The Different Types of Laser Markers

Laser marking is a technology to mark surfaces or components using a fine spot diameter laser beam and is widely employed for creating permanent marks such as serial numbers, brand name, on a variety of materials. A Laser marker is used to mark drawings and texts directly on materials such as metals and non-metals using a fine spot laser. It moves a spot laser beam to vaporize, anneal, engrave, or remove a surface of the material, resulting in a definite and clear marking. No ink and solvent is required, unlike marking with conventional ink jet markers. Since no ink gets attached to surface material, it can be easily recycled. Laser markers generally do not require any post-process finishing operations, so manufacturing process can be reduced significantly. Various materials such as ceramics, plastic, semiconductors, glass, paper are acceptable; in addition, it also accepts materials with an oil film in which an inkjet marker cannot. Here are a few common laser markers available in the market.

The markers available in the market mainly differ based on the type of laser source they use. The most common are fiber lasers, CO2 lasers, and crystal lasers. Each type of laser has its own advantages and disadvantages and is suited for marking different materials.

CO2 Laser Markers

CO2 lasers are gas lasers that are based on a mixture of carbon dioxide gas that is electrically stimulated. With a wavelength of approx 10.6 micrometers, they are best suited for working on most plastics and non-metallic materials. These feature a very good beam quality and have a relatively high-efficiency. Hence, they are the most popularly used laser types. CO2 markers are best suited for marking the following materials- acrylic, wood, glass, textiles, paper, plastics, films and foils, stone, leather, and more!

Fiber Laser Markers

Fiber laser markers are associated with the solid state laser group. They generate a laser beam using a seed laser and amplify it in specially fabricated glass fibers, which are supplied with energy through pump diodes. With a general wavelength of approximately 1.064 micrometers, fiber marker can produce an extremely small focal diameter; as a result, with the same emitted average power, its intensity can range up to 100 times higher than that of CO2 lasers. They are optimally suited for marking metals by way of annealing, for high-contrast plastic markings, and for metal engraving. Fiber lasers feature a long service life and are generally maintenance-free. They are suited for marking the following materials- coated metals, Metals, and plastics.

Nd:YVO , Nd:YAG, (Crystal Laser Markers)

Crystal laser markers belong to the solid-state lasers. Nowadays, most of the lasers for marking applications are powered by diodes (in the past by flash lamps were employed). The most popular types in this category are Nd: YVO (neodymium-doped yttrium ortho-vanadate) and Nd: YAG (neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet), named after the carrier crystal and the doping element neodymium. With a wavelength of 1.064 micrometers, crystal markers have the same wavelength as fiber lasers and are hence also applied for marking metals and plastics. Unlike fiber lasers, these markers include relatively expensive pump diodes, which are the wearing parts. They must be replaced after certain hours of work. It is best suited for marking the following materials- coated metals, metals, plastics, to some extent also for ceramic.

The type of laser marker for different applications must be carefully selected after understanding the specifications.

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