One type of solid-state laser comparable to the Nd:YAG is the Nd:YVO4, or vanadate laser. This is typically a diode-pumped laser with a YVO host crystal. The laser beam is formed by the neodymium-doped yttrium-vanadate crystal. The vanadate and YAG lasers have the same 1064nm wavelength as the neodymium doping excites the laser.
The absorption band of the vanadate pump is much broader than the YAG laser, making it easier to pump. This creates fewer fluctuations in the power output due to the pump diode wavelength drift. The optical performance of the vanadate laser is greater than the YAG meaning that the output power is higher and waste heat extraction is not as crucial.
The materials that can be marked with a vanadate laser are virtually identical to that of the YAG laser. This includes plastics, partly organic materials, and essentially all metals. Though they are similar, the vanadate laser allows for more pulses per second. Because the additional pulses overlap, marking on plastic is considerably faster.
A laser will interact with an object only if it has adequately high absorption. A power that is reflected or transmitted will do nothing for material processing.
Since the laser beams in near-infrared, in general, any substance that the human eye sees as clear or transparent is not able to be processed with the laser. This includes Plexiglas, polystyrene, non-colored glass, and similar. These materials can be processed with a CO2 laser.
General electricity costs are the only costs of operation with a YVO4 laser system. Due to this, they are becoming more popular, cost-effective methods of marking, substituting ink and labels. However, the pump diodes of the vanadate and YAG lasers should be replaced after roughly 15,000-20,000 hours of operation. This is a downside compared to fiber lasers that do not have routine periods of maintenance.
Although the initial investment is considerably greater, laser systems have remarkably lower maintenance, low running costs, and higher print quality compared to inkjet printers.
Marking on pre-printed cardboard results in an incredibly quick, high-contrast mark on the substrate.
Laser markings are typically very durable. This is due to the marking taking place in the actual material - not just on the surface. Laser markings will not wear and they are entirely smudge-proof, opposed to printed items. The markings are not affected by extreme temperatures, solvents, weak alkalies, oil, or acids. This why laser marking has become more popular in recent years, especially in terms of the safety-relevant marking of certain applications such as deterring counterfeiting.
There is also an increasing amount of applications in the automotive industry. This entails dashboard switches, data plates, seat belt buckles, and expensive engine parts like camshafts.