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How Do I Choose The Right Laser Marking Technology ?

Laser part marking technology is becoming more and more important in all realms of manufacturing, from automotive to aerospace and medical industries. This is because of the growing demand from manufacturers and federal regulations to be able to track and trace products throughout their lifecycle.


One of the most common questions we get at SAN LASER is “How do I choose the right marking technology for my application?” The truth is, marking and engraving technology is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and there are a number of factors that go into choosing the best solution for your application.


So, before you go out and make a large investment in marking equipment for your plant, here are three main considerations to help you in choosing the best laser technology:


1. Materials


Your first consideration is the type of material you’re going to be marking. We like to break materials down into two main classifications: Organic or non-organic.


Organic materials are those like wood, glass, plastic or paper products. Metals, steel, cast aluminum—anything that will spark when you put it into a microwave (although we don’t recommend doing that)—is considered non-organic material.  


2. Type of Mark


Now that you’ve determined your material, what do you want the mark to look like? Are you looking for deep marks? Do you want more contrast in your marks?


Depending on the type of marking technology, you can create either a dark or a frosted mark. For instance, if you’re doing barcode technology and struggling with your vision systems’ ability to read the code, you’d want to use frosted backgrounds and dark marks. It’s all about your particular situation and how you want your final product to look.


3. Safety Considerations


Think about where your engraving machine is going to be placed. Will it be on the plant floor near operators, or do you have a dedicated, enclosed space for it? Will this machine be replacing another type of technology such as ink jet?


You should know that if your laser marker will be located on an open shop floor, your laser supplier should help you install a Class I safety system. This includes a laser-safe enclosure and warning lights, curtains to form safe entryways and other safety considerations.


If you have a Class IV laser, you would need a dedicated room that meets certain safety conditions, such as area posting, protective eyewear and a key switch so that it still meets safety requirements.


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