The importance of creating quality products and of being able to track a product from the start of production to the end of their life has made it vital to choose the right marking application. The right mark should allow a manufacturer to track genuine products at all times and help reduce counterfeits, minimize recalls and even improve quality. There are now several different types of laser marking products on the market and it can be difficult to know which one to choose for your needs. In order to choose the best laser for your marking application you should consider the following points:
Metals and plastics can be left with contrasting marks if marked with a standard laser marking machine. However, the dot peen cannot be used to mark plastics and the inkjet is only effective on some plastics. Chemical etching is an option but only for metal, it is not accurate enough when dealing with plastic.
Laser and dot peen marking will leave a permanent, water resistant mark whilst a chemical etch is not guaranteed to be waterproof. If the part is extremely small or delicate it is better to use a non-contact marking approach. Equally, if the part has an important safety function the laser marking should be non-intrusive to ensure the intrinsic qualities of a product remain.
Surface of Part
Very smooth or very rough surfaces can be difficult to put a barcode or similar marking number on, they can also be nearly impossible to read back. A standard laser can rough the surface or smooth it before the marking is created to create the right surface. The height of the material should also be considered; particularly if it has several different heights over the area which needs marking. Equally, if you are adding a logo to your product or equipment you will find that dot peen and inkjet are not the best options.
Most laser marking applications can quickly adjust the size of their marking in comparison to the area available to mark. However, not all the application types are capable of all sizes. You may need to consider the size of your marking and the surface area available before choosing your method.
Integrating the Mark
Laser markers are very good at handling complex and varied shapes, however;, if you are trying to mark a part which is on a moving production line you will have to choose between either an inkjet or a laser marker as they can both be used on moving parts. Chemical etching and dot peen are only good if the product is off the production line.
Higher quality images can be created by using laser marking or chemical etching. Inkjet and dot peen do not deliver the same level of image quality. Laser marking and laser engraving are two different processes. First of all, marking is less common and is also refers to laser coloration and metal annealing. Laser marking is extremely popular in the following industries: medicine, auto, and constructions. Most common materials used for marking are titanium and steel; but then again laser marking can also be done on plastic and wood.
Laser marking has very little, if any environmental impact. A high intensity light beam creates heat in the object it hits to melt the surface and leave the mark. There are no emissions or side effects and no consumables although sometimes an extraction system may be needed. Inkjet and chemical etching use a variety of chemicals to create the desired effect and have a small impact on the environment.
Laser marking, in all its forms is an excellent way to mark your products and ensure you are able to track or secure an item for life. The technology continues to advance and there will, no doubt, be improvements in the future. Choosing the right marking application for your product will be assisted by considering the points above and talking to a laser expert. In many cases, several methods will have the desired result. It’s up to you to decide. Whatever is your choice just make sure to deal with a reputable laser company; only the best machines deliver flawless markings.