In laser marking, a steady beam of concentrated light is used to create a permanent mark on a surface. This marking is permanent and is usually done with the help of fiber, pulsed, continuous wave, green, or UV laser machine. Nowadays, laser marking is also performed using automation technology at high speed, which improves traceability and adds durable marks on a spectrum of materials like steel, titanium, aluminum, copper, ceramic, plastic, glass, wood, paper, and cardboard. For several industries, laser marking is turning out to be extremely helpful as it can be used to mark parts and products of different materials with serial numbers as machine-readable data (e.g.: barcodes, Unique ID codes, and 2D Data Matrix codes) and even graphics (logos).
The Science Behind the Working of Laser Marking Machines
In the simplest terms, a concentrated beam of light is focused on a specific area of a surface to create a mark over the material. This beam of light reacts with the material’s surface and alters its properties and appearance. A precise, high-quality, high-contrast mark is formed on the specified area which is readable by man and machines. In applications and industries where the accuracy and permanency of the marks need to be long lasting, laser marking machines are critical in various stages of development and delivery.
Types of laser markers
- Fiber laser machines: It is mainly used for depth etching or engraving on harder metals or to mark high powered systems with a smaller spot size to achieve higher resolution.
- Green laser machines: This is used to mark highly reflective materials. It is most suitable for soft plastics, PCB Boards, Integrated Circuit Chips and for scribing or marking of Solar Cells of various material compositions.
- UV laser machines: Mostly used to mark “cold marking” applications, where lasers producing heat is not applicable. While the medical and pharmaceutical industry uses this technology to mark low heat tolerant equipment like plastics; the electronic industry uses it to mark circuit boards and microchips with high quality <1mm fonts.
- CO2 laser machines: It is fast and affordable and also among the oldest type of engravers and markers available in the market. It is also used to mark organic materials such as wood, ceramics such as tiles, stones and more.
- Mopa laser machines: This one is capable of marking stainless steel in various colors. Wastage and damage on using this type of machine is less due to lesser burning/ melting in the area of the surface of engraving. Another advantage is that it gives more homogeneous and often higher-contrast markings on some plastics.
Usage of a Laser Marking Machines
Several variants of laser marking machines are currently available in the market catering to the requirements of different industries. Though they are used essentially to mark surfaces, most of the machines are customized to operate slightly differently to fit industry-specific needs. The use of the machine also varies depending on the nature and properties of the material being marked. Laser marking is a relatively safe process and there are different preventative measures and safety enclosure options prescribed while using the equipment. Regardless of the type of machine being used, operators must ensure to follow all the safety guidelines at all times.
Advantages of Using Laser Marking Machines
The laser marking machines and process has grown to become an indispensable part of multiple manufacturing businesses.
- Improved operational efficiency and productivity
- Enhanced supply chain visibility and accountability
- Reduced expenditure on the management of quality and counterfeiting issues
- Compliance with industry regulations