Typically, a CO2 laser engraver is limited to processing coated or painted metals and is unable to laser mark or engrave on blank metals. However, with the additional application of laser marking solutions (also known as “coating sprays”), blank metals can be processed with your CO2 laser machine. Once the spray has thoroughly dried and the workpiece is properly coated, the laser beam will burn the spray into the material allowing a laser mark to be produced. After the laser machine has marked the material, the workpiece can be gently washed to remove any excess residue. (We used stainless steel in our example.)
For cleaning sensitive surfaces or high-priced workpieces (such as a watch), laser marking spray is a necessity. Prior to first time use, it is essential to become familiarized with marking solutions as they are classified as hazardous materials and should be handled as such. It is of the utmost importance to adhere to the corresponding safety regulations so all individuals operating the laser machine remain safe and are not exposed to potentially toxic chemicals.
Without the use of coating sprays, CO2 laser machines are not compatible for processing blank metals due to fact that they offer wavelengths of only 10.6 µm. Therefore, a higher laser power as well as slower processing speed is required for the metal to react to the laser. This can result in an excess of energy and heat being applied to the workpiece, which can lead to material deformity as well as fine details and small fonts to be illegible.
In terms of productivity, efficiency and quality, using a fiber laser machine is the ideal solution for marking metals. Compared to using a CO2 laser machine with coating sprays, a fiber laser requires no additional material prep when processing metals and the finished product is uniform and precise with even the finest intricacies clearly legible.
Additionally, you can use other processing techniques to produce unique finishes into your materials by adjusting the laser parameters. For example, anneal marking to create rich white or black colors or deep engraving into metals to produce counterfeit-proof and long-lasting prints.
Fiber lasers are offered in a few styles, including as a laser plotter in the Speedy series as well as in the form of galvo lasers in the SpeedMarker series.
Determining whether a laser plotter or a galvo laser will better suit your business needs will ultimately depend on what the laser machine is being used for, as well as your specific application requirements.
Comparing the processing times between the various machine styles and marking methods
Comparing the processing times for laser marking the same data plate between a Speedy CO2 laser machine and a Speedy fiber laser machine will result in roughly a 1 minute difference, with the Speedy fiber being slightly faster. This can be attributed to the fact that a fiber laser source requires less material preparation than a CO2 laser source when marking metals, such as the application of coating sprays as well as post-processing clean up. This means that more time can be spent on processing additional jobs, which will increase productivity. Comparatively, a SpeedMarker galvo style laser marking machine can process materials in even less time than a Speedy series laser plotter with either laser source options.
All of these factors should be evaluated and carefully considered when determining whether a galvo laser machine or laser plotter is the right fit for you. More info.
If you would like additional information on the comparison between CO2 and fiber laser technologies or metal marking in general, visit our laser type overview page or laser marking and laser engraving metal.
|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|