Lasers have been used for many years to mark and engrave metal to achieve great results. Both soft metals like aluminum and hard metals like steel or hard alloys can be marked accurately, highly legibly and quickly using a laser engraving machine. Consistent, high quality results are guaranteed by using lasers for metal marking needs. Corrosion resistant markings by annealing on steel alloys offer many advantages for applications in business sectors such as medical technology and the automobile industry. Depending on your requirements metals can be engraved or marked.

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Suitable types of metal for laser marking

Suitable types of metal for laser marking and engraving

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

Why should I buy a laser for laser marking metal?

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.

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You want to learn more about Trotec lasers and applications?

Our laser experts are happy to answer your questions about our products and laser processing. They will help you discover all the possibilities of lasers. One solution, thousands of possibilities. Additionally we invite you to see our lasers and applications at one of our demonstration facilities.

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Applications for metal marking

Laser application in marking metals are typicaly used for marking products with traceability features and codes. 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.

Application examples

  • 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

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.

Trotec Product Recommendations for Laser Marking