Not long ago, I discussed some of the factors you should consider when deciding which marking technology to use: material type, part function, geometry, surface finish/roughness, coating, mark quality, mark dimension/part size, and serialization - all play a part in this process. Today’s post digs a bit deeper into selecting the right marking technology for your specific application by looking at a concise listing of the pros and cons of each of the major marking technologies: inkjet, dot peen, chemical etching, and laser marking.
Product traceability over its complete lifecycle is one of the key issues driving marking technology today. Manufacturers are looking for cradle-to-grave traceability to improve product quality and make sure all their suppliers fall in line with quality standards. Oh, and let’s not forget they also want to make it easier and less costly to engage in product recalls.
- What is the difference between a Class 1 and a Class 4 laser, and what are the safety requirements for each?
- Which laser safety glasses should I use?
These are legitimate concerns, because even small amounts of laser light can result in permanent eye injuries, and higher power lasers can burn the skin as well. And don't be fooled into thinking that you're safe just because you can't see the laser light - infrared lasers are particularly hazardous, since the eye's "blink reflex" is triggered only by visible light!
Laser marking is rapidly replacing older product marking technology, especially for direct marking applications which aid in tracking and traceability. From medical devices to automotive and aerospace parts, part information is showing up everywhere, either in the form of human readable alphanumerics and barcodes or Data-Matrix™ codes. Laser marking is a fast, clean marking technology, which also has benefits like flexible automation, improved environmental profile, and low cost of ownership. There are a few different technologies out there - and the “best” one for your application depends on the kind of mark you’re trying to make, and the material you’re using.
We often talk about our laser markers as being "flexible" and "capable of making many different kinds of marks." Sounds great, doesn’t it? Yes! But what exactly does that mean? Well, it means that depending how the laser is controlled, the mark you make may be just a surface effect – a color change - with little or no material removed, or it can remove significant amounts of material, leaving a groove that you can both see and feel. Below is a list of several types of marks and typical applications for the same. Note that all of these marks were made with a single (flexible!) fiber laser marker.
In our last blog, we explored when laser markers make sense in comparison to other marking technologies. Key reasons included high mark and material variation, fragile material, and mark durability. But did you know laser markers can also be used for machining? Yep - your laser marker can do double duty as a micromachining system!
Product identification, serialization and tracking are key elements for any production environment. Parts are labeled with all kinds of marks: alpha-numeric serial numbers, date stamps, barcodes, etc.. There are a lot of marking methods available out there including dot-peen, chemical etching, pad printing, ink-jet printing, and laser marking. As manufacturers of laser markers and laser marking systems, we, of course, believe that there are many good reasons why laser marking makes sense in your manufacturing operation?