What Is The Best Way To Mark Metal With A Laser?

Lasers can engrave barcodes, serial numbers, and logos on metal using CO2 or fiber lasers.

Fiber lasers are excellent for marking industrial products due to their long operating lives and low maintenance needs. The lasers still produce sharp marks if the part integrity is compromised.

CO2 laser engraving requires a protective coating (or paste) to be applied to the metal. Marking agents are applied with CO2 lasers to mark the metal temporarily. In addition to wood, acrylic, stone, and other materials, CO2 lasers are also capable of etching.

Aside from that, Epilog laser systems can be used with almost any Windows application.

There are several types of lasers

There is a lot to consider because there are different types of lasers and materials.

Metals can be marked with CO2 lasers as well, but coating or pre-treating the metals requires more time. Apart from adhering to metal quickly, marking agents must also be fast-acting and low-pressure. When pieces can be cleaned after lasering, increasing the power is the best option.

The CO2 laser also maintains tolerances and strength while removing no material. Aluminum and brass that have been anodized and painted do not require pretreatment.

A fiber laser is the most effective way to engrave metal. Marking with laser fibers can be done on a wide range of materials, such as aluminum, nickel-plated metals, and stainless steel.

Nonetheless, certain materials may be marked by a laser marker beam emanating from the device. Through transparent materials, a beam can inscribe an engraving table. Organic materials such as wood, clear glass, and leather are not the best options for fiber laser systems.

Marks of various types

Marking metal with a fiber laser can be determined by the type of metal to be marked. During laser engraving, the surface of the object is vaporized. A beam’s shape is often reminiscent of a cone, therefore, marks are often reminiscent of cones. During some operations, repeated operations are used to achieve deep engravings that withstand harsh conditions.

Ablation is typically used to expose the lower layer of a material. It is possible to ablate powdered metals and anodized metals.

 The surfaces of objects can be marked by heating them. An oxide layer forms on the metals after the annealing process, resulting in a high contrast. When a material cools, trapped gas bubbles lead to the formation of raised surfaces. The melted material forms foam when it melts. Changing the color of metal can be accomplished by polishing. 

You will be able to see a mirror-like finish on your metal. The anodized metals include steel alloys, iron, titanium, and other metals that contain carbon or oxide. Foam can also be used to mark stainless steel, but plastic is more common. The best finishing for matte finishes is polishing.

Following are the materials to consider

Stainless steel can be annealed, etched, and polished. It can also have its speed, power, frequency, and focus changed. In general, fiber lasers on aluminum anodized with anodizing are brighter than CO2 lasers. Aluminum is engraved with gray shades instead of black lasers using fiber lasers. Adding color to aluminum or oxidizing it before deep etching is also an option.

Titanium is marked with various colors by lasers as they operate. Nonetheless, it is possible to adjust the color.

Markings in three different colors on anodized aluminum

Aluminum can be marked differently by removing particular materials and colors. Using a laser, anodized layers can be partially or completely removed. 

For aluminum to be scratch-resistant, a ceramic coating (5-30 mm thick) is applied. This can produce decorative effects with colored porous layers. Techniques and materials can affect the results when varying laser wavelengths are used.

 How are laser markings and engravings different?

Despite their similarities, they have very important differences. Furthermore, how deeply each technology penetrates differs in addition to how it looks.

Some materials are actually removed when they are engraved or etched with a laser. This does not occur when lasers are used, which merely mark surfaces. It is vital that laser engraving and laser etching be understood.

 Laser markings can be traced all the way to the end

Permanent laser marking is an advantage of a price laser marking machine. In addition, marking at the beginning of production has the advantage of being more cost-effective.

It doesn’t matter what kind of coating or shot blasting you use — the markings will still be high quality. The barcode or alphanumeric serial number will not be damaged.

It is not possible to purchase consumables

The use of chemicals and ink free marking eliminates consumables, increasing efficiency.

Lasers are used for marking

When lasers interact with surfaces, they alter them slightly.

  • It is possible to make high-contrast marks with low-power beams without damaging the material if the beam is moved slowly across it.
  • When heated, lasers oxidize materials, creating their black spectra.
  • Metal surfaces are annealed at low temperatures.
  • In the process, no damage is done to the surface.

Separating laser marking from laser engraving requires consideration of several factors.

Some places don’t offer it, but there are others.

  • Lasers can be used to color and darken plastics and metals by charring or annealing them.
  • By using lasers, these items can be annealed, migrated, foamed, or colored.
  • Medical device parts can also be made of metal and stainless steel, as well as plastic.
  • In addition to bar codes, laser markers are able to mark UIDs, QR codes, and logos.