A laser, which is an acronym of Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, is a highly focused controlled beam of single colour light and can be used either to discolour the surface of a component or to vaporise material by laser ablation to produce a deep engraving. The laser parameters and position can be precisely controlled to provide high contrast marks in the form of barcodes, data matrix codes and logo graphics. If a surface is painted or anodised then the laser can be used to precisely remove the surface to give a contrast. By choosing a contrasting colour translucent substrate, a graphic can be backlit for night and day readability for example on car dashboards and aircraft cockpit controls.
What materials can be marked?
All metals (both precious and non-precious), most plastics, glass and many ceramics can be marked or etched.
As the demand for more personalized items of jewelery has increased, many jewelers are appreciating the benefits of lasers and their engraving capability.
By using a laser, engraving tasks such as inscriptions, texturing or etching can be achieved with more precise control and flexibility in design and excellent results can be achieved with minimal training. Earlier laser engraving machines were outrageously expensive and far out of the reach of the independent retail jeweler to consider buying. Advances in technology and a reduction in price now make the option much more affordable allowing jewelers to offer the service as an in-house option to customers using desktop units.
Laser engraving machine manufacturers have developed some very specialized equipment specifically for jewelery applications. They have designed attachments that can engrave the inside of a ring as well as the outside and have also created machines that have the ability to engrave the backs of watches, lockets and inside of bangles. A curved surface is not an obstacle to a laser engraving machine.
Many manufactured components need marking or branding in the form of serial numbers, product codes, data matrix and barcodes, logos, serial numbers and product codes. EU compliant components need CE marking and many components require traceability. Laser marking information such as this gives a non-damaging, permanent, and aesthetic solution. Parts can be directly marked and this can be useful where labels must be avoided. Almost all sectors of industry already benefit from laser technology and a quick glance around a room will almost certainly find something that has been marked by laser.