Laser marking technology is one of the most important techniques in almost all types of manufacturing. This is because of the increasing demand from manufacturers and federal regulations to track and trace products.
One of the common questions which fabricators ask is: how do they choose the correct laser marking technology? The truth is, marking and engraving is not the same thing. There are various factors which go into choosing the best and perfect solution for your application.
Before making any important and big investment in laser marking equipment, consider these three major considerations and also replace parts like precitec nozzles or precitec laser head parts. It will help you choose the best laser technology:
Your first step is the type of material you are going to use for marking. Break down materials into two major parts i.e. organic and non-organic.
Organic materials are wood, glass, plastic, or paper products. Whereas, non-organic materials are steel, aluminum, or anything which sparks in a microwave.
So, firstly select the type of material you are going to use. This will give you the first step of clarity on what you want to engrave or mark.
2. Type of Mark:
Once you decide the material the next you need to define is the mark you want to look like. Ask yourself with questions like are you looking for deep marks? Or do you want contrast marks?
Depending on the type of marking technology you can easily create either dark or frosted marks. For example, if you are doing barcode technology and struggling with your vision systems ability to code then you need to frost backgrounds and dark marks.
3. Consider safety:
Firstly, you need to think about which part you are going to engrave. Will it be on the plant floor near operators, do you use enclosed space? Will this machine be replacing another type of technology like an inkjet?
Understand that the laser marker location is on an open shop floor and your laser supplier will help you to install the class 1 safety system. It includes a laser safe enclosure, warning lights, and curtains to form safe entryways.
If you have a class IV laser then you need a dedicated room. It meets certain safety conditions like area posting, protective eyewear, and a key switch so that you can still meet safety requirements.
Next up, let’s see which type of laser to use when.
1. CO2 lasers:
Generally, if you want to mark product information on organic materials along with a non-contrast mark then go for CO2 laser marking. With the wavelength of 10.6 microns, it is safe to use it in open floor situations. A CO2 marking machine is a best suitable solution while replacing other marking technologies like inkjet, dot peen, or labeling.
Remember, CO2 lasers provide you with a high mark quality and are a cost effective solution. They are useful for marking date codes, serial numbers, and other products like wood, glass, rubber, plastics, cardboards, etc.
2. Fiber lasers:
If you are marking non-organic materials like metal or plastic and want contrast in your mark then a fiber laser is the solution. Fiber lasers are at 1 micron wavelength, it should be in a separate room and enclosed with doors. They should follow the CDRH i.e. Center for Devices and Radiological Health safety considerations to work in safe environments.
Note: Fiber mark lasers offer a wide range of capabilities and produce high quality marks. You can easily engrave serial numbers, bar code, 2D Data matrix, and graphics on materials like metals, plastics, and ceramics.
Additionally, make sure to use laser parts like precitec nozzles, precitec laser head parts, etc. as they are easy to replace.
3. Diode Pump Lasers:
If you are marking on plastic or anodized aluminum with a high contrast mark then use diode pump laser technology. It has three times more power than conventional fiber lasers. This delivers short pulses which creates clean, crisp marks using minimal surface.
Note: Diode pumped lasers deliver razor sharp, high contrast marks which improves readability. Additionally, it also increases the traceability via throughput process.
Understanding different laser types and which to use when is important. We can understand there are plenty of different laser machines useful today. And many times it can be difficult to choose one over another. We hope this helps you overcome your confusion and helps you choose the correct laser.