In previous posts, we’ve highlighted the value of incorporating a laser system into your operations, especially when compared to other marking technologies.
One aspect that we haven’t explored much, though, is the color marking that is available from laser marking systems. If you have parts that you believe could benefit from a burst of color, you should invest in a color laser marking machine from TYKMA Electrox.
Let’s take a look at how color laser engraving works, what it’s used for, and why TYKMA Electrox should be your source for color engraving machines.
What Is Color Laser Marking?
Color laser marking, or color laser engraving as it’s also known, is the process of adding color to an object that is being marked. “Marking” is the more apt term since engraving removes a portion of the material’s surface, creating a cavity, while marking merely “stains” the surface. You could, however, laser engrave a piece and then color laser mark it directly after.
Using color for laser marking or engraving allows you to expand your capabilities, providing more versatility in your product offerings along with alluring features for your customers.
The Color Laser Marking Process
Color laser marking allows the laser’s beam to interact with the surface of a material, altering its appearance. Some key aspects of color laser marking machines include:
- Results achieved by moving a low-powered beam slowly across the material using a method called discoloration, which creates high-contrast marks without disrupting the material
- Laser heats the chosen location, causing oxidation under the surface and changing its color
- A low temperature is applied to metal to anneal the surface
- All of this is accomplished while leaving the surface intact
Color laser engraving can essentially be broken down into two subsets, which are color laser engraving on metal and color laser marking on plastic.
Color Laser Marking on Plastics
As of this writing, color laser markings for plastics is still limited, but recently developed techniques may soon change that across the industry.
At present, plastic materials that are marked with a color laser engraving machine remain in the same color “family” as the original material, with variations in light and dark.
- For instance, a blue plastic material being marked will not be able to have a portion altered to be green, red, yellow, or other colors.
- Shade variations are possible, however, with dark plastics being changed to a lighter shade and light plastics being changed to a darker one.
As we discussed in our packaging industry post, though, a recent partnership has shown great potential in color laser marking plastics with different colors by way of laser-sensitive pigments and granules. We find this innovation fascinating and will certainly be keeping our eye on it.
Applicable materials for color marking plastic include:
Color Laser Engraving on Metals
Color engraving metal has more expansive capabilities and applications, with color laser marking stainless steel being particularly popular in a lot of industries.
This form of color laser marking alters the surface layer of the material in question and can produce distinct colors on the piece. Untreated, or raw, metal surfaces have a wide range of potential colors that can be marked on them, with the colors being produced by differences in laser frequencies, power, speed, focal distance, and more.
Applicable materials color marking metals include:
You can get a good look at color laser engraving on stainless steel in our video, where we add blue and red to an Ironbull Slinger bottle opener to give it a patriotic flair.
Color Laser Marking Machine Applications
Companies have utilized color laser engraving and marking for diverse purposes, such as through:
- Personalizing products for customers
- Adding graphics, designs, and images to enhance a product
- Boosting their branding capabilities by marking a piece with their company colors
- Ornamenting craft metal works, watches, and jewelry
- Marking cell phones, cameras, and other electronics equipment
- Marking metal bathroom fittings to denote hot and cold water
- Marking parts for use in medical products, automobiles, aircraft, and more
- Marking firearms and knives for personalization
Of course, these are just some of the possibilities for color laser engraving. The sky’s really the limit and we’d love to help you get creative!
A Brief Introduction to Laser Annealing
Another way to achieve color using a laser marking system is through the process of laser annealing. In laser annealing, metals are slowly heated with a laser beam, causing oxygen to diffuse below the surface. This results in internal oxidization, which leads to a change in the color of the metal once it cools completely.
Laser annealing is a process that works on specific metals like steel, titanium, and stainless steel. The process does not remove anything from the surface of your object and is ideal for applications that require little to no rust buildup. Based on the temperature of the laser, marks can be created in colors like yellow, red, and green.
FAQs on Color Laser Marking
What factors should I consider when choosing a laser marking system?
In order to help you find the ideal system, we can ask you questions regarding what materials you want to mark, the size and shape of your parts, your required marking speed, and the level of automation needed.
What industries benefit from color laser etching and marking?
Color laser etching and marking is used across a wide array of fields such as automotive, electronics, medical, consumer goods, and jewelry. It’s especially useful for applications requiring branding or traceability.
Does color laser engraving fade?
By using a color laser engraving machine, you will be able to create a permanent mark on the object’s surface. These marks won’t fade over time and are resistant to cracking and peeling, unlike other marking methodologies.
What support do you offer for color laser marking machines?
At TYKMA Electrox, we ensure that our clients have a complete understanding of the systems we offer. We provide various support options such as:
- Startup assistance
- Online training
- Training at our TYKMA Electrox facility
- Onsite training at your facility
Are there any accessories I should use with mycolor laser engraving machine?
We have many options and accessories that are available for our laser systems including safety glasses, linear axes, fume extraction systems, rotary devices, and more. Prioritize safety and enhance your experience by adding accessories to your color laser marking machine.
Can images or complex designs be color laser marked?
Yes, color laser engraving can handle complex designs, images, and logos with high precision.
The Benefits of Choosing TYKMA Electrox for Color Laser Engraving Machines
TYKMA Electrox specializes in the design and manufacturing of color laser marking machines and beyond. We are trusted to provide reliable solutions to companies in diverse industries around the world and will work with you to create a system that supplies effective color laser engraving for your application and beyond.
Discover the benefits of using a system by TYKMA Electrox today:
- We offer optimization and customization, which makes our systems incredibly versatile
- Our selection of solutions includes accessories so that you can find the best option for meeting your goals
- Quality of work is something we pride ourselves on, which is kept in mind throughout the process of building your color laser marking system
- Our team is ready to help you by providing 24/7 service, training, and technical support
- Machines created by TYKMA Electrox have high-end and cutting-edge features
- We understand that each of our clients is different, which is why we take a personalized, consultative approach to every application
Why Our Color Laser Marking Machines Are Advantageous
Our color laser marking systems are known for their ability to reliably produce the same mark over and over again, making them perfect for creating precise brand logos or QR codes. Additional advantages of choosing our color laser engraving machines include:
- Durability – Using color laser engraving provides a durable mark that will withstand time and varied elements. This is especially helpful for applications that endure abrasive treatments regularly.
- Simplicity – MOPA fiber lasers are usually the choice for color laser marking projects because they have better control over parameters like power, frequency, pulse duration, and more. Our fiber lasers do not require much upkeep and have low power consumption, resulting in less environmental impact.
- Versatility – Regardless of the desired outcome for your color laser engraving project, our machines are capable of achieving what you are looking for. This allows you to use your TYKMA Electrox color laser engraving machine in a variety of projects, applications, and industries.
- Clarity – Color laser marking is intended to create designs, product numbers, codes, and more that will accompany a product throughout its useful life. With that said, our machines make sure the marks are performed cleanly so that they have high visibility for those who view them.
Choose TYKMA Electrox for Your Color Engraving Machine
At TYKMA Electrox, our color laser engraving machines and other systems are known for their precision and repeatability. With our experience and consultative approach, you can rest assured you’ll find the best fit solution for your application.
Contact our team today so we can discuss options with you and find the perfect system for your color laser engraving needs!