Industrial Laser Marking – Versatile Technology

Posted on July 29, 2014 at 9:16 am

A laser is one of the latest technologies being implemented by most industries due to its cost effectiveness and versatility. Presently, lasers are very essential for Industrial laser marking applications. It is mostly preferred for marking due to its high speeds, flexibility as it is computer controlled and its permanence. It is important to understand the various types of lasers used in the marking processes.

Types of Lasers used for Marking
The CO2 lasers are mostly used to create codes that are permanent and can be traced in their lifetime. They reduce the manufacturing costs and they are able to be integrated with the automated systems. On the other hand, excimer lasers are used for marking process using various UV wavelengths of a laser. The wavelengths include 193 nm,157 nm, 248 nm and 308 nm. This type of a laser is mainly used for inkjet nozzle drilling and making the markings on eye glasses. There are also the YAG lasers that are able to produce different wavelengths and its most versatile is the Infrared that is 1064 nm. It is used to mark various materials like plastics, ceramics, metals and composites.

Each material requires a different process to be laser-marked. The various processes involved in marking are differentiated with the way they leave the surface of the material they are used to mark. There are some materials that do not need to have their surfaces altered and hence use different processes for marking than other materials whose surface needs to be altered.

The following are some of the processes used in laser marking:
1. Surface Annealing
This process draws carbon and oxides from the base of the materials being marked in order to get a mark that contrasts with the rest of the material. The beam used to mark the material produces a contrasting line that is sharp to the surrounding area. This creates a minimal or no penetration at all. This process is best used for applications that require having a surface that is undamaged, smooth and with a contrast. It is mainly used for tooling, bearings and medical implanting.

2. Surface Etching
It refers to the ability of altering the reflectivity and enhancing the contrast of most metals by changing their surface finish. It is a common technique for applications that have a penetration depth of 0.0001” deep.

3. Ablating
It is another technique of industrial laser marking by creating a contrast. The process ensures that the contrast is made without causing any damage to the base material. It is used mainly on backlit buttons, anodized aluminum and on painted steel.

4. Specialty Marking
This technique is mostly used to mark plastics. Heat can be used to change the contrast while a chemical change can result when heat is coupled with a wavelength. This process is mostly used to make products traceable. This makes it possible to trace a certain product back to its manufacturer.

All the above are some of the important lasers and laser techniques that are used for marking lasers. They help one understand the whole process of laser marking as well as its uses. It is a great method for industries to use owing to its advantages that are reduction in manufacturing costs, permanence and higher speeds.

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