Despite the prevalence of alternative materials, there is no doubt that metals remain the workhorse of the manufacturing industry. Metals provide a unique combination of durability, workability, heat and chemical resistance, and visual appeal that makes them the material for choice for several industrial and commercial applications. Marking and engraving of metals parts have practically become an essential part of working with metals, whether it is for traceability purposes or as a visual enhancement. To this end, laser engraving machines for metal have become a standard tool for industries that heavily use metals such as engineering, manufacturing, and jewelry making, among others.

Metal laser engraver technology has become so useful that it is now being used in both big industries and small-scale applications. Industrial parts such as pipes, fittings, pump casings, and motor parts often receive the metal engraving machine treatment for parts numbers, tracking numbers, serial numbers and company branding.

For manufacturers of these engineering parts, a good traceability system is a vital part of quality monitoring. The use of a laser etching machine for metal ensures that these traceability marks are permanent and will remain legible for a long time – especially useful for parts that undergo a lot of friction and heat.

Outside of major engineering parts, a metal etching machine can also be used to make legible marks on common engineering tools such as callipers, wrenches, and drill bits. Some of these parts are incredibly small, making laser engraving a particularly suitable technology for marking characters that are still legible at 1-point size. In the case of callipers and other measuring tools, the precision and accuracy of the markings are key. The automated process of a metal etching machine delivers superior repeatability and consistency, ensuring that engineering measuring tools have ticks and readings that are marked and positioned accurately.

Engineering parts and tools go through a lot of stress under normal use. Pipe fittings come into constant contact with reactive fluids, motor parts are in a constant state of vibration, while the regular use of tools results in eventual wear and tear. For proper traceability, it is critical that essential marks can withstand abrasion, heat, and corrosive fluids. All of these are achievable by using a metal engraving machine, although different treatments can be used for different materials and applications.

It is also essential that the structural integrity of the part or tool marked does not suffer because of the etching process. A metal engraving machine removes only a thin layer of metal material to make permanent marks – not enough to cause any structural damage. The technology of annealing metal is especially interesting, as it does not remove material at all but instead alters the metal at a molecular level to result in a change of colour.

Can mark the smallest of parts

Outside of major engineering parts, a metal etching machine can also be used to make legible marks on common engineering tools such as callipers, wrenches, and drill bits. Some of these parts are incredibly small, making laser marking a particularly suitable technology for marking characters that are still legible at 1-point size. In the case of callipers and other measuring tools, the precision and accuracy of the markings are key. The automated process of a metal etching machine delivers superior repeatability and consistency, ensuring that engineering measuring tools have ticks and readings that are marked and positioned accurately.

Personalised etching for consumers

Outside of engineering parts and tools, laser etching machines for metal is regularly used for promotional gifts, signages, and advertising materials. Typical gift items made of metal include bottle openers, lighters, pocket knives, cutlery, picture frames, key fobs, and jewelry. Laser engraving metal gives these gift items a more personalised feel. The designs that can be reproduced by a metal laser engraver are practically limitless – company logos, fancy text, QR codes, even photos can be etched on a piece of metal item.

The advertising and sign making industry has also benefitted greatly from laser marking technology. Signs made from metal are made to last for a long time. Most metal signs are also placed outdoors where natural elements can quickly degrade their conditions. With laser marking metal, marks and designs made in metal signages will withstand the test of time.

The personalisation of jewelry is one of the major markets of laser etching machines. Nowadays, it’s no longer enough that a piece is made of high-quality precious metal – it also has to have an element that is unique to the person who owns it. With a metal laser engraver, every piece of jewelry can have a design that sets it apart. A metal laser engraver is uniquely suited to engraving on small pieces of jewelry due to its top-of-the-line accuracy and precision.

Can be used for different types of metal

The types of metals that a laser engraver can be used on are as varied as its applications. A metal laser marker can be used to make permanent marks on stainless steel, soft metals, hardened metals, alloys, titanium, titanium alloys, brass, copper, carbides, high-speed steels, aluminium, anodised aluminium, coated metals, and precious metals such as silver and gold. With the right equipment and experienced operator at the helm, switching over from one metal to another will be as simple as changing laser parameters on the accompanying software.

In contrast to more traditional methods of marking, a the machine does not require consumables such as inks, chemicals, or pastes. The handling and disposal of these consumables will be one less thing to worry about, allowing businesses to focus on more important things.

Metals that are etched using lasers do not have to undergo any pre or post-treatment. Coupled with the speed with which a laser machine works without the need for tool changes, a laser marker effectively completes the job faster and with less effort.

Being an almost fully automated piece of equipment, the laser system delivers a consistent quality of results all the time. The resolution that laser marking can achieve is extremely small, allowing for the smallest shapes and text to be engraved accurately and legibly. Laser marking provides practically unlimited design opportunities. With the right materials, a metal engraving machine can even produce coloured laser markings.

Laser marking is a non-contact technology, meaning that the material being marked does not need to undergo undue stress. There is no need to fix the materials to the engraving platform, so items can be shuffled in and out quickly, saving up on precious production time. The absence of any physical force on the item due to engraving and clamping lessens the chances of rejects due to secondary damage, ultimately leading to cost savings for the company.

Summary

With highly customisable parameters and a variety of laser types, laser systems for metal have quickly become the technology of choice for the permanent and high-quality marking of metal items. Different metals have different demands – some may be harder than others, while some may be highly reflective – and the versatility of laser solutions gives it all the tools to handle these demands.

 

Whatever application a laser is used for, it gives mostly the same benefits of being faster than traditional methods, making permanent and legible marks with a high degree of detail, being very reliable, and being the more cost-effective option. Whether it is for traceability, branding, customisation, or personalisation, laser marking is far and away the best technology available for marking and engraving of different types of metal.

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