lasers for packaging

In yet another example of the diverse capabilities for laser technology, it was recently announced that a company within the packaging industry has teamed with a science and technology company to mark plastic bottle caps with a laser-sensitive pigment.

Read on to discover key details about this development, as well as what it could mean for the packaging industry and the laser marking field.

The Partnership

German packaging company Kisico has partnered with global science and technology company Merck KGaA to produce bottle caps that are marked by way of a laser-sensitive pigment. These pigments are utilized in conjunction with laser marking to produce clean, readable marks in a variety of colors.

Merck KGaA’s laser-sensitive pigments are ideal for the marking of plastics and powder-coated surfaces, which made them perfect for Kisico’s plastic bottle caps. The two companies debuted the marked bottle caps at the 2018 FachPack trade fair.

The laser-sensitive pigments are offered in two forms—pigment powders for changing colors inside of polymers, and pigment granules which turn dark when exposed to a laser beam.

Laser Pigment Powder

These powders from Merck KGaA alter colors permanently by way of carbonization or foaming. Some key details about these powders include:

  • When utilized with a laser beam for marking purposes, the powder elicits a change in color within the polymer and/or pigment powder
  • The pigments help to supply high-contrast, clear markings and are suitable for high-speed systems, as well as those which feature low-energy lasers
  • The composition of the polymer being marked can determine the look of the finished mark, with either light marks being made by way of foaming or dark marks being made by way of carbonization
  • For best results, the pigment powder should be added as part of a masterbatch or compound prior to application to the surface being marked

Laser Pigment Granules

These granules allow companies to add a dark laser mark to materials that feature a light background surface. Some key details about these granules include:

  • The pigment granules are comprised of millions of tiny elements that have been blended to create ideal properties for marking
  • With a mixture of absorbers and color formers, the particles found in these granules maintain their integrity and stay together as needed
  • Once the pigment granules are struck with the light from a laser beam, the material turns dark and produces a vibrant new color
  • The pigment granules can be easily incorporated into a polymer matrix allowing the user to produce a color concentrate
  • Ideal for materials that include polyoxymethylene (POM), thermoplastic elastomers (TPU), and polyethylene (PE)

With this new partnership utilizing these pigment marking methods, more packaging companies are sure to follow suit, expanding the already sizeable role laser marking plays within the packaging and manufacturing industries.

More on Color Laser Marking

We think these developments are fascinating, as color laser marking is something we’ve been interested in for some time. You can view a product demonstration of TYKMA Electrox’s color laser marking capabilities on our YouTube page, where we demonstrate the process on a stainless steel bottle opener.

Want to learn more about color laser marking? Reach out to our team today and we’ll be happy to discuss options with you!