How to Choose the Best Laser Machine for Your Marking Application – Part I

When it comes to laser marking machines, most first-time customers find it difficult to pick the right machine for their application. The reason is there are a variety of machines available in the marketplace, each designed with different lasers and materials. The wrong choice can lead to immense expenditure in terms of time, effort, and money. Hence, it is important for first-time buyers to understand certain points when looking for laser marking machines for their facilities.

Points to Consider when Choosing Laser Marking Machines

Apart from some minor considerations, there are six main points that need to be kept in mind when choosing a laser marking machine for your facility. Let us take a look at these points in detail.

  1. Type of Laser: Today, three different laser marking systems are utilized for the most part – CO2 Lasers, Nd:YAG (rod lasers), and Ytterbium (fiber lasers). Rod and fiber laser machines are the popular choices used by most industries, while CO2 lasers are generally used for simpler, personal applications, though this is not always true. All three laser machines are priced similarly, depending on the power output and options.
  1. Type of Material: This is an important factor, as customers have to understand how a particular material absorbs laser light at a certain wavelength. Generally, plastics and organic materials have the ability to absorb high laser wavelengths, above 10,000 nm. Metals in general have an excellent absorption rate up to 1064 nm. This distinction is important, as it will guide the customer to the right laser for their application. Metals will have to be marked with either an Nd:YAG rod laser or a Ytterbium fiber laser. Plastics are marked very well with CO2 lasers, but can be marked with Nd:YAG or fiber lasers depending on the plastic itself.
  1. Pulse Duration: The pulse duration is important, as it affects the amount of laser penetration and depth in a material. Solid state pulsed laser machines are also known as nanosecond (ns) lasers. Depending on the type a customer chooses, the laser machine will be able to achieve a pulse duration ranging from 5 to 200 ns. The pulses can be controlled to be short or long depending on the laser. Short pulses are used for HAZ materials, day-night marking, or other sensitive applications. Long pulses are used for stronger materials, or for more precise marking applications.

These are the initial three points that customers should look at when searching for laser machines. We will discuss the remaining three points, as well as the minor considerations in the next post.

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