What is laser marking?
"Laser marking" stands for marking or labeling of workpieces and materials with a laser beam. In this regard, different processes are distinguished, such as engraving, removing, staining, annealing and foaming. Depending on the material and the quality requirement, each of these procedures has its own advantages and disadvantages.
How does a laser work?
Laser technology basics
All lasers consist of three components:
1.An external pump source
2.The active laser medium
The pump source guides external energy to the laser.
The active laser medium is located on the inside of the laser. Depending on the design, the laser medium can consist of a gas mixture (CO2 laser), of a crystal body (YAG laser) or glass fibers (fiber laser). When energy is fed to the laser medium through the pump, it emits energy in the form of radiation.
The active laser medium is located between two mirrors, the "resonator". One of these mirrors is a one-way mirror. The radiation of the active laser medium is amplified in the resonator. At the same time, only a certain radiation can leave the resonator through the one-way mirror. This bundled radiation is the laser radiation.
Benefits of laser marking
High-precision marking at constant quality
Thanks to the high precision of laser marking, even very delicate graphics, 1-point fonts and very small geometries will turn out clearly legible. At the same time, marking with the laser ensures constant high-quality results.
High marking speed
Laser marking machine https://www.stylecnc.com/laser-marking-machine/ is one of the fastest marking processes available in the market. This results in high productivity and cost benefits during manufacture. Depending on the material structure and size, different laser sources (e. g. fiber lasers) or laser machines (e. g. galvo lasers) can be used to further increase the speed.
Laser etching is permanent and at the same time resistant to abrasion, heat and acids. Depending on the laser parameter settings, certain materials can also be marked without damaging the surface.
What materials can be marked with a laser?
Stainless steel, aluminum, gold, silver, titanium, bronze, platinum or copper
The laser has been serving well for many years, particularly when it comes to laser engraving and marking metals (https://www.stylecnc.com/laser-marking-machine/). Not only soft metals, such as aluminum but steel or very hard alloys can also be marked accurately, legibly and quickly using a laser. With certain metals, such as steel alloys, it is even possible to implement corrosion-resistant markings without damaging the surface structure using annealing marking. Products made of metal are marked with lasers in a wide range of industries.
Polycarbonate(PC), Polyamide(PA), Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene copolymer (ABS), Polyimide (PI), Polystyrene (PS), Polymethylmetacrylate (PMMA), Polyester (PES)
Plastics can be marked or engraved with lasers in a variety of ways. With a fiber laser, you can mark many different commercially used plastics, such as polycarbonate, ABS, polyamide, and many more with a permanent, quick, high-quality finish. Thanks to the low set-up times and flexibility a marking laser offers, you can mark even small batch sizes economically.
Different processes of laser marking
Annealing marking is a special type of laser etching for metals. The heat effect of the laser beam causes an oxidation process underneath the material surface, resulting in a color change on the metal surface.
Laser engraving: https://www.stylecnc.com/laser-engraving-machine/
During laser engraving, the workpiece surface is melted and evaporated with the laser. Consequently, the laser beam removes the material. The thus produced impression in the surface is the engraving.
During removing, the laser beam removes the top coats applied to the substrate. A contrast is produced as a result of the different colors of top coat and substrate. Common materials that are laser marked by way of removing of material include anodized aluminum, coated metals, foils and films, or laminates.
During foaming, the laser beam melts a material. During this process, gas bubbles are produced in the material, which reflect the light diffusely. The marking will thus turn out lighter than the areas that have not been etched. This type of laser marking is used mainly for dark plastics.
Carbonizing enables strong contrasts on bright surfaces. During the carbonizing process the laser heats up the surface of the material (minimum 100° C) and oxygen, hydrogen or a combination of both gases is emitted. What's left is a darkened area with higher carbon concentration.
Carbonizing can be used for polymers or bio-polymers such as wood or leather. Since carbonizing always leads to dark marks, the contrast on dark materials will be rather minimal.
General knowledge about laser here.
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