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Can a Fiber Laser Mark Wood?

by Joshua Christley
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Fiber vs CO2 Laser on Wood

A lot of customers who operate a Fiber Laser for marking projects may want to make the most of their investment and try it on new materials.  A common question that arises is: “Can my fiber laser mark on wood?”

The quick answer is “yes.” 

The correct answer is “no.”  

What happens when you use a Fiber Laser on wood?

Let me explain. I said “yes” because you can technically use a fiber laser on wood. But would you want to? 

Anyone who has experimented can attest that you can light wood on fire with a fiber laser. That is really all you are doing with the wood: starting a campfire.  

 

Fiber Laser: Uncontrolled absorption effects from a short wavelength


Why does wood react this way to a Fiber Laser?

The 1064nm wavelength of a fiber laser transmits partially through the organic structure based on its shorter wavelength. This is why 1064nm is used for medical procedures like laser eye surgery. At this wavelength, the laser beam travels through skin or eye tissues to do its work non-invasively at a deeper level. 

When the beam travels into wood, heat builds up. It is absorbed uncontrollably because of the variances in the wood material. Eventually, the wood will ignite and is then fuel for the intense heat (hence, the campfire scenario).  

Due to the uncontrolled absorption, an uncontrolled mark is the result. If you have spent time trying to force this technique, it will produce an uneven looking mark, with some places charred and others vaguely representing anything at all.  
 


What is the correct laser to use to mark wood?

To successfully mark wood without the safety risk of starting a fire, use a CO2 laser. The 10600nm wavelength is 10x larger and is easily absorbed by organic materials, reacting with wood like a true cutting tool.


The results are clean and controlled marks, free from charring and campfires. Our customers have used the CO2 to successfully add branding marks or traceability information to their wooden products like furniture, gun stocks, floor planks, pallets, barrels, and more.

 

CO2 Laser: Even absorption from a longer wavelength


​Looking to mark on wood, glass, or plastic parts? Take a look at our sample mark gallery, features, and specification for MECCO's CO2 Laser Marking Machine.

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