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Using a Laser for Marking Material

Using a Laser for Marking Material

laser marked partIf you’re looking for a way to permanently mark industrial or commercial parts then this post may be one you’ll want to read.  Whether you want to ensure traceability or boost branding, laser marking systems are cost effective and highly flexible. Laser marking technologies can mark and etch almost any material and surface.

Laser marking systems are a very common choice for permanent product identification as well as applications where product traceability is paramount. Laser marking can encode a wide variety of information, like:


– 1 and 2 dimensional bar codes
– 2D data matrices
– Material flow information
– Graphics and manufacturers’ logos
– Production date codes
– Serial numbers
– …and anything else you might want to adorn your parts with!

Laser marking is a broad field, with many different options. Most industrial laser marking systems are Nd:YAG, CO2, or diode based.  Laser companies like Epilog or Trotec laser offer laser marking and laser engraving systems for sale capable of cutting or marking organic or metal materials.

Fiber laser marking machines use an optical fiber to deliver the beam from an Nd:YAG or diode laser to the material, which allows for considerable flexibility. There are even hand held laser marking devices (currently being used by the Russian auto industry for VIN engraving) that use fiber optics to deliver the beam to a hand held marking unit. This allows for marking even very odd-shaped surfaces.  

Laser marking occurs primarily using infrared wavelengths at 10,640nm and 1064nm. Marking systems may operate at power levels as low as 3 watts (for very sensitive materials) and as much as 200 watts or more (for high speed marking and highly reflective metals).

No matter the technology or the power level, laser marking systems require very little maintenance and can be run from a standard PC, accepting drawings in CorelDRAW and AutoCAD.

Laser marking technologies can process:
– Metals
– Ceramics
– Plastics
– Composites

as well as
– Coated,
– Bare,
– and painted surfaces.

Laser marking can be used to apply:
– Text
– Logos
– Bar codes
– Graphics
– ID matrices

…and laser marking can serialize parts and tags to aid in process tracking or identification too.

Laser marking has seen wide adoption in the automotive, aerospace, electronics, and medical industries, where the ability to mark a broad variety of materials very precisely without contact is highly prized.

Many production lines use laser marking to replace older, maintenance-intensive dye or impact-based systems.

The promotional industry and custom gift markets have adopted laser marking wholeheartedly, quickly grasping the tremendous possibilities inherent in being able to engrave high resolution text and graphics in nearly any surface.  You can see forums or reviews of laser marking companies here:
http://www.cnczone.com/forums/general-laser-engraving-cutting-machine-discussion/156252-fs-laser-just-lost-sale.html, Full Spectrum Laser.

CerMark / TherMark

Traditional laser engraving or marking leaves behind a rough area in the desired marking pattern, as if it had been sand-blasted through a mask or (in the case of heat sensitive materials like wood) burned with a wood burning iron.

It is often desirable to create colored markings. In the case of metals, the ability to create a highly durable colored marking is valuable. This is where CerMark/Thermark materials come in. These are thermally bonded pigments. Like regular laser marking, they are permanent and both tamper- and environment- resistant.  See a video of laser marked metal using Cermark below:

Using them is quite simple. The pigment is sprayed on evenly. The material is then engraved / processed as normal. The heat of the laser changes the pigment color to the final desired one and bonds it to the surface in one step.

Instead of using labels or printing technologies, Cermark / Thermark allows you to permanently mark the parts with the same contrast and resolution of your previous solution.

Whereas direct laser marking has limited contrast and works poorly with some surfaces (particularly chromed ones), Cermark / Thermark has enough contrast to be machine readable and is capable of bonding to substrates that are very poor at ordinary laser marking.


Laser Marking Services

If the capital expenditure of a laser marking machine is not within the budget at the moment, laser marking services are available that will process your parts on a per-job basis. Your local engraving shop probably offers at least surface marking and engraving. 

Depending on their equipment and capabilities, they may be able to handle plastics, rubber, anodized aluminum, stainless, titanium, or even bare aluminum. If their laser can handle your parts, they can mark logos and graphics next to serial numbers too.

Your local laser marking service will have plenty of experience with different materials. They’ll be used to handling custom work as well as production orders. For high resolution or detailed texts, they will be able to say if their machine has the tolerances needed to do the job. There may even be an in-house graphic designer to help with your logo, if you need a hand.

Laser Reviews:
Some company start ups will have smaller china machines for sale.  full spectrum laser reveiws resells China made machinery just recently.

Ebay Laser Cutter – Buyer Beware!

