An Intro to Plastic Laser Marking
Laser marking provides us with a fast, high quality, versatility non-contact marking solutions. Laser marking can produce high-quality images at a considerable cost as opposed to traditional tooling and manufacturing methods such as the elimination of secondary processes, consumable disposal, as well as inventory expenses. Laser marking provides quality images that are aesthetically pleasing and with pinpoint precision which can contribute to the final product’s value.
Plastic is one of the best materials for laser marking, although the material can be challenging to mark in terms of the interaction of the laser to the material. This will require both knowledge in material chemistries and imaging techniques to ensure that the material is marked as well as the colors are compatible and are able to meet the aesthetic requirements for the product. Knowledge of the inner workings of the plastic laser marking and its capabilities is key to the successful implementation of plastic laser marking technology.
Laser marking is a thermal process. This means it makes use of a high intensity beam of light in order to make a clear mark on a material’s surface. As the material absorbs the laser, the surface temperature increases to incur a color change and in the case of engraving, the vaporization of the material leaving a deep mark.
Plastic laser marking employs mirrors mounted on computer controlled high-speed galvanometers in order to direct the laser beam across the surface of the material. Each of the individual galvanometers provides one axis of motion on the marking field. The multi-element flat field lens construction will subsequently focus the laser to achieve the high enough power to alter the surface of the material and leave a contrasting mark.
Laser marking technology is able to mark surfaces with great speed and precision. It is able to mark at 5,000mm per second with its positioning speeds in between strokes of 50,000mm per second. Since the marking process is reliant on the plastic’s heat conduction, the marking speeds are usually dialed down to ensure proper heat conduction and produce a good image.
The technology is able to duplicate any black and white image as well as capable of marking with various light weights. It is also able to produce images that are as small as 1/10000s of an inch and imaging technology with intricate graphics of various line weights, accuracy, and resolution of up to 1/1000s of an inch. But since the image is being drawing using lasers, marking time can vary. Marking time can be significantly affected by the amount and complexity of the image or text.
This process is amazing and is considered superior compared to its more traditional counter parts as it does not cause loss of material during the marking process; this is because the laser simply changes the color of the material. Since this color change is a reaction of the plastic as opposed to being a print, it is virtually indelible. Plastic laser marking is so versatile that it can be used on a variety of plastics from identification badges all down to pens.
Plastic laser marking has been considered to be the industry standard when printing bar codes and other kinds of unobtrusive tracking as the laser markings are virtually indestructible. And lastly, plastic laser marking technology is also considered Eco-friendly as it negates the use of solvents and inks making it safe for the environment.
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