Laser marking and engraving metal

Aluminium, steel, stainless steel and many more

Laser engraved elevator signage made from steel

Suitable types of metal for laser marking

When marking and engraving on metal laser technology has been used to achieve great results for many years. Not only soft metals, such as aluminium but steel or very hard alloys can be marked accurately and quickly using a laser engraving machine to produce highly legible markings. Consistently high quality is guaranteed by the definition of parameters. The ability to achieve corrosion resistant markings on certain metals by annealing, for example on steel alloys, which do not damage the surface structure of the metal offers many advantages, particularly in business sectors, such as medical technology or the automobile industry.

Suitable types of metal for laser marking

  • Stainless steel
  • hardened metals
  • alloy steels
  • high-speed steels
  • aluminium
  • anodised aluminium
  • titanium, titanium alloys
  • hard metals
  • brass
  • copper
  • precious metals
  • coated metals

Depending on your requirements metals can be engraved or marked.


Examples



Application examples made of metal

Typical application areas for laser marking metals include product markings for traceability and codes. These can be found in the electronics and electrical industry, mechanical engineering and tool manufacturing, in sheet metal processing, medical technology, promotional materials and jewellery as well as in the automotive industry.

  • Product labelling as an anti-counterfeiting measure,
  • Functional labels such as size, diameter, etc.
  • Production information, such as date of manufacture, batch number, serial number, etc.
  • Traceability codes
  • Data Matrix codes for quality assurance
  • Customisation of promotional and gift items made of metals
  • Dataplates
Metal coil - laser marked

Why should I buy a laser for laser marking metal?

Non-contact, permanent metal marking: Laser marking metal is an extremely precise and clean way to process metals. Labels, such as serial numbers, Data Matrix codes and logos can be applied to products and components with a high-resolution finish. Metal marking or engraving is created by the laser using a non-contact process that requires no pre or post processing. Markings produced by annealing serve as durable, acid, chemical and corrosion resistant labels that do not damage the metal surface.

Function and advantages of laser technology

Marking takes seconds and allows greater output

  • High speed marking with variable data is possible e.g. serial numbers, codes
  • A wide range of markings are possible without retooling or 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
  • Integration of contents from ERP files is possible

Cost-efficient production

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

Advantages of a Trotec laser

  • The SpeedMarker with a maintenance-free fiber laser can be integrated as a laser workstation or into a production line
  • The robust mechanics of Trotec laser systems have been designed for many years of intensive use with minimal servicing.

Permanent engravings

  • Unlike other technologies, laser marking is permanent and abrasion, heat and acid resistant
  • 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 1250 mm
  • Galvo workstations with processing areas of up to 1120 x 653 mm
  • OEM galvo fiber lasers for integration into production lines
  • Custom-built systems according to customer requirements

Perfect marking results - fine tools

  • Precise and small shapes can be marked with extreme accuracy
  • Marking processes can be combined to clean the material after processing or to provide a higher contrast (e.g. Data Matrix codes)

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

Incredible design opportunities

  • Virtually any design can be created with the laser.
  • It is even possible to create 1-point fonts and tiny shapes that are still clearly legible.
  • Complete freedom in the design of markings, logos, designs, bar codes or serial numbers
  • Even photos can be produced in the shortest possible time.

Advantages of a Trotec laser

  • DirectMark or JobControl software for laser marking or engraving directly from the graphics program make everything as easy as printing

Non-contact and reliable material processing capabilities

  • There is no need to firmly clamp down or fixate materials
  • Time savings and consistently good results

Advantages of a Trotec laser

  • Broad product portfolio with the right laser system for every requirement
  • Highly accurate laser marking even on your "first attempt" thanks to camera-assisted positioning.

Product recommendations

SpeedMarker series: Industrial high-speed laser marking of aluminum, steel, various (coated) metals, precious metals and much more

ProMarker series: Perfect for personalizing promotional items. Creative and software-independent operation. Implementation of marking using your printer driver. High-speed laser marking of many metals and coated metals that is as easy as printing.

"The huge bed size of the Speedy 400 we have has allowed us to mark up to 90 components at a time, which has greatly reduced our overheads but also increased the quality of the finished product. We’ve also been able to expand the business, because now we can engrave a company’s logo on their new equipment, which we’ve been able to capitalise on"
- Stuart Rogers, - General Manager of Doughty Engineering Ltd -
"We decided to go with Trotec because the offered the most reasonable solution at the most affordable price. In fact, the machine has been more than reasonable, it has been fantastic! Our laser has allowed us to expand because our production runs are now much faster. On top of this it’s also made things a lot easier because pretty much anyone on staff can be taught how to use the machine."
- - -
"The whole process was quick and painless, from demonstration through delivery, training and setup. Buying a Trotec laser machine has had a huge impact on our business, since the quality of our final product has improved greatly, and we’re saving so much time."
- Simon Barnes - Managing Director, Rohmann UK -

Trotec product recommendation

Methods of laser marking metal

Polishing

Polishing leaves a white mark on stainless steel and other metals. It can be seen as a "lighter" way of engraving. The energy of the laser is reduced, which means that less material will be vaporized. The result is less ablation on a material like steel and a brighter marking. Regarding the parameters this means less power and higher speeds that result in less energy per distance and higher frequencies that result in less pulse energy. Polishing is not only possible on steel but on all metals.

Engraving

Engraving leaves a tangible mark on stainless steel and other metals. It leads to an ablation of the material on steel parts. The material vaporizes and the color changes. Due to the very high energy of the laser, materials like steel, titanium and other metals can be vaporized directly.
To achieve ablation, high powers and relatively slow and medium marking speeds are required. The lower the frequency, the higher the possible pulse energy. That means the lowest possible frequency should be chosen for engraving. The brown color that is left by the burned metal can be cleaned (see Polishing).

Annealing

Annealing leaves no tangible mark on stainless steel and other metals. During the annealing process no material is taken away, which means there is no ablation. Instead a color change occurs through heating up the metal. Stainless steel, for example, changes color when it reaches temperatures between 200 and 300°C. Different colors can be achieved with different temperatures. Annealing is also possible on any alloys which contain iron.
To anneal metal, it is important to only heat it instead of vaporizing it. This can be achieved by reducing the energy density of the laser impact on the steel. The best way to do so is to go out of focus to increase the laser spot size, as the same energy on a much bigger surface will reduce the energy density. Heating up metal takes time, therefore, slow marking speeds should be used.