metal markers are mainly Ytterbium doped, giving them the wavelength that is needed for optimal absorptivity for material marking various metals and plastics.
The resonator combines the gain medium with a set of full and semi-reflecting bragg grating components, that allow for refraction, amplification and filtering light waves to get the right wavelength required for marking.
The filtered beam is then transmitted to the beam delivery system, which is simply a beam expander and a lens contained in a beam head. This is the ‘laser pen’ that does the marking
Flexibility is the main advantage of fiber laser marking, thereby making it the most preferred engraving and marking technique in the industry, due to its versatility in marking diverse materials.
The information marked can also be chosen freely, ranging from text, numbers, logos, codes, images and photos.
Color change is a common process used in Laser Marking.
The process provides high contrast labelling on any material without damaging its surface.
In this process, the laser heats the material at the precise intended areas, exciting atoms and vaporizing the required parts, thereby providing a high quality contrast color-change on the material.
Industrial Applications of Fiber Laser Marking Machine
The automotive industry has become one of the largest users of this technology. It is estimated that a car is made of roughly 30,000 parts, which are either made up of steel, aluminum, copper, special fiber or plastic, all varying in shape and size.
The following are some of the applications where part marking is achieved using a fiber laser marker in the automotive industry;
- Marking seat belt components with information such as country of origin, serial numbers and barcodes.
- Marking various components and button on the dashboard. These need to be well visible during the day and illuminated at night. Therefore, day and night markings are used.
- Other materials such as ceramics used to make spark plugs can also be marked using these method too.
You’ll also find Fiber Laser markings on engine blocks, automotive sensors, chassis VIN number and motorcycle parts.
One of the biggest concerns with markings in this industry is readability and traceability. Parts ought to be traced to their country of origins and markings be machine readable. It is for this reason Fiber Lasers have noted increased usage in the recent past.
Integrated Circuit Industry
Integrated circuit elements are the most important units used to build circuits and systems. The Fiber Laser marking machine can be used to make markings on Integrated Circuits boards and semiconductor components, including text and graphics.
No mechanical pressure is generated due to the non-contact processing mechanism. The laser beam is extremely thin hence can be integrated on small components including capacitors and crystal oscillators.
In such a fast-evolving industry, it is crucial that efficiency is prioritized and the need to match the ever-increasing demand. This demand also expects quality and safety too. TVs, Laptops and smartphones are all made up of tiny and small substances.
Fiber Laser marking is the most efficient for marking in this industry because of its ability to work with minute elements without damaging the surrounding material.
Health establishments and manufacturers of medical equipment are subject to very strict standards in terms of position, size and content of the marking, thereby leaving no room for error.
Markings must be resistant to cleaning with acid, corrosion and sterilization and high temperatures.
Tools may become smaller and process more efficient. But high quality and safety remain the foremost priorities in this industry. Fiber Lasers have therefore become popular for markings in this industry, considering quality, cost-effectiveness, speed, reliability and adaptability.
The following are some of the most common reasons why Fiber Laser markings are used in the medical industry;
- Traceability of Medical equipment: The internal medical personnel in health establishment need to be able to track and locate the medical devices in their hospitals. They should also be able to clearly read and make out each instrument through the sterilization process.
- Identification of medical prostheses: Medical prostheses need to have a medical number or logo based on alphanumeric series retrieved from a dedicated database.
- Traceability of Individual Biofluid Storage Containers.
Jewelry and Accessories Industry
Fiber Laser machines can be used on precious stones such as gold and silver to make markings. The reasons for making inscriptions on precious stone could be the following;
- Brand names: Jewel brands could inscribe their jewels with their names or logos so as to identify their jewels from those of competitors.
- Easier Identification: By adding a unique serial text or numbers, the jewel can be recognized later. It is important to keep this identifier a secret to avoid forgery.
- Insurance requirement: An insurance agency may require a jewel to be inscribed.
- Personal dedication: A personal may wish to add an inscription to a jewel as part of a dedication to a loved one.
Fiber Laser markings are used in the jewelry industry due to absolute precision, reliability and the fact that it does not damage the surrounding parts only marking the intended parts.
What kind of material can be marked by a fiber laser marking machine?
Fiber laser marking machines have work extremely well on a wide range of materials provided they are hard, brittle, and dark.
This means that most metals, as well as some non-metallic materials such as some plastics, can be hit by the fiber laser to produce high contrast marks.
For some materials such as plastics, Both CO2 laser marking machine and fiber laser marking machine can be used.
However, the effect is always different, and the price of the different systems can also be a consideration.
The following a list of materials that can be marked using fiber laser;
Metal engraving is performed in different industries of this technique with a metal engraver. This includes those in the jewelry industry use to add aesthetic appeal to the item being marked. The following are a few types of metal that can be marked using Fiber Laser;
- Steel– Steel is one of the most widely used metals in the word hence one of the most commonly marked metals. Fiber Laser provides ideal marking technology used for steel because of its combined speed, flexibility and reliability factors. Marking is added into steel parts for serial numbers, internal coding etc.
