Plain metal can only be marked with a CO2 laser engraving machine if you use a marking solution as well. It needs to be applied to the workpiece before laser processing begins. It needs to dry completely as well, as it is then burned into the material during the laser process. Once it has finished, the excess marking paste must be washed off. (In our example, we used stainless steel)
A laser marking spray is also essential when cleaning sensitive or expensive materials, such as watch markings. It is worth noting that marking solutions are classified as hazardous materials, so always make sure you are being safe! Protect yourself and your employees!
Without a marking solution, the CO2 laser source, with a wavelength of 10.6µm, is not really suitable for metal marking. A much higher laser power is required for metal to react. The process must be very slow as well, resulting in the material being subjected to a very high level of energy, which can potentially deform or ruin your product if not done correctly.
The ideal tool for metal marking regarding productivity and quality is a fiber laser. Unlike CO2 marking with a paste, no prep-work is required when using this system. The marking result is always uniform and precise - even fine details are crisp and sharp!
You can use certain parameter settings to achieve interesting effects. For example, the anneal marking can produce black and white colours. The metal engraving gives depth to the metal which is long-lasting and counterfeit proof.
Fiber lasers are available as 'laser plotters' in the Speedy series, along with 'galvo lasers' in the SpeedMarker series.
Deciding between a plotter and a galvo will depend on what you will be using the machine for.
Processing times of different marking methods:
Comparing the times required to mark a data plate with the CO2 laser source from a Speedy Flexx machine and a Speedy fiber/flexx laser is interesting. The Speedy fiber/flexx machine is only 1 minute faster, but you can see that this machine doesn't need any pre- or post-processing. The machine operator can use this extra time to work on more orders and ultimately increase productivity.
A SpeedMarker galvo machine is always significantly faster.
You should ensure that you do your research and carefully consider all the facts when choosing what kind of machine will suit your needs. More info.
|Process Steps||Speedy CO2 + laser marking paste||Speedy Fiber / Flexx||SpeedMarker|
|Preparation and applying laser marking paste||4 min||-||-|
|Laser processing||5 min||21 min||2 min|
|Cleaning, Drying||3 min||-||-|
|22 min||21 min||2 min|