One of the best ways to turn manufacturing material into art is with laser engraving, which serves several other purposes as well. Generally, this process is used to create images on surface material. Here are important aspects of the process.
Common Engraving Projects
- wooden, metal and plastic signs
- musical instruments
- art framing
- leather designs
- ID tags on products
- medical devices
- aerospace and automotive equipment
Main Benefits of Laser Engraving
Laser engraving can be performed on various material surfaces, including wood, plastics and rubber. A similar concept known as laser marking can be done on stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, brass and copper. Other materials appropriate for engraving include acrylic, stone, cardboard, tile and glass.
It’s common for manufacturers to apply engraving on industrial machine parts for identification purposes. Barcodes can be also be embedded into various commercial products. Of course, laser engraving is also commonly used for decorative purposes.
What Lasers Do
The reason large fabricators prefer laser machines for cutting and engraving is they speed up production cycles and make certain types of manufacturing more convenient and affordable. The concept is based on a high-powered laser beam, which concentrates a beam of light on a surface. As the laser heats up it vaporizes surface material. The result is a cavity that appears in the material. Deeper marks are created from repeating the process.
These machines are automated, executing programs through a controller, laser marking is based on X, Y and sometimes Z coordinates. There are various types of laser machines to choose from, depending on material thickness and type of project. Essentially, software used in laser markers converts vector files into mathematical data that tells the controller how to move the laser on the marking surface. The operator can modify power output, input settings and machine speed depending on material type and thickness.
The initial design can be created in various types of graphics applications that produce vector files such as Corel Draw, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop or AutoCAD. The reason vector files are used is that the images remain clear even when size is adjusted.
Manufacturers across various industries must comply with government regulations about putting unique device identifiers (UDIs) on products. The purpose for these UDIs beyond identifying parts is to reduce errors and ensure safety. This information is useful if a part fails and needs to be replaced.
The goal of laser engraving is for the final result to be legible or attractive. If you need laser engraving work or other types of projects that use laser cutters in Orange County, Serra Laser & Waterjet is here to serve your needs. Give us a call at 714.680.6211 to tell us about your project and get an instant quote any time of day.
One of the fastest-growing applications of laser technology is in identification. In manufacturing, laser engraving and marking open up a range of possibilities that enables better efficiency, more security, and exciting new capabilities.
Laser Identification Options
Laser engraving allows us to place important identification elements on production parts. These might include:
- Serial numbers
- Time stamps
- Data matrix codes
- Logos or other branding marks
- Instructions and safety warnings
- Device identifiers
The Advantages of Laser-Enabled Identification
There are numerous options for manufacturers to mark inventory. Why are laser marking and laser engraving edging ahead of alternative options such as etching, painting, and labeling? Here are just a few reasons:
- Eco-Friendly: Lasers don’t utilize any extra materials to leave a mark. Rather, their concentrated energy change the composition of the material itself to leave lasting marks. That means no environmentally harmful chemicals are involved, as they may be in painting or chemical etching.
- Durable: It’s easy for sticker labels and painted marks to wear off over time. This is especially true of many heavy-usage parts that we make in our shop. Laser marking and engraving can’t be removed or altered because it’s incorporated into the part itself.
- Maintains Integrity of the Product: Laser marking is especially useful when you don’t want to compromise the composition of your original product. Keep the exact specifications and shape of the part, while still identifying it with indelible marks.
Laser Marking Versus Laser Engraving
Laser marking and laser engraving are the two most common approaches to laser-enabled identification. Although they sound very similar, there’s a slight difference between the two options. Laser engraving works somewhat like a brand, vaporizing a small top layer of the material in a designated pattern to create a textured mark that you can feel with your fingers. Laser marking, on the other hand, is a noncontact process that changes the surface color of the object, much in the way that a plastic object may change color when it’s subjected to high heat. Laser marking can’t be washed off, and doesn’t leave a cavity in the surface of the material.
Etching is another common process that we’re often asked about. Etching is usually used to mark metal. However, it should be noted that etching isn’t related to lasers, but is rather a chemical process that utilizes acidic corrosion to leave a mark.
Applications of Laser Engraving and Marking
As mentioned above, the ease and reliability of laser engraving and marking opens up many options for streamlining your processes and ensuring better quality and security. Here are a few ways that our clients have used laser marking in their industry:
- Quality control
- Minimize counterfeiting
- Tracking and tracing
Call Serra Laser for More Details
Here at Serra Laser, we use cutting-edge tools to provide the highest quality on your custom-built parts. We offer both laser engraving and laser marking to help our clients better identify and brand their products. Laser engraving is available for glass, rubber, wood, and plastics, as well as most metals, and can be customized for your needs. Contact us today to learn more, or get an instant quote for your project.