- Aluminum– Fiber Laser is used in marking and engraving Aluminum as it produced highly-contrasted legible markings. It produces these marking in aluminum within a short time.
- Copper– Copper is a tougher metal to mark because of its highly reflective nature. This means that it often reflects whatever is being directed at it. Fiber Laser technology is a perfect solution to this due to its mechanism to overcome it. It must however be operating at a high peak power to achieve the desired results.
Other metals that have also been used in various industries include iron, aluminum, gold, platinum and silver.
One popular non-metal material that is popularly used on this marking technology is plastic.
Used in all industries from automotive, food and aerospace to consumer electronics or medical industry, plastics need smooth, clear markings for identification, tracing and other diverse reasons.
These markings may be on the finished product, barcodes or traceability labels. One good example of marked plastics are those used in the food industry to add best before labels.
From the production of technical plastics to the finished product, Fiber Lasers mark plastic can only work on common plastics like PVC, PE, ABS etc.
This material is usually easy to mark with Fiber Laser marking machines as the result is always a black color.
Some Special Uses of Fiber Laser Marking Machines
Black Marking on Aluminum
Anodized aluminum can be marked quickly and well with a laser. The anodized layer is extracted to produce a white marking.
These white marking in natural anodized aluminum are however not clearly visible. Black markings are therefore of significantly higher quality.
In this case, a MOPA laser is used in natural anodized aluminum to very nicely laser mark different tones of grey up to a rich black.
A MOPA (Master Oscillator Power Amplifier) laser is one that consists of a master laser, also referred to as seed laser, and a laser amplifier, put together to boost the output power.
An application of this process is marking high end smartphones, tablets and laptops, among others.The most famous application is Iphone,Ipad case black marking.
Color Marking On Metal
Metals such as stainless steel, titanium, chrome plate and transition metals are known to be good materials for color marking. But not all metals can be color marked, the marking color depends on material.
Factors such as material grade, material thickness and surface finishes can have an impact on the marking process.
Polished surfaces are more consistent in terms of color whereas brushed surfaces are more difficult to color-mark.
The MOPA laser is more suitable mark colors but it can only can control colors on stainless steel and not any other material.
Black Marking on Metal
Fiber Lasers can be used to make black anneal marks on metals such as stainless steel.
An anneal mark is created by intensifying the oxide layer on the surface. This oxide layer is created on ferrous metals, such as iron, steel and high-grade steel, and titanium through localized heating.
Generally, the oxide layer is black.
Online Fly Marking
This is also commonly referred to as Marking-on-the-Fly. This is a technique whereby pieces are marked as they move on the production line.
It enables marking of the product while it moves, which is important in continuous manufacturing processes where a stop or delay of any kind on the manufacturing plants would be uneconomical.
This means that the process must be made possible for marking and engraving without stopping the conveyor.
In this technique, speed is continuously calculated and the marking is adapted in real time. Marking begins as soon as the product approaches the light barrier.
Portable Fiber Laser Marking Machine
The Portable Fiber Laser Marking Machine is a compact structure with no pollution and no optical power coupling loss.
It has high efficiency and stability. Its commands a life of more than 100,000 hours with minimum maintenance and no consumables.
Portable Fiber Laser Marking Machines are most suitable for customers who need to mark big products or parts like airplane parts and equipment bodies.
Fiber Laser Marking Cutting
The fiber laser engraver is also can do some cutting work for thin metals such as aluminum thickness 0.2mm, copper thickness 0.1mm, etc. You could check to follow the video to have a look,
Areas not Suitable for Fiber Laser Marking
Fiber Laser Markers are preferred by many due to the efficiency, accuracy and speed they provide.
However, they come with a few shortcomings. Users have to take several factors into consideration while purchasing or using them. Some applications are more suitable for adopting other machines;
- CO2 Lasers are a better choice when engraving non-metals. These types of lasers are also fast and affordable. They are better when engraving on materials such as wood, acrylics, natural stone, leather, rubber etc.
- UV (Ultraviolet) Lasers are better options in producing expensive and beautiful marks on glass and plastics. The UV Lasers produce light with wavelengths between 150 and 400 nm. This short wavelength makes them suitable for small-focused spot sizes and for marking glass and synthetics. If the focus is on detail, then UV Lasers are the best.
They are not the best for deep metal engraving. The myth that laser marking system is the best for deep mark engraving is not entirely true. A standard 20W or 30W fiber laser marker is not suitable for deep metal mark engraving as it has been established to have poor efficiency, they usually need to take 30 minutes or more to do a 0.5 mm deep on steel.
We have looked at Fiber Laser Marking Machines at a deep level and provided the uses as well as their shortcomings.
These machines implement the use of a laser beam to engrave permanent markings on surfaces. They are used to mark a variety of content and on diverse materials.
Fiber Lasers are used in many industries like the electronics industry because of the ability to mark on tiny items as well as in the jewelry industry to engrave brand identity or owners name.
They can be used on materials such as metals (Steel, aluminum, copper etc.), plastics, carbon fiber etc.
Fiber Laser Marking Machines have some challenges as they are not the best option when making deep metal engravings, engraving on non-metals and create very high precise mark on plastic.
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