Laser engraving is the most often used laser marking method for product traceability and identification. Making lasting marks on various materials entails utilising laser engraver equipment. The accuracy of laser engraving technology is excellent. As a result, it is the preferred choice for labelling components and goods in numerous industries, particularly the automotive and aerospace sectors.
Before using the technology for your project, this article will tell you all you need to know about it.
How Does a Laser Engraver Work?
Like it eliminates layers from a material's surface, a laser engraving machine's laser beam acts as a chisel to form markings or cuts. The laser engraver delivers extreme energy levels to specific regions to create the heat necessary to evaporate the material's surface into vapour.
Types of Laser Engravers
There are five different kinds of laser engravers available for commercial use. Here are some of their characteristics and uses.
CO2 lasers with sealed-tube laser systems and galvo-steered beams function at a wavelength of 10,600 nm. They are, therefore, the best tool for engraving organic materials like ceramic, glass, wood, plastic, etc. Metals may also be utilised with them. The metal must first be treated with a specialised marking compound that adheres to the component after marking and leaves a high-contrast, permanent mark. CO2 lasers are costly, having substantial operational and maintenance costs, notwithstanding their effectiveness. Due to the additional procedure, they also use a lot of energy and have low throughput.
With a power output of 20–50 watts, fibre lasers are potent. Due to the great degree of filtering of monochromatic light beams, they also have a broad spectrum of material compatibility. They are, therefore, very well-liked marking devices. Excellent beam quality, extreme durability, flexibility, and suitability for use on intricate surfaces are all characteristics of fibre lasers. They are ineffective for marking thick or shiny surfaces, though.
MOPA Laser Engraver Machines
By comparison, fibre lasers and MOPA laser engraver devices have similar designs and appearances. However, the fact that the Master Oscillator Power Amplifier offers the machines a high power efficiency indicates that they have different internal technologies. The device produces a highly coherent beam and amplifies without losing any of its characteristics. Compared to the 500 kHz of the fibre laser, the frequency is increased to 2700 kHz.
Since they are so flexible, MOPA lasers are appropriate for the following:
- Steel with multiple colour markings
- Anodised aluminium with high-contrast black markings
- Plastics with high contrast marking
UV lasers use UV light with a wavelength of 355 nm. They are suited for engraving materials with a low thermal threshold since they do not create significant heat like the other machines. They play an important role in marking circuit boards, electronics, and microchips in the electronic industry. UV lasers utilise power well. However, because of their low power output and poor heat generation, they have a restricted capacity to engrave while working with materials like metals.
YAG lasers are a common choice of portable, lightweight laser engraver equipment for engraving thin metal sheets. They work well for branding materials like steel and aluminium. They generate low-power laser beams, in contrast to conventional engraving devices. As a result, neither during nor after marking material deformation occurs.
Various Materials Used in the Laser Engraving Process
Many different materials may be engraved using a laser. Here are some materials you might want to consider for your project.
You may also use the method to vaporise coated metals, making it appropriate for these materials. As a result, the coating can be successfully removed.
The heart of many industries is the most popular material for laser engraving, metal. Iron, gold, stainless steel, silver, and aluminium are some metals that work well with the procedure. The best marking devices for metals are fibre engraver machines.
Plastics like acrylic and POM are frequently used for laser engraving. The laser engraver's power needs to be adequately controlled and suited to the materials' absorption spectrum and any other additives that may be present. CO2 and UV laser markers are more suitable for plastics.
Additionally, process-compatible woods. Due to the intense heat, they are frequently seen as a fire risk. You may adjust the laser marker's strength to let you etch wood without it catching on fire. You may use machines to engrave various wood products, including MDF, cardboard, and plywood.
The Benefits of Laser Engraving
Due to its benefits, such as rapid production speed, accuracy, and versatility with diverse materials, laser engraving is well-known in the business. The procedure does, however, have certain drawbacks. Here are a few benefits you ought to be aware of.
Due to the non-contact marking procedure, there is no material contamination or mechanical or physical property deformation of the component. Contrary to inkjet marking, where chemicals may not be compatible with the materials, and dot peening, where the stylus impacts the materials, this does not involve doing so.
Diverse Variety of Materials
Unlike marking technologies like dot peening and chemical etching, it is suitable for various materials like metals, wood, and plastics. Customers now have additional design and material options thanks to this.
Longevity of Marks
High contrast and permanence are features of laser-etched markings that make them more visible. As a result, they can withstand various environmental factors, including abrasion, heat, and chemicals. It contrasts with the marking technique, such as inkjet marking, where the marking chemical might wash off in unfavourable settings. Laser-etched marks are helpful for product identification and traceability due to their longevity.
Although the precise precision depends on the kind of machines and their parts, laser engravers have great precision and accuracy and can engrave at +/-.01". Because of its accuracy, you may use it in the jewellery, medicinal, and electrical industries.
Quick Production Cycle
Depending on the material, design, and laser power, the procedure is quick and can be completed in 3 to 5 minutes. The process is crucial in rapid production because of its speed.
Due to their repeatability, laser markers are appropriate for the batch marking process. The machine's software stores the design and can mark and accumulate the same markings on various or similar elements. Faster turnaround times and aesthetically beautiful products are guaranteed through repeatability.
Sustainable Production Methods
Unlike inkjet marking, it doesn't require consumables like chemicals that might damage the environment. Additionally, they don't make any noise, unlike dot-peening machines. The procedure is, therefore, clean, energy-efficient, and beneficial to the environment.
Laser engraver equipment may be a valuable addition to your business and production. These devices do require a substantial investment, though. Make sure you have enough workspace and electrical support before you begin looking for new laser engraver equipment. Additionally, to safeguard you and your laser engraving equipment, you should have ventilation and cooling systems and the Emblaser 2 is a laser making it safe to use in any education classroom with a combination of its air filtration unit.