Editorial Feature

Laser Marking of Metals and Ceramics

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The technique of laser marking involves using a focused Nd:YAG laser to produce permanent color images on the surface of various materials like metals, glass, and ceramics.

It is also a non-firing, non-contact, digital decoration system ideal for text, logos, and vector graphics. Both conventional and 2D bar codes are supported by the laser software.

Requirements for a Laser Marking System

The main requirements for a novel marking technology are given below:

  • It must have high resolution
  • It must provide high contrast
  • It must be fast
  • It must be permanent

Advantages of Laser Marking Technologies

Laser marking can be used for decoration purposes or for marking on a ceramic or metal product. Its benefits are mentioned below:

  • It facilitates customization
  • It allows unique and sequential identification of products
  • It is rapid, enabling writing speeds of up to 20″/second or 500 mm/second
  • It is a flexible manufacturing technique in which a computer-controlled, digital decoration technology is used

The Laser System

The laser system is designed for maintenance-free and long-lasting functioning that reduces regular service downtime and improves productivity. A monolithic structure in the Ytterbium DPSS fiber laser delivers a stable power output for more than 25,000 hours without being impacted by varied industrial environmental conditions like temperature, vibration, and airborne contamination.

The Ytterbium DPSS fiber laser also eliminates the need for costly and time-intensive replacement of a lamp or diode, which is currently necessitated by conventional lamp- and diode-pumped laser-marking systems. There are different power laser sources—such as 5, 10, and 20 W CW Ytterbium diode-pumped solid-state fiber laser—operating at ~1060 nm wavelength. In addition, a pulsed laser is offered for etching purposes.

The Marking Materials

The marking materials are user-friendly and eco-friendly water-based products. They do not contain cadmium or lead, and can also be incorporated into a ceramic tape.

The Laser Head

The laser head is different from other laser marking systems. For instance, it can move to the substrate rather than rely on expensive mechanical handling systems. The 5-m fiber-optic connection allows the laser to be connected to robotic or manual steering systems. As a result, the head can be located remotely.

The Importance of Customizing Parameters

Laser power and the writing speed have to be improved for each type of color and substrate to make sure that the laser marking is ideal for all ceramic substrates. This should also be associated with the improved chemical resistance of the ceramic colors.

Benefits of Laser Marking

Laser marking offers the following benefits:

  • Ideal for producing a long-lasting mark onto colored glazes and thus prevent the need for subsequent firing
  • A rapid one-stage process prevents the need for firing
  • Perfect and conveniently automated for small-scale production
  • Facilitates customization of products
  • Can reduce stock levels as well as order response time
  • Non-contact digital decoration technique
  • Enables sequential product identification

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