TYKMA Electrox is proud to be part of a dynamic field that is constantly innovating and improving. With the hundreds of industries that utilize laser marking and laser engraving for their operations and products, new techniques and possibilities are being discovered all the time.

With that in mind, here are eight exciting new applications businesses and researchers have found for laser marking, keeping the industry on the cutting edge!

1. Laser Cooling Technology

With traditional lasers, heat is generated during their use, which in turn makes them excellent tools for the marking of various surfaces.

But recently, researchers at the University of Washington discovered a way to create “cooling” lasers by essentially reversing the standard laser procedure. After designing a specialized crystalline material called a laser crystal, the researchers submersed the crystal in a container of water.

The crystal’s properties were such that when exposed to the light of a laser it absorbed the laser’s heat along with surrounding heat, cooling the water by 36 degrees Fahrenheit!

This development could have countless practical applications so be sure to watch out for future developments!

2. Laser Etching for Records

On the lighter side of laser etching applications, one artist has begun using lasers to produce records from a variety of foodstuffs.

Through a project called Edible Sound, created to raise awareness about food production and healthy eating, Matthew Herper crafted records out of edible materials such as:

  • Tortillas
  • Cheese
  • Ham
  • Sugar
  • Celeriac
  • Onions
  • Eggplant
  • Potatoes

And most amazing of all, these records were entirely playable on standard turntables. Following the event that featured their unveiling, the artist distributed these tasty LPs to his audience. Make sure to check this out!

3. Data Crystals for Permanent Storage

One of the most exciting recent developments relating to laser etching concerns the field of data storage. Scientists at the University of Southampton have used laser etching to place copies of important documents like the Magna Carta and the King James Bible on coin-sized glass discs called “Opticks.”

These discs are equipped with amazing properties, such as:

  • The ability to last up to 13.8 billion years (the current age of the universe)
  • The ability to last billions of years at temperatures of 374 degrees Fahrenheit, and in perpetuity for room temperature
  • 360 terabytes of storage space, or roughly 720x the average storage space available on a computer

The researchers have given their discs the playful nickname “Superman memory crystal,” referencing those found in the Superman comic books and, most prominently, the Christopher Reeve film adaptations.

With this kind of data storage becoming available, the ways businesses and consumers alike store and use information are surely going to go through some big changes.

4. Laser Engraving for Maps

Another interesting recent use of the laser engraving process comes from two artists in Baltimore who are utilizing the process to create vintage-style maps on leather and stretched canvas.

With expansion plans to create maps for cities beyond Baltimore, and the gorgeous craftsmanship of the maps themselves, there’s a good chance you’ll be seeing one of these soon, perhaps on your own wall!

5. Laser Engraving for Tracing Eggs

In an effort to increase transparency for the origins of our food, a Southern California startup company, TEN Ag Tech, is looking to make eggs “traceable” through a nontoxic, gold laser barcode.

This barcode would allow consumers to quickly discover information about their purchased eggs, including vital aspects like:

  • The breed of the hen which laid the egg
  • The egg-production method utilized such as:
    • Free-range
    • Cage-free
    • Traditional caged production
  • When the egg was packaged within 180 seconds

Beyond eggs, the company wants to expand this application of laser engraving, duplicating the process for such foodstuffs as coffee and meat. This is all in an effort to better educate consumers about the food they’re buying and eating and, with any luck, help bring about industry-wide changes in food production.

6. Driver’s License Laser Engraving

As technologies continue to be expanded and innovated, new applications for use are often identified, and the processes of laser marking and laser engraving are no different.

Over the last few years the usefulness of laser engraving has been put to use by the security industry to help prevent counterfeiting in driver’s licenses.

These processes have been emplyed by many state and federal governments and most recently have been utilized for Colorado’s newest license redesign.

7. Laser Engraving for Medicine

In another example of how laser engraving can be utilized to create authentication and traceability, Chinese researchers have developed a safe method of laser engraving QR codes onto ingestible medicines.

The purpose of adding the QR code is that consumers would be able to scan any pills being taken with a smart phone or similar device and ensure the medication they were taking was correct.

Additionally, the ingredients of the pills can also be listed in the QR code, allowing consumers to become more aware of what they’re bringing into their bodies.

8. Superhydrophobic Surfaces Through Laser Etching

One of the most fascinating recent uses of laser etching is the development of creating superhydrophobic surfaces by way of the process.

A group of researchers from the University of Rochester have developed a way to etch nested details into the surfaces of metal plates resulting in a type of “coating” for the material, producing the superhydrophic effect.

Some of the potential applications for this discovery include use in:

  • Smartphone production, protecting surfaces from water, grease and other materials
  • Toilet production, reducing the amount of water necessary during use and increasing hygienic possibilities
  • Solar power production, increasing efficiency and reducing rust and dirt accumulation

To discover more exciting applications in the worlds of laser marking, laser etching and laser engraving, be sure to keep following TYKMA Electrox’s blog to discover all of the most recent industry innovations.