Laser Marking, also known as ‘laser engraving’ or ‘laser etching,’ is a marking method which utilizes laser light to mark materials using a fine spot diameter ranging. The laser engraver marks with short pulses (10's-100's of nanoseconds), providing precise control, and negligible heat input to the part.
A fast and clean technology, laser engraving is rapidly replacing older marking methods like dot peen and chemical etching. A key factor its widespread adoption is the exponential increase in the use of direct part marking to enable tracking and traceability across many industries, most notably medical device and automotive electronics manufacturing. Easy and flexible automation, the fact that it is a non-contact process, improved environmental profile, and low cost of ownership add to the benefits of purchasing and using laser marking equipment or laser etching equipment.
Laser marking can take on many forms - some applications specify highly visible, attractive marks, while others need marks on obscure places or small enough to be visible only using magnification - including annealing, bleaching, engraving, etching, and foaming. The type of mark made is dependent on the characteristics of the laser used to make the mark. The energy density, wavelength, and material properties determine the type of interaction with the material. High energy density and short wavelengths will typically yield ablative/material removal effects, while lower power density and longer wavelengths will typically yield thermal effects.
Types of marks include alphanumeric characters, bar-codes, 2D matrix codes, serial numbers, logos and graphics. Materials which can be laser marked include metals, semiconductors, plastics, ceramics and more. See our paper Material Suitability for Laser Marking, for more information.
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