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, continuous wave, green, or UV laser machine, laser marking encompasses a wide variety of applications. The most common types of laser marking applications are:
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.
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 released is measured in wavelengths or nanometers (NM). The higher the wavelength, the more powerful the laser beam.
For example, a UV laser marker, which has a wavelength of around 355NM, offers a lower power for marking heat-sensitive materials such as plastic and glass. Because UV laser markers and other machines in the "cold laser" category emit less energy, they are great solutions for many organic or soft products, as they are less likely to burn the material. 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-permanent 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.
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.
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:
Selecting the Right Laser MarkerAs you research solutions for your marking needs, here are some resources to help with your evaluation:
Materials best suited for a laser marker: