Technology

A Complete Guide to Laser Marking

Metals need to be marked in order to be identified. Production companies tend to mark metals with their logos, serial numbers, and at times bar code. This is what makes them stand out and provides them with a sense of identity.

Metal markings are essential to manufacturers and sellers as they uniquely separate every identical product in the market. So you see how essential the laser marking process is to industries and sellers; therefore, without any further ado, let’s study laser marking.

What exactly is metal laser marking?

Laser marking, a process typically performed by a UV laser machine, creates a permanent mark on a metal surface. The laser machine used to mark metals can run on any of the following:

  • Pulse laser machine
  • Green laser machine
  • Continuous-wave laser machine

Laser marking usually covers all types of metals; however, some turn out to be smoother than others. The best laser marking metals in the industry are:

  • Steel
  • Aluminium
  • Stainless Steel
  • Magnesium
  • Anodized aluminium
  • Zinc
  • Lead
  • Titanium
  • Copper

Laser marking can be applied to a wide range of practical applications like:

  • Laser etching
  • Annealing
  • Laser engraving
  • Discoloration
  • Carbon migration

Now that you are thorough with the concept of laser marking let us move forward to its working.

Working of a laser marking machine

  • Laser marking is carried out by focusing a beam of light on the surface of the material you are willing to mark.
  • As and when the beam interacts with the surface of the material, it alters its property.
  • When the properties of a material are altered, they tend to create a slight change in appearance.
  • The laser machine targets undergo a change and are marked with high quality, precise, and high contrasting marks.

This was a brief illustration regarding how laser marking works. In order to study them in detail, you need to be familiar with the concept of lasers.

So here’s how lasers function:

Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation, abbreviated as LASER, is beam stimulated to dispense light particles. A laser begins as an atom and goes on to release light particles.

This light dispensing nature of lasers is what is used by the laser marking machines. These released light particles are made to focus on a specific area of the material that needs to be marked. The beam then concentrates over the material, releases energy and seeps into the material, thereby creating a permanent mark. The energy released by the laser marking machine is measured in nanometers. The higher the measurement, the higher is the power of the beam. High power machines are used to mark metals, whereas low power machines are used to mark sensitive and soft materials like glass and plastic.

Things to consider before marking materials with laser

Each laser marking machine works slightly differently from the other. This might be due to different target materials and different machine types. Therefore there are no hard and fast rules on how to operate a laser marking machine. However, there are some general considerations to take into account before you carry out a marking procedure. These considerations are:

  1. The difference in lasers: Different kinds of laser machines react differently with metals. Likewise, a CO2 laser takes more time than a fiber laser.
  2. Consider the quality of your material: Not every material is compatible with every form of lasers. Like anodized materials need a fiber laser while hard metals require a CO2 laser. Sometimes, two different materials can use the same type of laser but with different speed and power settings.
  3. The difference in the marking technique: There are numerous techniques to mark different materials. For instance, some laser machines mark metals by vaporizing a part of the material. The other techniques include ablation and heating of the material to create permanent marks.

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