Both CO2 lasers and fiber lasers are very popular for marking metal with barcodes, serial numbers, and logos.
The long lifetime, low maintenance requirements, and relatively low cost of fiber lasers make them ideal for industrial marking applications. The ink produced by this type of laser is permanent and high-contrast, and it does not decay over time.
CO2 laser engraving can only be carried out on treated metals (or pastes) prior to engraving. Marking agents are applied to bare metal with CO2 lasers, which create permanent marks. CO2 lasers are also affordable and fast, and they can mark wood, acrylic, and natural stone.
Almost any Windows-based operating system can be used to operate Epilog laser systems.
Differences between lasers
In light of the fact that different types of lasers react differently with various materials, there are some considerations to be made.
CO2 lasers take more time to mark metals, for instance, since metal marking agents must be coated or pre-treated first. Also, the marking agent needs to have high power and low speed to bond with the metal. The piece should be run at a slower speed and higher power if the mark is easily wiped off after lasering.
Metal can be marked with CO2 lasers without removing any material from it, ensuring that its tolerance and strength are not compromised. Furthermore, painted brass and anodized aluminum do not need pre-treatment.
Laser fibre engraving is the best way to engrave metals bare. Metal and plastic fibers can be marked with laser beams including aluminum, brass, copper, nickel-plated metals, stainless steel, among others.
In some cases, however, the laser wavelength will not mark certain materials, including transparent materials; the beam, for example, can pass through transparent materials, leaving markings on the engraving table instead. Despite fiber laser systems’ ability to mark organic materials such as wood and clear glass, it is not their best use.
Marks and their types
Depending on the type of material to be marked, fiber laser marking on metal can be done in a variety of ways. A laser is used to vaporize materials from objects through engraving. A cone-shaped mark often results from the beam’s shape. By repeating the cycle, the system creates deep engraving that will not wear under harsh environmental conditions.
The material beneath the top layer is usually revealed by ablation. Anodized and powdered metals can all be abraded.
A heated surface can also be marked. When metals are heated to high temperatures, annealing creates a layer of oxide that leaves a high-contrast mark. As the surface of a material melts, gas bubbles form which are trapped as it cools and cause a bubbled effect. During polishing, a metal surface is heated rapidly to reverse its color. A mirror-like finish is achieved as a result. Among other metals containing carbon and oxides, anodizing is used to treat steel alloys, iron, and titanium. Plastic is usually marked with foam, but it can also be used on stainless steel.
Materials to Consider
By changing laser data, such as speed, power, frequency, and focus, stainless steel may also be marked using annealing, etching, and polishing procedures. A fiber laser can often produce much more brightness than a CO2 laser with anodized aluminum. It engraves bare aluminum with gray shades, not black. Additionally, aluminum can be oxidized or colored after deep etching.
The laser creates a wide range of colors when it marks titanium. By adjusting the frequency, however, different colors of marks can be produced.
Best of Both Worlds
Companies with limited budgets or space should consider dual-source systems because of their flexibility and capabilities. When using one at the same time, the other is useless.
Marks ranging from white to grey to black on anodized aluminum
When aluminum is removed from its color or material, different marking effects can be achieved. The anodized layers can be completely or partially removed by laser.
A ceramic layer is formed on anodized aluminum (5-30 m thick) to protect the surface. Coloring the porous layer can produce decorative effects. With different laser wavelengths (and the subsequent removal of varied material layers), different results can also be achieved.
For instance, anodized aluminum is frequently used in machine construction. The Housings and Covers section contains screws, covers, and other parts.
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