Laser Marking and Engraving Metals

Aluminum, steel, stainless steel and many more

laser engraving control panel

Lasers for Marking and Engraving Metals

Laser marking and laser engraving are extremely accurate and clean ways to process metal. Etching and engraving with the laser are contact-free processes, so the surface is not damaged. For bare, uncoated metals, a fiber laser is used for best results. Typical applications for laser marking of metals include product labeling and coding in the electronics industry (mobile phones, tables, etc), tool construction, and medical technology. Trotec offers a wide range of fiber laser systems to accommodate any number of applications.

Many types of metal can be laser marked, including:

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

Metals can be engraved or marked, depending on your application.




Function and advantages of laser technology

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).

Laser marking is a great solution for marking metal products with traceability features and codes. Identification marking is in high demand as businesses are looking for permanent, cost effective ways of marking their equipment to prevent loss and theft.  Laser markings are durable, last a lifetime, and resistant against wear and tear, UV, heat, cold, chemicals, and alcohol, making them an ideal mark. High resolution markings such as serial numbers, codes and logos can be applied with a laser on many products, and with the precise laser beam means even the smallest markings will be clearly legible with minimal effort.

These applications can be found in the electronics and electrical industry, mechanical engineering and tool manufacturing, in sheet metal processing, medical technology, promotional materials, jewelry, and in the automotive industry.

  • Product labeling 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
  • Customization of promotional and gift items made of metals,
  • Dataplates
anti friction bearing laser marking

Why you should use a laser for marking metals

Laser marking metal is an extremely precise and clean way to process metals with non-contact, permanent markings. 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

Cost-efficient production

Since there are no setup costs as for example with pad printing, the costs per mark are always the same –whether you need 1 piece or 1000. The customer can work with different shapes or sizes at the same time. Laser engraving also does not incur any costs for consumables such as ink, chemicals, pastes or sprays (which also eliminates disposal costs). Energy consumption is low and setup time is reduced to a minimum.

  • 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.

Processing data

The laser is the perfect tool to mark with either just-in-time online data or with data imported from any external system (such as office programs, files, SAP, databases, etc.). High speed marking with variable data is possible e.g. serial numbers, codes.

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

Permanent, durable markings

Unlike other technologies, laser marking is permanent and abrasion, heat and acid resistant, which is a major requirement for data plates and industrial tags. Depending on the laser parameters, it is possible to mark certain metals (e.g. stainless steels) without leaving tangible depressions on the surface (annealing).

Advantages of a Trotec laser

  • Product portfolio with matching fiber laser systems for all requirements
  • Flatbed systems with processing areas of up to 726 x 432 mm
  • Galvo workstations with processing areas of up to 620 x 315 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.

"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."
- Chad Chapman, - Lazr-Tac -
"We purchased our Trotec laser in 2007 and have used it extensively, almost everday. When we needed an upgrade, we went with a Trotec again due to the quality of machine and customer service."
- Steve Finneseth - High Tech Laser & Polishing -
"Our Trotec laser has opened up new avenues for the appearance of products. We are getting great response from our customers."
- Karen Blackshaw - Axis Percussion -

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