What is Laser Marking and How is the Process Used? | MECCO

Laser Applications Laser Marking

What is Laser Marking?

In simplest terms, laser marking is a permanent process that uses a beam of concentrated light to create a lasting mark on a surface. Typically performed with a fiber, pulsed, or continuous wave laser machine, laser marking encompasses a wide variety of applications. The most common types of laser marking applications are annealing, carbon migration, discolorationengraving, and etching.

Laser marking can be automated and processed at high speeds, while leaving permanent traceability marks on a range of materials, including steel, titanium, aluminum, copper, ceramic, plastic, glass, wood, paper, and cardboard. Parts and products can be marked with text (including serial numbers and part numbers); machine-readable data (such as barcodes, Unique ID codes, and 2D Data Matrix codes); or graphics.
 

How Laser Marking Works

Laser marking works by using a focused beam of light to mark the surface of a material. When the beam interacts with the material’s surface, it alters the material’s properties and appearance. This concentrated beam targets only a specified area, allowing the laser marking machine to create precise, high quality, high-contrast marks that are easy to read or scan on virtually any surface. This feature makes laser marking ideal for applications where accuracy and permanency are critical to success.

The Science of Lasers

The word LASER is actually an acronym for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. A laser beam begins as an atom that is stimulated to release particles of light. This light can be concentrated and directed toward a laser marking area. The energy that is release is measured in wavelengths or nanometers (NM). The higher the wavelength, the more powerful the laser beam.

For example, a green or “cold” laser, which has a wavelength of only 532NM, offers a lower power for marking heat-sensitive materials. A fiber laser, on the other hand, operates at 1070NM, delivering significantly higher power to mark harder materials, such as metal.

Compared to other non-permeant marking processes such as printing or labeling, laser marking uses no consumables and requires less maintenance. Our team also offers fast and reliable customer support, including two-hour response times and free marking samples, for maximum up-time and system productivity.

How to Use a Laser Marking Machine

There are several types of laser marking systems, and each operates slightly differently. The correct process to use the machine also depends on the material you’re working with and the application you’re using. MECCO offers a list of resources to help you operate your machine and troubleshoot any issues, from how-to videos to detailed documentation.

When using any laser marking machine, it’s important to follow all safety guidelines. Thanks to a variety of preventative measures, including safety enclosure options, laser marking is a relatively safe process.

Laser Marking Benefits

Manufacturers can gain many benefits from the laser marking process, whether it is basic part identification and branding or complete traceability to track and trace parts from cradle to grave. Direct part marking with a laser marking machine delivers durable, readable marks. The results of these high quality marks include:

  • Greater operational efficiency and productivity with less waste and downtime
  • More visibility and accountability throughout the supply chain
  • Minimized costly threats such as quality and counterfeiting issues
  • Ensured compliance with industry regulations 

Materials best suited for laser marking:

  • Steel
  • Stainless Steel
  • Titanium
  • Aluminum 
  • Copper
  • Ceramic
  • Plastic 
  • Glass
  • Wood
  • Paper 
  • Cardboard

Laser marking is used in a variety of industrial applications:

Laser Marking Application Videos

See SMARTmark Lasers in Action

  • Fiber Laser Marking Capabilities on Brass

    Fiber Laser Marking Capabilities on Brass

    Watch MECCO's SMARTmark 20W Fiber Laser as it marks on brass. See how various settings create different marks, such as frost marks, dark marks, and engraving.

  • Fiber Laser Marking Capabilities on Copper

    Fiber Laser Marking Capabilities on Copper

    See how various settings create different marks on copper, including dark marks, cleanup pass background & engraving.

  • Fiber Laser Marking on Stainless Steel

    Fiber Laser Marking on Stainless Steel

    Watch as a 20W fiber laser marks stainless steel: This video demonstrates laser engraving, carbon migration and other laser marking capabilities.

  • Fiber Laser Marking White Polycarbonate

    Fiber Laser Marking White Polycarbonate

    Watch MECCO's SMARTmark 20W Fiber Laser create a variety of mark types on white polycarbonate plastic.

  • Laser Mark Multiple Focal Distances

    Laser Mark Multiple Focal Distances

    Laser marking multiple focal distances quickly is made easier with the 2.5D capabilities of our SMARTmark Fiber Laser.

  • Laser Marking Cork Coaster

    Laser Marking Cork Coaster

    MECCO uses the MECCOmark CO2 Laser to mark the 50th Anniversary logo ahead of the Offshore Technology Conference.

FIND THE RIGHT LASER MARKER FOR YOUR APPLICATION

Marking solutions are not one-size-fits-all. There are a number of factors that go into choosing the best technology to get the best results. How do you choose the right marking technology for your specific application?

Download Infographic

Choose the Right Laser Marking Technology Infographic