Laser Marking Services
Bar/QR Codes - Custom Logos/Designs - Nondestructive Marking
Laser marking technologies add clean, crisp marks onto your products made of virtually any material including metals--such as stainless steel, gold, aluminum, silver or platinum--as well as glass, organic polymers, plastics, ceramics, and even diamonds or gemstones. Laser marks are indelible, add no contamination from inks or solvents, and are difficult for counterfeiters to duplicate. Our capability to repeatably mark locations to within ±0.001 mm allows even small products--such as medical devices or micro-electronic components--to be directly marked rather than depending upon paper labels.
What is Laser Marking?
Laser marking alters the properties or the appearance of the surface of the target material through laser beam interaction. This technology can change the color of the base material without causing abrasions or damage to the area surrounding the target material. Laser marking leaves exact, accurate and high-contrast marks that are easily readable by the human eye.
What is Laser Engraving/Etching?
Laser etching and laser engraving are essentially the same process, and the two terms can be used interchangeably. Unlike laser marking, laser engraving/etching removes material by vaporizing it with the laser beam. In this process, the laser is calibrated to remove a certain depth and pattern from the material of the part, similar to mechanical engraving. Laser marking is more common than laser etching/engraving due to the wide range of compatible materials and its non-destructive nature.
Common Types of Laser Markings
Annealing: an oxidation process that applies heat to the material surface. Annealing usually results in a smooth, solid black mark, but the color may vary based on the laser parameters used. Typical materials used with annealing are stainless steel, titanium and carbon steel.
Carbon Migration: used when marking metal or metal alloys. In this laser marking process, the metal binds chemically with its carbon molecules from the heat of the laser beam. The bonding process brings the carbon properties to the surface of the material. The resultant is a dark laser marking. Typical materials used with carbon migration are stainless steel, titanium and carbon steel.
Charring: occurs when the base material is heated with the laser beam. The heat of the laser beam removes hydrogen and oxygen from the material and the result is a material which has a much higher content of carbon than the original material. The charring process is typically used on plastics.
Discoloration: using molecular or chemical alteration of the base material to change the color of the material being marked. The discoloration process is typically used on plastic and rubber materials.
Foaming: laser beam creates gas bubbles in the base material. These gas bubbles reflect light differently and usually appear lighter than the unmarked material. The foaming process is typically used on plastics.
Melting: the material is heated up and melted by the laser beam then quickly re-solidifies, retaining most of its original characteristics. The resultant laser marked material often has a smoother surface finish than its pre-marked state. The melting process is typically used on plastics.
Coating Removal: removes an outer layer of material that has a different color or property than the base material below it, thereby achieving marking contrast between the two materials. One common example of coating removal is laser marking anodized aluminum, where the colored/anodized surface layer is removed.