Laser Engraving Plastic &
Laser Marking Plastic

for polyamide, polyethylene, ABS and many other plastics

electronical components laser marking

Plastics can be marked or engraved with laser marking machines in many ways. With a Fiber laser, you can mark many different commercially used plastics, such as polycarbonate, ABS and polyamide with a permanent, quick, high-quality finish. Thanks to the low set-up times and flexibility that a marking laser offers, you can mark small batch sizes easily and economically.

Suitable Plastic Types

for laser engraving

  • Polyamide (PA)
  • Polycarbonate (PC)
  • Polyethylene (PE)
  • Polypropylene (PP)
  • Polyoxymethylene (POM)
  • Polyarylsulfone (PSU, PPSU)
  • Poly ether ketone (PEEK)
  • Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene copolymer (ABS)
  • Polyimide PI
  • Polystyrene PS
  • Polymethylmethacrylate PMMA
  • Polyester (PES)
  • Polystyrol
  • Polyethylene terephthalate PET
  • Silicone
  • Vinyl

Impressions



Plastic Application Examples

Applications

It is possible to permanently engrave almost any type of plastic, although the various raw materials, colour pigments and additives (e.g. fillers, flame retardants) react very differently.

For laser marking plastics, the Fiber laser offers you a range of different methods, such as dyeing, carbonation or foaming. Since various plastics react very differently, you should always test a material sample.

Here are some application examples:

  • Housings made of plastic
  • Electric plugs
  • Electronic components
  • Printed circuit boards (PCB)
  • Automotive parts
  • Keyboards
  • Tools and handles of tools
  • Buttons and switches with day & night design
  • Identification tags for animals
  • Packaging
  • Films
  • Sensors
marking key chain

"Why should I buy a laser for marking plastics?"

  • Non-contact laser marking is fast, as well as abrasion, heat and acid resistant.
  • Many different plastics can be marked or engraved with a laser.
  • All kinds of content can be used, including logos, codes, serial numbers and fully dynamic content from ERP systems.
  • The smallest components and details can be marked quickly and easily, even in difficult to access areas.

Function & Advantages of Laser Technology

Cost-Efficient Production

  • Laser engraving plastic does not increase the costs for consumables, such as inks, chemicals, pastes and sprays.
  • The need for handling and disposing expensive materials is eliminated.
  • No pre- or post-treatments are required
  • Tool wear is eliminated

Advantages of a Trotec laser

  • The SpeedMarker, with its maintenance-free fiber laser, can be used as a laser workstation, or integrated into a production line
  • The robust mechanics of Trotec laser systems have been designed with the intention of being used for many years, intensively and with minimal servicing

Markings take seconds, allowing greater output:

  • High-speed markings are possible with variable data (e.g. serial numbers, codes)
  • A wide range of markings are possible without retooling/tool changes

Advantages of a Trotec laser

  • Intelligent and intuitive marking software for ease of use
  • Fast and highly accurate positioning of components by means of a camera system: ‘SpeedMark Vision Smart Adjust’
  • It is possible to integrate contents from ERP files 

Permanent Engravings

  • Unlike other technologies, laser marking is permanent as well as abrasion, heat and acid resistant
  • This is especially important for traceability and quality assurance

Advantages of a Trotec laser

  • Product portfolio with matching Fiber laser systems for all requirements
  • Flatbed systems with processing areas of up to 1500 x 1250mm
  • Galvo workstations with processing areas of up to 1120 x 653mm
  • OEM galvo Fiber lasers for integration into production lines
  • Custom-built systems according to customer requirements

Incredible Design Opportunities

  • Virtually any design can be created with the laser – the sky is your only limit!
  • It is even possible to create 1-pt fonts and small shapes that are still clearly legible.
  • Complete freedom in markings – logos, designs, bar codes or serial numbers
  • Crisp, high-resolution photos can be produced in the shortest possible time

Advantages of a Trotec laser

  • DirectMark or JobControl software for laser engravings that are produced directly from the graphics program make it as easy and simple as printing

Non-Contact & Reliable Material Processing:

  • There is no need to firmly clamp down or fixate materials
  • Consistently reliable results and a lot of time saved

Advantages of a Trotec laser

  • Broad product portfolio with the right laser system for any requirement
  • Highly accurate laser cut plastic even on your ‘first attempt’, thanks to camera-assisted positioning

Perfect Marking Results - Fine Tools

  • Very small shapes can be marked with high precision

Advantages of a Trotec laser

  • Ideal optics and optimal beam performance, thanks to high-quality components
  • Camera-based component positioning for high precision and ease of use
"If you want the best watch in the world, get a Rolex - if you want the best laser, get a Trotec! We’ve tested many different laser cutters for our wood models and found the Trotec machines to be the most reliable and precise."
- Jon Cantin - founder of CNCKing.com -
"Trotec Laser Australia supplied a CO2 galvo laser for integration into an automatic plastic trimming machine we built for a multi-national end user. Based on their professionalism and support we would be more than happy to recommend them or partner with them on laser projects in the future."
- Walter Meyler - Automation Innovation -

Trotec product recommendation

Clear Contrast & Machine Readability with MOPA Laser

More options for marking plastics

There are a lot of plastic types out there that can be marked with a conventional fiber laser. Most of the time, the marking result is exceptional. However, some plastics cannot achieve a reasonable homogeneity. It is these plastics that can easily be marked with a MOPA laser, resulting in high contrast and quality finishing. The adjustable pulse durations, which can allow either short or long pulses, also help significantly.

Dark plastic (PA 66 GF, PA 6 GF and PP GF) doesn't heat very much due to the short pulses and the associated low pulse energy. This means that the plastic won't foam as much, and the marking will be more consistent. Other kinds of plastic require a greater amount of energy to heat up the material sufficiently. In these cases, the long pulses can help to optimise the foaming. Either way, marking with the MOPA laser creates a clearer contrast and better machine readability.

Plastic Laser Marking Methods:

Foaming

Foaming leaves a tangible mark on the material. Technically, it is laser-induced boiling, which melts the surface. Due to the rapid cooling, bubbles are encapsulated in the material. These bubbles leave a positive mark, which is tangible. The laser works on a low power level and longer pulses.

Foaming works on all polymers, but also on some metals. Depending on the material, the mark can be light or dark.

Carbonising

Carbonising enables strong contrasts on bright surfaces. During the carbonising process, the laser heats up the surface of the material (minimum 100°C). Here, oxygen, hydrogen or a combination of both gases is emitted. What's left is a darkened area with a higher carbon concentration.

The laser works with lower energy, which leads to slightly longer marking times compared to other processes. Carbonising can be used for polymers or bio-polymers such as wood or leather. Since carbonising always leads to dark marks, the contrast on dark materials will be rather minimal.

Colour Change

Colour changing the material guarantees the highest legibility. Laser marking with colour change is basically an electrical process, which reorders the macromolecules (changing their direction). No material is removed, but some foaming is possible.

The laser works with a maximum pulse rate, but low energy per pulse. Otherwise material would be removed or foaming would be more likely to occur. Colour change works on all polymers, and the change of colour can be bright or dark. However, most colour changes are dark.

Removing

Removing is used with multilayer plastics (laminates). During the removal process, the laser beam removes the top layers, which had been applied to the base material. This creates colour contrasts due to colour inconsistencies in the layers.