Laser marking is used by manufacturers and designers to make a permanent impression on a material such as metal, plastic, film, laminates and others. This process encompasses a wide variety of marking applications. Here are essential points to keep in mind regarding laser engraving to get the most efficient and high quality results.
Why Laser Machines Are Needed
Markings on surfaces can be done with traditional hand tools, but the results are usually mixed. The handcrafted way takes much longer, costs more for high volume and lacks the precision of a laser machine. Your product, target market and production schedule will help you determine the appropriate choice: traditional hand tools, or laser equipment.
Some businesses might choose the traditional method for the sake of customization, but even in that scenario laser machines provide better efficiency. Another reason for choosing traditional marking methods is it may be more practical for small orders with no immediate deadline. But in almost all other situations, laser machines are more effective at delivering products exactly as designed in a shorter time frame.
Different types of laser machines should be considered based on the materials and time frame involved. Many fabricators use a combination of fiber, CO2, crystal, pulse and other types of laser machines.
The markings from lasers are permanent and resistant to acids and heat. Laser marking machines essentially deliver faster processing speeds than almost any other technology. They are very effective at marking any type of diverse shapes without loss of quality or additional refining steps. For those practicing sustainability, lasers reduce waste, cost and downtime while meeting regulatory compliance.
Types of Laser Markings
Laser technology is very useful for etching and engraving, as it creates markings on materials easily, based on computer programming with design instructions. It allows for easy customization in the sense that the machine can be automated to generate products based on any pre-programmed design.
The basics of laser engraving involve the laser beam removing surface material, which is often melted and evaporated, leaving an engraved impression. Other types of laser marking include staining, foaming and carbonizing. Staining allows for color variations on surfaces, although staining lighter colors on plastic may lead to darker marking due to the soot residue left behind. Material color can also be altered with annealing marking on metal, in which oxidation occurs beneath the material surface. A common application is engraving serial numbers on tags and machine parts.
When it comes to high volume marking, laser marking is the most cost-effective solution available. It also has the quickest turnaround in terms of timing. Contact us at Serra Laser & Waterjet to learn more about the advantages of laser machines and various laser marking strategies.