Modern technologies have allowed us so much particularly in the ways we do business and manufacture products. What once took months or even years to accomplish by hand can now be done with machines that are automated and programmed through the latest software solutions and smart devices. In terms of dangerous work and industries that involve equipment and tools that require a lot of skill and precision, the use of these novelties has proved revolutionary. One of such advancements are certainly lasers which have found their way to different industries and practices.
In this article we will be discussing laser marking, mainly what it implies and how it works. It is a fascinating thing that not many people know about. With that in mind, the article will double as a sort of guide with the most important tips one needs in order to understand the laser marking process. Continue on to find out more if you are interested and for additional information as well as one of the best laser marking services in the industry, read more.
1. What is It?
First and foremost, in order to understand it we must first tell you what it is. The process of laser marking allows manufacturers to add colors and/or shapes on numerous different working surfaces with precision and accuracy. You can think of it as a coloring process that involves no physical contact. The laser makes marks on polished, smooth surfaces both for practical and artistic purposes, and the tools that allow this process are able to make all sorts of finishes, tones, and colors. The process has many advantages, it is widely used, and it has become a standard in many different industries that require quick and precise markings on a regular basis. As capable as we are as a race, we can never replicate such precision and speed so the use of lasers is the best thing we can use in these instances.
2. How does it Work?
In theory, it is quite easy to understand how laser marking works. The laser is aimed at a surface that needs to be handled and it makes predetermined marks and etchings that are permanent once they are made. Concentrated heat is what the laser actually is. It can remove, discolor, and otherwise change the layers of the material underneath to make fine marks that would otherwise be impossible to make. By changing the wavelengths and power of the laser, different types of markings can be made and on different material. All in all, it is a simple process to picture in our minds as lasers are hardly a brand new concept nowadays. Still, this is considered fine craftsmanship even though the machine is the one doing it. An employee still needs to program it and feed the right information and design so that the laser can cut exactly as needed.
3. Know the Laser Marking Methods
Considering the sheer amount of instances in which laser marking is needed, there are also many different methods at our disposal. Not all of them are equally popular or widespread, but some of the most commonly used include annealing, carbonizing, foaming, removing, and staining.
In annealing, the laser oxidizes the top layer of the material and changes the color of the surface. It is used for more complex labels and graphics and can be done on metal and non-metal surfaces.
Carbonizing implies heating up the surface of non-metal materials to create darker marks. Oxygen and/or hydrogen are released from the surface which leaves darker tones and a lot of contrast. Wood and leather are two of the most used surfaces.
Foaming is most commonly used with plastics when there is a need to create raised textures. The process creates a bubbled surface as the laser precisely affects lines and/or patterns that diffuse light.
Removing, as the name implies, is all about stripping the top coating of materials wherever the laser is directed. It is used for higher contrast when top layers have multiple colors. Layered surfaces like aluminum, coated metals, foils, films, and laminates are usually treated with removing.
Lastly, staining is when the beam of the laser causes heat-based chemical reactions on the surface it is treating. When this happens, different surfaces generate different colors. Discoloration is something that is generally a problem with light substrates in staining.
4. Learn the Many Advantages
If you were wondering why exactly we are using lasers for such markings, it is because they allow a handful of great benefits. The marks are durable and permanent, first and foremost. The quality is consistent as long as the laser is operating optimally, while the contrast and high resolution are guaranteed. The process is also very quick which is always a plus no matter the industry. Speaking of the equipment itself, it is safe and reliable, built to last and operate in extreme heavy-industry environments. The instructions are clear and the operation process is simple and straightforward. When it comes to end results and efficiency, it is as high as it gets which is why laser marking has been a standard and a common practice for years now.
5. Find Out about the Wide Selection of Materials
As mentioned already, there are different materials that can be treated with lasers when there is a need to alter their surfaces. The easiest distinction is into two categories, metals and non-metals. Metals that are frequently laser marked are steel, stainless steel, titanium, and aluminum. Non-metals include wood, glass, plastic, and leather. As discussed, some methods and techniques are reserved for only one type of material, while others are more versatile and can be applied to multiple materials.
6. Think about its Applications in Industries
You are perhaps wondering what industries use laser marking processes the most. Well, the answer will probably not surprise you. Some of the most advanced and complex industries rely on the regular use of lasers to change and mark their surfaces. Aerospace, automotive, and electronic industries rely heavily on this technology. Medical and military branches do not fall behind much in terms of their reliance. Of course, industries that deal with artistic and designer products and services also use lasers for their beautiful patterns and markings, on metals as well as wood or leather.