Laser marking on plastic
Plastic engraving machine

Foto-Applicazioni-Plastiche Plastic

Do you need to mark plastics?
All Plastics are not created equal

Plastic materials have vastly different chemical compositions. In fact, polycarbonate, polyamide, polyester, PE, PET, ABS, to name a few, are all plastics. Their various compositions mean different outcomes for any processes applied to them, including laser marking. The choice of laser, in terms of required wavelength, depends on the type of plastic involved.

PET, for example, requires a specific short wavelength of 9.3 μm, which you can get with CO2 laser markers. A laser with a different wavelength could overheat the plastic, causing micro-holes and burns. Laser marking on this semi-transparent plastic results in white characters that seem to float on the surface. From PET bottles to thin films, by using the correct laser source and parameters for making, laser marks on plastics always delivers results that are clear and sharp.

Laser versus ink-jet

The different laser sources and the extensive specialization of modern laser technology currently allow us to make laser marks on all types of plasticsLaser marking is better than other technologies for placing codes, logos, and designs on plastic componentsCompared to ink jet, laser marking does not have the problem of ink adhesion, dark substrate contrast, or finish complexity. This is because the laser removes or changes the surface of the plastic material, or modifies its color, creating a contrast.

tag02 Plastic

ink jet

tag01 Plastic

laser marking

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The processes of laser marking on plastic

While there are different processes that lasers can perform on plastic, some are more popular than others. We can meet needs based on manufacturer requirements and the type of product involved.

Carbonizzazione-Plastica Plastic
CARBONIZATION

Carbonization creates very dark marks on very bright surfaces. When an area receives continuous high energy, the macromolecules of the element around the base material are charred and turn black.

Viraggio-Plastiche Plastic
COLOR CHANGE

Color change, for example from dark to light or vice versa, using a laser ensures minimal damage to the component during marking.

DayNight_large1 Plastic
SELECTIVE ABLATION

With selective ablation, the laser removes a surface layer from the material.

Laser markers for plastic

The most popular lasers for marking plastic are the well-known UV laser, the FlyPeak green wave laser from LASIT, and the traditional green light laser with a fiber optic source. In many cases, we can also recommend using a MOPA laser (variable pulse). Because of the ability to control pulse timing, this laser performs exceptionally well, even for some difficult applications.

 

Laser technicians perform tests to determine which laser will deliver the desired results on specific plastics. Starting from the results of the first tests, they can identify the parameters that work best for the specific job. The initial parameters they use are normally the ones listed below:

In most cases, forcing a marking can be counterproductive and decrease the final contrast. That’s why it’s better to start with one repetition and gradually increase from there.

Below, we have identified the three most common plastic materials used in laser marking, describing their characteristics and the best parameters:

campionelava Plastic
Immagine-2021-04-22-141239 Plastic

WHITE ABS

ABS-BIANCO-1024x633 Plastic

This material, unless additives are used, can be marked fairly well with an infrared FiberFly laser, a FlyAIR Green Wave green light laser, and perfectly with a FlyUV laser. The FlyUV laser induces a photochemical reaction in the material, producing high, continuous, and permanent contrast, leaving the surface smooth to the touch.

  • Laser used

    FlyUV 8W FFL330

  • Speed

    900mm/sec

  • Frequency

    40kHz

  • Power

    80%

  • Defocus:

    10mm

  • Filling

    0.1mm

PA66 GF 30 Black

PA66-GF-Nero-1024x633 Plastic

The Infrared FiberFly laser provides good contrast, and the MOPA version is recommended when increases contrast is desired.

  • Laser used

    FiberFly 20W FFL160

  • Speed

    1000mm/sec

  • Frequency

    20kHz

  • Power

    25%

  • Defocus:

    NA

  • Filling

    0.08mm

BLACK POM C

POMCNERO Plastic

The Infrared FiberFly laser provides good contrast, and the MOPA version is recommended to increase contrast.

  • Laser used

    FiberFly 30W MOPA FFL160

  • Speed

    600mm/sec

  • Frequency

    10kHz

  • Power

    90%

  • Defocus:

    NA

  • Filling

    0.8mm

  • Pulse Duration

    8ns

The FlyPeak Green Light Laser

Controlling the heat input is a key factor in achieving quality laser marks on plastic.

 

The pulse of the FlyPeak laser always stays below 10 ns throughout the range (at 20 kHz = 3.5 ns). This means the surface stays cooler compared to traditional nanosecond lasers, including fiber lasers. The result is increased laser mark quality.

 

The FlyPeak laser marker uses a DPSS (diode pumped solid state) system, which combines high peak power with a much shorter pulse than other solid-state lasers on the market, while keeping the average power unchanged. There is no better performing laser currently on the market.

flypeaktracciabilita Plastic

The best features of this laser marker are:

Laser for integration

FlyPEAK

FLYPEAK is ideal for marking all types of plastic, providing high peak power and a shorter pulse compared to other lasers in the same class.

FlyUV

The best performing laser on plastic for aesthetic marks, especially valued in the medical and home appliances industries.

FlyMOPA

Its adjustable pulse duration ensures high contrast without burns. Ideal for color marking.