Laser etching is a process that falls into the laser marking category for creating permanent markings. Laser etching is one of the most efficient processes for manufacturing applications. It creates permanent markings with high contrasts and achieves a high marking speed due to its lower energy consumption. In addition, laser etching is particularly popular for personalization on glass. There are many possible uses and applications, which we will show below.
Both methods are types of laser marking. In laser engraving, the surface of the material is melted and vaporized by the laser beam, i.e. the material is removed. The resulting noticeable depression on the surface is the engraving.
In contrast to engraving, laser etching creates a raised marking. This raised marking is typical for plastics. With metal and glass, the surface structure is changed in such a way that it creates a contrast. The material is only minimally removed.
In both of these processes, the laser emits pulses and changes the surface of the material due to the high energy. Laser etching a metal, for example, requires less energy per area than engraving. Laser etching can create different shades on the surface. Laser etching is faster than engraving. On the other hand, laser engraving is more durable and has a higher resistance to abrasion due to the resulting depressions.
How does laser etching work?
In laser etching, the surface of the material is melted and vaporized by the laser beam, i.e. the material is removed. The resulting depression in the surface is permanent and abrasion-resistant engraving.
With the resulting contrast, or multi-layer materials (acrylic, etc.), color and a permanent motif become visible. If more energy is used in the laser process, more material is removed and the engraving can also be felt.
Does laser etching wear away? Is laser etching permanent?
As already described, the laser etching of plastics creates a marking through noticeable depressions. The surface is only minimally removed in the case of glass and metal. The marking is permanent. The advantages of laser etching are the speed and the very high contrast that can be achieved on the material compared to sandblasting, for example.
Laser etching can be used on many materials:
- Glass and crystal glass
- Stone, marble, granite
Which laser machines are suitable for laser etching?
Laser etching is a type of laser marking or laser engraving. Both CO2 and fiber lasers or the combination of both technologies in one machine are suitable for production.
What does a laser machine cost for etching material?
Laser etching requires less energy than laser engraving, and is therefore faster. For a Trotec Speedy 400 with 80W power, the hourly machine rate is approx. € 14.69. This includes maintenance costs, space, and energy costs, imputed interest, and imputed depreciation.
The purchase price for a laser engraver starts at approx. 9,000 euros. The costs can vary greatly depending on the work area and laser power. We can advise you on choosing the right laser engraver for personalization.
For those who want to buy a laser machine and manufacture products themselves, ongoing effort and costs are very interesting.
- Operating costs and maintenance requirements are very low for laser machines.
- Manufacturing processes can be easily automated and are therefore ideal for inline integration.