As we jump into 2024, the laser marking industry is continuing to evolve, push boundaries, and identify new opportunities. With that in mind, whether you are a seasoned professional or new to the field, we’ve compiled an all-encompassing list of frequently asked questions about laser marking in 2024 that will help you navigate the essentials.
What Is Laser Marking?
Laser marking is a process in which a laser beam is concentrated onto a material’s surface, changing its appearance through discoloration. The beam creates permanent, high-contrast marks without disrupting the material.
Oxidation occurs as the laser heats the material under the surface, turning it black or a darkened shade. One key aspect about laser marking is that it applies a low temperature to the material that anneals the surface, all while leaving the surface intact.
What Types of Materials Are Laser Marked?
Laser marking is a versatile technology that can be applied to a wide variety of materials. Our lasers can be used on metals, plastics, coated materials, glass, and more. The wavelengths of specific lasers can facilitate marking on diverse materials, and for varied applications, as we’ll examine below.
Laser Marking on Metal
Utilizing laser marking tools for metal is a common process in manufacturing settings. MOPA fiber lasers are ideal for all metals and UV lasers are available for specialized applications.
Metals lasers can mark on include:
- Steel and stainless steel
- Brass and copper
- Anodized and coated materials
- Nickel-plated materials
- Galvanized materials
Laser Marking on Plastic
Since plastic is such a common material found in many products throughout the world, companies and hobbyists often need laser machines to mark it with barcodes, company logos, serial numbers, and more.
Some common plastics ideal for marking include:
- Polypropylene – Used for applications that include automotive components and medical device components
- LDPE – Used for medical catheters and various tubing products
- PEEK – Used for medical implant devices and contact pins
- PVC – Used for construction-based materials and electrical components
- ABS – Used for automotive parts and component shells and housings
Laser Engraving on Glass
Glass is another material found in many everyday products, making it one of the most laser engraved substances. CO2 and UV laser marking technologies are ideal for glass as they both produce exceptional results.
Common products that often undergo the process of laser engraving on glass include:
- Wine, beer, and standard drinking glasses
- Automotive glass and mirrors
- Test tubes and glass panels
Other Materials for Laser Marking
In addition to the materials mentioned above, other substances that are commonly marked on include:
- Painted, coated, and anodized materials
- Synthetics and other materials
What Are the Key Techniques That Laser Machines Can Perform?
Laser machines are incredibly flexible tools that supply different technique possibilities. Options include:
- Engraving – This is a technique where the laser removes the material from the surface at different depths
- Frosting – By moving the laser at a high rate, it creates a disturbance on the surface which makes the mark look bright white
- Ablation – The process of ablation involves removing specialized coatings or surface layers from materials
- Annealing – This technique applies heat, below the melting point, resulting in a smooth, high-contrast surface mark
- Foaming – This is the process of creating small gas bubbles under the surface that produce a slightly raised surface area, resulting in a white, tan or dark-colored mark
What Are the Different Kinds of Lasers?
When it comes to laser marking machines, there are different lasers (featuring different wavelengths) that are best suited for certain materials and applications. MOPA fiber lasers are a standard laser, but CO2 and UV lasers also have key functionalities that make them suitable for specific situations.
MOPA Fiber Lasers
MOPA fiber lasers produce high pulse repetition and utilize a wavelength of 1.06 µm, making them infrared (IR) lasers. While this wavelength isn’t suitable for fragile materials, like wood and glass, it is ideal for most metals including steel, titanium, aluminum, brass and copper, along with many plastics.
CO2 lasers use a glass tube filled with carbon dioxide, helium, hydrogen, and nitrogen to produce high-intensity light when electrified. CO2 lasers emit wavelengths of 9.3 µm, 10.2 µm, and 10.6 µm. Since these lasers feature such a different wavelength than that of fiber lasers, robust materials are not well suited for marking. However, CO2 lasers are great for more delicate materials such as wood, glass, stone, leather, cardboard, plastics, and rubber.
Ultraviolet or UV lasers utilize a very short wavelength, typically falling between 200 nm and 389 nm. This wavelength range is highly absorptive allowing the lasers to perform “cold marking.” Cold marking ensures no excess heat stress is applied to the materials, especially highly reflective ones such as gold, silver, and copper.
What Sets TYKMA Electrox Apart from Competitors?
At TYKMA Electrox, we specialize in the design and manufacture of industrial laser marking systems, and we have more than 65 years of combined experience in the laser marking field, providing unrivaled solutions to our customers.
Our team offers the most advanced, low-maintenance, reliable laser marking technology there is, and we spend a great deal of time engineering every detail of our systems to ensure high quality, ergonomic features, and outstanding design.
Some key aspects of our company that set us apart from competitors include:
- While we are based in the United States, our laser marking facility is able to serve customers globally
- We offer compact workstations that are guaranteed to take up minimal space and have been created with ergonomics in mind
- Our customer service support is 24/7, 365 days a year to ensure our clients are well taken care of
- We provide numerous training and maintenance options, along with helpful blogs and videos as resources to help operators learn more about the industry
- We serve a diverse array of industries including aerospace, automotive, electronics, defense, and more
- Our laser marking systems provide exceptional capabilities that produce high-contrast and precise results
Contact TYKMA Electrox to Learn More About Laser Marking in 2024
For more information about laser marking in 2024, reach out to TYKMA Electrox today! We are your go-to source for all things laser marking, and we’re excited to discuss options with you. Contact our team today with any questions or to start your order for a system.