Laser cutting has widely become one of the most popularly used cutting methods lately.  Not only due to its high precision (precise to the width of a human hair), but also because of its cost-effectiveness. As compared to conventional cutting methods, a laser cutter can achieve accurate and even cutting to the smallest detail, no matter how intricate the design is. Having become popular and the most demanded product, it is now available for sale on many e-commerce websites among which Ebay is on top of the list.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of people unaware of the reality of buying a laser cutting machine on Ebay.  It’s usually a Chinese version of one and the forums are littered with issues.

The small 40 watt Ebay laser is cheap but long term rather expensive.

No doubt, it’s difficult to decide which is best for your needs when you have so many options for sale online but as you say “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.” Therefore, its recommended to actually understand that why you shouldn’t buy a Chinese laser cutter from china through ebay.
Listed below is a general consensus of buying a Chinese laser from Ebay:

-Poor quality of the machine

– Lack of technical & customer support and other services

– Major time difference

– Expensive  considering the quality

– Delayed delivery

– Loose wires, parts, screws & badly crimped connectors

– Trouble installing software

– No locks or safety features

– faulty exhaust fan

– Poor label translations

–  Super small cutting area (like working out of a shoe box)
So, these are just the basics I’ve found personally, but the bad is that there are many other issues that you’ll find on forums.  There is another ugly side and some real issues with the chinese machines I’ve experienced…

-No automated up/down Z-axis, No interlocks, poor door clamps, and finally paint or frame / cabinet damage from collision
What are the uses of CO2 laser cutter?
Co2 lasers are basically designed for intricate cutting and engraving functions. Used to cut mild steel, titanium, stainless steel, aluminum, paper, wood, plastic, wax and fabric, it is one of the most common laser cutting equipment used in the production and fabrication facilities nowadays due to its adaptability.  CO2 laser cutter machines are also of great use in the architecture and design industry for the modeling.
You’ll be surprised to know that the engravings on the awards are also as a result of this incredible laser cutter. Those intricate engravings that you see on the awards could possibly take months if done by hand but fortunately with the use of these amazing cutters, it’s just a matter of minutes. Not to ignore the beautiful and finely engraved wooden showpieces that we all have at our home and offices. Be it photo frames, a statue or any wooden utensil, all that is easily done in a desktop laser cutting machine. And have you ever thought of a personalized laptop? Well, that’s what the kindness of a laser cutter would do when you need any sort of laptop engravings. Isn’t it wonderful? Those beautiful dresses and designer fabrics that you purchase from stores is all styled and delivered by this machine. The glass etching that you see on the mirrors and beer mugs are so elegant and classy. Those precisions and beautiful designs are all achieved through these machines. All types of 3D design boards and sign plates can be easily made with the magical laser cutter in a very short time which has never been possible ever before.

BIG TROUBLE WITH CHINESE LASER SOFTWARE…

The Buying Guide

 

At ebay, you may be able to grab a deal on a 40w laser cutter for less than $500, but that’s entirely at your risk.  You’ll probably only get 30 watts from a 40 watt tube – assuming you get the machine!

However, importing the laser machine via reputed U.S based company can be a win-win decision.
The terrible experiences of many will open your eyes to the world of fraud. Therefore, people who have experienced it, advice that buying directly from china can be a loss because the problem with most the companies is that they produce machinery, lacking quality. There is a perception among many that buying directly from china is one of the best decisions they have made whether in terms of cost-effectiveness or quality but them find themselves at the wrong path and realize the folly only after it’s too late.
Recent surveys have shown that, it is always beneficial to trust US based companies when buying laser cutting machinery. Here’s why:They have collaboration with some of the best companies in china dedicated to produce only high quality products.From packing to shipping and shipping to delivery service is simply hassle-free and trustworthy.
You need not worry about the hassles that could take place during the customs clearance, which usually do when shipped directly from China. The U.S based companies are recognized and regarded for conducting the quality checks that further ensure the best output of the product. This is done perfectly several times before selling them to a customer and this indeed is one of the most satisfactory aspects for a customer purchasing any machinery.
What to look for when buying a laser cutter?
Technical Support
This is first and the foremost issue that most customers experience. Because lasers are complicated machines and to be true, they do break and need to be repaired, it’s important that the support service is great. Make sure the company you buy from is not only reliable but also offer excellent support service even after buying the machine.
Determine your needs
Before you start searching for a laser cutter, you should be clear with what you are going to produce out of the laser. For wood engravings, you’ll need a more powerful laser than you would for cardboard. On the other hand, the size of the material is also one of the key factors to consider when choosing the cutter because the size of the raw material that you will put into the laser will affect the size of the surface you need.
Power
Power is referred to as the power output of the laser. The more powerful it is the denser, quick and fine material it can cut and engrave. The power starts from 40 watts to 100 watts. So, make sure of your needs and off course the budget before you decide on the machine. If you take all the things in to consideration. Then you would be able to take the perfect decision.