Metal markings with lasers: Things to consider

With both CO2 and fiber lasers, lasers are very popular for marking metals with barcodes, serial numbers, and logos.

Since fiber lasers have a long operating life, minimal maintenance, and relatively low cost, they are suitable for industrial marking applications. The laser marks produced by this type of laser are permanent and unaffected by part integrity.

A CO2 laser cannot engrave on bare metal without treating it with a spray (or paste) before engraving. Marking agents are bonded to bare metal by CO2 lasers, resulting in permanent marks. Lasers for CO2 marking are fast as well as affordable, and can mark wood, acrylic, and natural stone.

Epilog’s laser systems are remarkably simple to use and can be controlled with almost any computer program running on Windows.

Lasers and their differences

Certain considerations must be taken into account because different laser types have different effects on different materials.

Due to the requirement for coating or pretreatment with a metal marking agent, CO2 lasers require more time when marking metals. The marking agent should bond quickly and strongly with metal. After lasering, wipe off the mark and run the piece slower and at higher power.

CO2 lasers do not remove material from metal when marking it, so both the tolerance and strength of the metal are unaffected. The anodized aluminum and painted brass that do not require pretreatment also deserve attention.

Metals can be engraved with fibre lasers since they are bare. Laser fibers are an excellent way to mark aluminum, brass, copper, nickel-plated metals, stainless steel, and many other types of metals and engineered plastics.

The wavelength of the laser emitted by the device may be difficult to mark certain materials; for example, the beam can pass through transparent materials and leave marks on the engraving table. Fiber lasers are capable of marking organic materials like wood, clear glass, and leather, but that is not necessarily their best application.

A description of the types of trademarks

Depending on the type of metal to be marked, there are a number of methods available for fiber Laser marking on metal. With laser engraving, material is vaporized from the surface of an object. A cone-shaped mark results from the shape of the beam. Repeating the cycle creates deep engravings that won’t wear away even in the harshest conditions.

The top layer of ablation is usually removed to reveal the material beneath. Abrasion can be performed on powdered and anodized metals alike.

 

Heating an object can also mark its surface. As a result of exposing metals to high temperatures, annealing leaves a high-contrast mark. A raised effect is caused by gas bubbles becoming trapped when a material is melted, creating a foam. By swiftly heating a metal surface, a polishing process reverses its color. Mirror-like reflections result from the end process. Among the metals that are commonly annealed are steel alloys, iron, titanium, and metals containing high levels of carbon and metal oxide. Marking plastic with foam is the most common use of the material, but stainless steel can also be marked with foam. Usually, the best results are achieved when polishing darker metals with matte finishes.

Considering the following materials

By changing the laser’s speed, power, frequency, and focus, stainless steel can also be marked by annealing, etching, and polishing techniques. Anodized aluminum is often brighter than standard aluminum when using fiber lasers; CO2 lasers are more expensive than aluminum lasers. When it engraves bare aluminum, the fiber laser produces gray shades, not black ones. Additionally, oxidizers and color fills can be used to deep etch aluminum.

In addition to Laser marking systems titanium, lasers are also capable of marking titanium with a wide array of colors. In this case, however, the frequency can be adjusted to produce different colors of marks.

The best of both worlds

These systems have a lot of versatility and can handle any situation, which makes them a great option for companies with budget restrictions or space constraints. As a result of this method, one cannot be used while the other is being used.

Anodized aluminum with white, grey, and black marks

The color or material of aluminum can be removed to create different marking effects. Parts or all of an anodized layer can be removed by laser.

A layer of ceramic is applied to anodized aluminium (5 to 30 m thick) to protect and make it scratch-resistant. The porous layer can be colored to create decorative effects. With different laser wavelengths, different effects can be achieved (including removing thinner or thicker layers of material).

Anodized aluminum is commonly used in machine-building, for example. You will find items such as housings, covers, screws and other related items in this section.


Considerations

 

Additionally to marking stainless steel with lasers, stainless steel can be etched, polished, or annealed using different laser parameters, including speed, power, and frequency. The anodized aluminum surface of fiber lasers often produces more brightness than CO2 lasers. Aluminum is engraved with gray instead of black. Aluminum can be oxidized and colored as well as deep etched.

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