At TYKMA Electrox, we’re dedicated to keeping our customers informed about the latest news within the laser marking industry, along with supplying them information regarding essential marking techniques.
We’ve previously written about the differences between laser marking, engraving and etching, as well as the 6 most common types of laser marking, though our focus in this post is on laser texturing, also known as laser surface texturing or laser ablating.
Defining Laser Texturing
Laser texturing or laser ablating is a process that creates a mark on a material by eliminating a section of the surface-coated layer on the material. What remains is a mark which is bright or white-colored, dependent upon the contrast created by the original coating.
Marks created through the laser texturing process are relatively smooth to the touch, as the surface of the material is only minimally penetrated.
How a Laser Texturing Machine Works
During the texturing process, the laser texturing machine produces a concentrated beam of light that removes part of the material’s surface. With the adjustment of the laser’s parameters, you’re able to control how much surface is removed and also create a variety of patterns.
The Stages of Laser Texturing
The stages for the laser texturing process include:
- Preprocessing – Before texturing takes place, the surface is cleaned and analyzed to ensure the absence of any potentially contaminating materials.
- Laser ablation – During this stage, a laser beam selectively modifies or removes material to create the texture of the pattern on the surface. It’s during this stage that the pulse duration and the power of the laser are controlled.
- Post-processing – After laser texturing, the surface may need cleaning to remove any debris. Your materials may also require inspection to confirm the desired texture was achieved.
Advantages of Laser Surface Texturing
Just like all forms of laser marking, laser surface texturing offers numerous benefits for companies’ operations, including:
- A reliable, repeatable process controlled by a modern computerized system
- Cost-efficiency due to a reduction in labor and production time compared to other, traditional marking methods
- The ability to mark difficult-to-reach spaces on products
- An increased marking precision compared to methods such as acid etching, since the chemicals involved in that process can create depth variances resulting in a less uniform product
- A high level of control during the laser texturing process over surface microstructures which in turn helps to reduce the environmental impact of the process in comparison to other methods
- A significant reduction in waste, as well as the lack of need for any chemical reagents
As you can see, laser ablating your materials can bring about great results for your essential operations. Now let’s take a moment to look at how you can apply the laser texturing process to your business.
Laser Texturing Applications
Some of the products that laser surface texturing has been used in conjunction with include:
- Magnetic storage drives and assorted devices
- Thrust bearings
- MEMS devices
- Hydraulics equipment
- Nano materials
- Metallic and dielectric films
- Superconducting materials
- Solar cells
- Implants for bone and dental appliances
Some additional materials well-suited for laser texturing include:
- Aluminum – By removing the rough oxide layer of aluminum, a strong contrast can be created between the material and the mark you are generating. Variances in the laser parameters can produce differing surfaces, with a shinier surface possible for increased contrast.
- Copper – Laser marking on copper is probably most often performed in an effort to create a contrast, though methods exist for producing a dark mark as well.
- Leather – Laser marking on leather is a popular method for branding and traceability purposes. You’ll find a lot of industries such as sporting goods, automotive, and retail utilizing this method.
For a look at other materials that our laser marking systems are adept at working with, be sure to visit our materials page.
And if you’re wondering about potential applications for your specific sector, our industries page details a number of the common uses of our laser marking systems.
FAQs on the Laser Texturing Process
What safety precautions should I keep in mind for laser texturing?
It’s important to follow guidelines for proper laser use to prevent any injuries or hazards. Safety measures such as wearing protective gear and ensuring sufficient ventilation in the workplace are two key rules to follow.
What industries can benefit from the laser texturing process?
Laser texturing is utilized in a wide variety of industries such as aerospace, consumer goods, electronics, medical, automotive, and more. While it can offer solutions for functional applications, it can also be used for decorative purposes.
Which textures can be achieved with a laser texturing machine?
A laser texturing machine can accomplish various textures including microstructures, rough surfaces, and engraved designs. The texture will be affected based on factors like material properties or laser parameters.
What types of lasers are used for texturing?
Different types of lasers can be used for the process including CO2, MOPA fiber, and ultrashort pulse lasers. This choice is decided based on material properties, application requirements, and the desired outcome.
Can laser texturing be a choice for large-scale production?
Yes, definitely! When integrated into automated manufacturing processes, laser texturing offers efficiency and consistency, making it an ideal choice.
What are the main factors of laser texturing?
The main parameters of laser texturing include pulse duration, wavelength, scan speed, and laser power.
How long does laser texturing typically take?
The duration can depend on several factors such as surface area, power of the laser, and the material being treated. On average, laser texturing might take 15-30 min on a small part, with a more complex part taking 3-8+ hours.
Contact TYKMA Electrox
If you have any questions about laser texturing and which system would be the best fit for your company, reach out to us because we’d love to help!