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Laser Etching: Five Common Questions Answered

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Estimated reading time: 3 mins

Individuals who need to mark an item frequently turn to laser etching to complete this task. They love its speed and durability. However, a person might have questions before deciding this is the right technique for the item they need marked. The following serve as five common questions a person might ask when choosing a laser marking process. 

What is Laser Etching? 

During laser etching, laser machines melt the surface of a product or part to create a mark. Laser etching servers as a type of laser marking and may be used with a variety of metals. When producing this raised mark, the laser beam focuses its intensity on a small area. The energy produced during this process melts and expands the surface. When doing so, it may color the material, leaving behind a mark that is gray, white, or black. Most people use laser etching to produce permanent marks on items, such as serial numbers or logos.

How Does Laser Etching Differ From Laser Engraving?

While laser etching takes less time, laser engravings last longer. Etching the material requires less energy because the process only melts the material. When engraving a material, more energy is needed to vaporize it. In fact, a deep laser engraving often requires several passes of the laser, which means the process takes longer. 

Engraving an item offers it more protection against abrasion than etching techniques do. This is due to the depth of engraving, which can reach 500 microns. Laser etching elevations never exceed 80 microns. Most people prefer etching unless they need the material to have a high resistance to abrasion. 

Etching an item allows for greater contrast between the markings. Engraving the material with a laser will leave behind black marks, but etching the same materials produces both black and white ones. 

Material Options

Individuals find they can etch most metals with a laser. For instance, one person might wish to etch aluminum while another has a steel product they need etched. The laser works with both and can also be used with stainless steel as well as lead and magnesium. 

Which Laser Do You Need?

People must know which laser to purchase if they wish to etch items. Fiber lasers remain the only option today for those who wish to try their hand at laser etching. Metals react better when this type of laser is used. What many people don’t realize is the material determines the type of laser needed rather than the marking process. 

The Durability of Laser Etchings

How long does a laser etching last? Men and women need this information when deciding which marking technique to use. The laser-etched mark remains readable for the lifespan of the item and will continue to be legible long past the time when other direct part marks have faded. Laser etching holds up under powder coating, heat treating, e-coating, or any non-abrasive treatment. 

Nevertheless, laser etching comes with some limitations. A person can remove a laser-etched mark with the help of sandblasting and shotblasting. If the mark must remain legible following an abrasive treatment, it must be created using shotblast resistance laser engraving techniques. Speak with a laser expert to determine if laser etching is the appropriate technique for your needs. Projects differ in terms of their requirements. By speaking with a knowledgeable expert, a person can ensure their item is properly marked and no damage occurs in the process of carrying out this task.

 

About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Truthsayers Neurotech, the world's first Neurotech platform servicing the enterprise. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development and Associate Member of the Agile Business Consortium.

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