Laser engraving is the general laser marking technology in product traceability and identification. It includes using a laser marking machine to make permanent markings on various materials. Laser engraving is a very accurate and innovative technology. So, it is the go-to option for marking components and products in different companies. We can say this technology is essential for automotive and aeronautics industrial setups.
In this post, I will explain everything you need about this technology. It will help you to start your dream project.
The process includes using a laser marking machine. The machine is also famous as a laser engraving machine. We generally use this machine to vaporize specific areas on almost any material. So, it forms permanent patterns with advanced contrast to the unmarked regions on the product.
The process is suitable for making logos, barcodes, QR codes, and serial numbers on parts. Laser etching, annealing, ablation, and other laser marking technologies make it more efficient. Alongside these technologies, the process forms a set of reliable processes in;
- And product decoration.
History overview of laser engraving:
We cannot ignore manual engraving while explaining the history of laser engraving. Manual engraving is a process that contains using an engraving tool (sharp object). The purpose of this tool is to inscribe a marking on the component. In past times, stones were engraving tools/sharp objects about 500,000 years ago. So, we can say the people living in those times were also familiar with engraving technology.
Manual engraving developed over the years due to technological progression. We can observe the link laser engraving process with Albert Einstein. He gave an idea about this technology, LASER 1916 and its optimization occurred in the 1950s.
Theodore Maiman contributed and created the first optical laser. In 1965, Western Electrics made the first laser machine. So, lasers became an essential part of drilling in the CNC industry. Yet, its actual use in engraving started after the advent of CO2 lasers in 1967. More technological advancements make it more valuable, and this technology is spreading very fast.
Working procedure of laser engraving:
Laser engraving comprises focusing a laser beam on a product from a distance at an appropriate power level. It vaporizes the material leaving an enduring marking on the components. Never ignore the importance of power change, as too little will be ineffective. Moreover, if the power exceeds the basic level, it will burn the material. The laser engraving procedure is very straightforward. Here are some steps that you need to adapt to laser engrave a component;
Ideation is the formation of concepts and ideas on how the markings will look. It also comprises suitable materials for the job for better results. It needs high creativity. So, it is the most significant step of the laser engraving procedure. The reason is that this process determines the quality of the markings and their effectiveness.
Image design for marking:
Image designing is also one of the essential components of laser engraving. Design the image you need to mark on a particular computer program. Here are some famous computer programs that you may use for designing purposes;
- Adobe Illustrators
- And Onshape
I also recommend you check the software’s compatibility with the engraving machine. Because if you will have a final copy of the design and find incompatibility, your hard work will have no value.
Selection of the material for laser engraving:
Select a material that is compatible with the laser engraver machine. And also, check that the material complements your created design. In general, laser engraving machines work with materials such as;
- And metals.
Yet, each category is appropriate for a secluded list of materials. Some laser markers are suitable for plastics since they don’t generate high heat. When it comes to CO2 laser markers, they are suitable for organic materials. Companies offering CNC engraving machining services never set aside all steps about the process.
The settings and types of engraving machines distinguish its procedure from each other. Set the laser strength, speed, cut depth, number of badges, and line thickness. Moreover, there is a need to set similar tests for materials to see their properties. As per your need, you may store the best settings.
Laser engrave the component:
Place the material you need to perform the process in the machine and mark it. You can take away the material from the engraving machine and clean it on marking.
Materials generally used for laser engraving process:
The laser engraving procedure is compatible with different materials. Here are some material examples that you may consider for your project;
Plastics such as POM and acrylic are famous laser engraved materials. Yet, the power of the laser must be regulated and tailored enough to the materials absorption range and other available additives. Plastic materials are more compatible with UV and CO2 laser markers.
Metals are the supreme general materials people laser engraved hence the term “the heart of many industries.” Stainless steel, gold, iron, silver, and aluminum are examples of metals compatible with the procedure. If we look at suitable marking machines, fiber engraving machines are best.
Besides, woods are also compatible with the laser engraving process. Many people consider woods a fire hazard due to the high heat. Yet, there is an option in that you can adjust the power of the laser marker. Due to this, you can make it possible to engrave wood without the fire hazard. Some most popular wood materials are plywood, MDF, and cardboard.
The laser engraving process is also suitable for coated metals. In this modern era of advanced technology, ignore the myth that coated metals are unsuitable for laser engraving. But remember that the laser engraving process may affect the coating.