Laser marking processes on metals

Marking lasers perform high-contrast, high-speed processing on all types of metal, even if they have undergone post-production processing or undergone invasive work (see Sandblasting for cast components). The type of marking we are talking about is also called DPM (direct part marking) because it is done directly on the component without labels or plates.

The fiber laser represented a significant revolution in the world of laser marking more than ten years ago. More durable and higher performing than the Diode Laser, it has an expected life of 100,000 hours in full operation. This laser is the most widely used in industry and achieves optimal results in metal marking in 90% of cases.

Moreover, compared to other stamping and writing technologies, laser marking is the most prevalent in the industrial world. We see in the table below a comparison between the various technologies and how laser marking has the highest performance.

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Stamp Etching INKJET Laser marking
RESISTANCE OVER TIME

2

3

3

5

LOW PRODUCTION WASTE

1

3

3

5

MARKING ON IRREGULAR SURFACES

2

2

3

3

FLEXIBILITY IN CHANGING DATA

1

3

5

5

FLEXIBILITY IN MATERIAL CHANGE

3

3

3

2

INITIAL COST

5

3

2

2

OPERATING COSTS

2

1

2

5

Marking tests carried out in LASIT laboratories are recommended when you want to mark a particular metal component that has undergone treatments or on which special processing is required. In the laboratory we are able to verify the marking cycle time and the quality of the marked codes, in terms of readability. In addition, if requested, we can verify the depth of laser marking and engraving on the component.

Laser marking processes

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Oxidation - Very black marking (Annealing)

Oxidation is a common marking process effect that we see a lot. Let’s imagine, for example, a steel component (“light” metal) on which black writing appears. Oxidation is a process that does not physically affect the surface of the metal. A layer of oxide is created on it, which takes on a black color in contrast to the color underneath.

Real application case: Brake discs, Bearings, Steel medical instruments, Kitchen worktops.

White laser marking

In contrast to oxidation, to obtain a white marking the laser focuses on the material and removes a part of it. The surface of the metal thus becomes uneven and a reflective effect is achieved. Light reflecting off the dark component causes the marking to be visible.

Real application case: Kitchen Knives, Hoses, Joints, Faucets.

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Laser engraving

We have already explained the differences that exist between laser marking and laser engraving in this article, and then delved into the various stages of the marking process.

By engraving, we mean a deeper penetration on the metal with a steaming of the surface. The power of the laser, we would like to specify, does not determine the depth of the excavation as you might think. A more powerful fiber laser results in a higher speed.

LASIT uses Fiber Lasers with both fixed and variable pulse (MOPA), with powers ranging from 20 Watts up to 200W (in the MOPA version).

Superficial ablation

This laser marking process consists of removing the surface section of the metal. Removing the plating of the same makes the substrate visible and the contrast between the two colors represents the marking.

Real application case: Painted colored water bottles, Anodized components.

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Marking 2D Codes on Metals

In the industrial world, laser marking is mainly used for traceability. As a result, laser markers are intended for a production line where a DMC or serial number takes center stage.

For both integration lasers and industrial automations, LASIT has gained great experience in the marking and verification of 2D codes on all types of metal, in particular for Automotive, Hydraulics (nameplates), Household Appliances and Taps, Smelters, Medical components.

Industry 4.0

Laser marking of metal components, as we mentioned, is often located on a production line where the marking machine communicates with the factory ERP system. The transmission of automated sequences is the basis of the Industry 4.0 and smart factory concept

This type of factory represents the future of our industry and a true technological revolution that will benefit everyone. Let’s delve into this topic and its benefits in this article.

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Ensuring Laser Marking Quality after Sandblasting

Our research to produce A-Grade results even after the sandblasting process: real parameters and tests on metal samples

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Pre-Blast Laser Engraving: Traceability of Cast Components

Sandblasting and shot peening are very frequent processes on cast components, necessary in the machining cycle but they also very invasive.

 

One of the risks of these processes relates to traceability, i.e., the compromise (and therefore readability) of the DataMatrix code. At LASIT, we have developed a strategy to prevent the DataMatrix code from becoming unreadable after the various processes.

 

This has become possible thanks to deep engravings with specific parameters and dedicated geometries specifically designed for cast components. The most commonly used lasers are those with high powers, i.e. 100W, 200W or 300W, which also guarantee an extreme speed of the process.

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