The Benefits of Implementing Fiber-Based Laser Marking Systems
Has engraving or adding markings to your products become an essential part of your business?
Many businesses today are laser marking their products for easy identifiability or traceability; or adding their logos and other company information. In some instances, such as providing products for government agencies, bar codes, and/or UID part marking is mandatory.
What is Laser Marking?
Laser marking systems harness very concentrated energy from light and focus that energy on a tiny area on the surface of an object. The material of that object is exposed to short bursts of this light energy in the form of a focused beam. This light beam is moved quickly over the material and images are created.
Laser marking is an effective method to provide identification and inventory control.
In the past, simple alpha-numeric markings were most often required for identification. However, more complex images are now necessary, including precise machine-readable codes.
Along with the changing benefits and requirements associated with product marking, the techniques, equipment, and technology available have changed. Now is a good time to examine and reevaluate your laser marking equipment.
Older Laser Marking Technology:
- Flashlamp laser markers (also called a flashtube) were designed to produce tremendously intense white light for very short bursts. They feature a length of glass tubing filled with gas. Depending on the type of gas, the flash of light could ignite any flammable material in the immediate vicinity. Occasionally the glass tubing can explode if high levels of energy reduce the structural strength of the tubing. Flashlamp laser systems are versatile and typically easily installed.
- Diode-based solid state laser markers utilize a cluster of light-emitting diodes instead of gas-filled glass tubes. This system is also versatile and offers variable beam expander and spatial aperture features. A diode-based laser system is water cooled and has a built-in chiller; flashlamp systems require an external chiller. These units must be kept in a temperature-controlled environment at a constant 70-degrees to avoid condensation damage to the diodes.
Fiber-Based Laser Markers:
- Fiber based laser markers feature the most current laser marking technology; referred to as fiber pumping. They feature bundled optic fibers with a material added to the fibers to increase their conductivity. This is pumped with light-emitting diodes and the laser light is delivered through the fibers to the optical head and beam expander.
- The beam quality of a fiber-based laser marker is higher than either a flashlamp or a diode-based laser.
- This system is air-cooled, so there is no chiller required.
- It is versatile and durable; fiber diodes have an expected lifetime of more than 30,000 hours.
- A fiber based laser marking system requires minimal maintenance, no alignment is needed for the laser and there are no consumables.
- This system can be mounted in any orientation required by the business’ need and has a very small footprint.
Why You Should Consider Fiber Laser Marking:
- Fiber laser marking is both a reliable marking system, and a system that is environmentally friendly.
- Fiber laser marking is an excellent choice for use on a wide variety of materials and provides high-quality permanent marks.
- Fiber laser marking can be used on metals, stainless steel, titanium, ceramics, and plastics.
- Fiber laser marking can be very cost-effective.
- Fiber laser marking is extremely durable and long lasting.
- Fiber laser marking is resistant to high temperatures; such as the sterilization process for medical and surgical devices.
- Fiber laser marking is a safe process, with no inks, acids, or solvents used, and nothing to explode or overheat.
- Fiber laser marking systems are software driven, enabling thousands of characters to be marked in a very short time.
- Fiber laser marking generates sharp, detailed, and high-quality images equal to the resolution of a printer set at 600 dpi. The quality is the same for logos, images, text, or codes that must be machine-readable.
- Fiber laser marking creates heat that is precisely targeted and does not compromise the structural integrity of the material within or around the mark.
What Are Some Uses for Fiber Laser Marking?
Laser Marking Medical Devices:
- The manufacturing of medical devices is specialized and very rigorous; lives depend on them. A fiber laser marking will last a long time and will not fade through repeated sterilization at high temperatures
- If the device is bio-compatible, it will remain so with fiber laser marking. There are no acids, inks, or solvents added to create the identifying mark and possibly harm a patient. Additionally, there will be no grooves or burrs to degrade the surface of the device
- With a fiber laser marking system, a large amount of information can be placed in a very small area. This makes devices easily and accurately traced. This is important to the well-being of patients if a certain batch of devices should be recalled
- Medical devices of all sizes and shapes can be laser marked; implants are notoriously oddly shaped
Laser Marking Firearms:
- Firearms can be customized for personal enjoyment through the use of fiber laser marking systems
- They can also be marked with serial numbers for easy identification if stolen. The Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco (ATF) requires all firearms and firearm parts sold within the US be marked with a serial number. Mechanical engraving machines produced a shallow marking that was easily removed. A fiber laser marking system will produce a high-quality mark that is difficult to remove and remains easy to read through normal wear.
Laser Marking and Engraving of Jewelry:
- Precision is very important in the jewelry business, and a fiber laser marking system provides such precision.
- Large or small engravings are possible; on flat or round surfaces.
- Many fiber laser marking units for jewelry engraving are very small, some even portable. This provides an ease of use for jewelers when meeting the needs of their clients.
- A personalized engraving may make the recovery of stolen jewelry easier; and can make a family heirloom more valuable for future generations.
- Any company that manufactures parts can use a fiber laser marking system to add serial numbers, bar codes, date codes, part numbers, data matrix code, or other identifying marks to any part. This will help control inventory and may eliminate confusion between similar parts with differing functions.
- Selling to any government agency will require a stringent marking system be in place and consistently implemented.
The possibilities for utilizing fiber laser marking are almost endless.
Any graphic, image or text that can be created on a computer can be engraved using a laser. Metal and many non-metal materials can be engraved; all sizes, shapes, and contours. Specialized software is an important consideration in getting the most from your fiber laser equipment. Laser engraving is an exciting combination of science and art and you will want state-of-the-art software that allows the use of bitmap images, vector graphics and drawings, among other features.
For more information concerning the possibilities available with fiber laser marking, please contact us today. We invite you to download our free product catalog and to view our informative videos. The world of fiber laser marking is exiting and new innovations are being introduced every day. We would like to share that world with you.