For manufacturers of engineering parts, a good traceability system is a vital part of quality monitoring. The use of laser engraving 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.
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.
In contrast to more traditional methods of marking, 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.
From traceability to enhancement
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.
The 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 jewellery 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 use a laser engraving machine treatment for parts numbers, tracking numbers, serial numbers and company branding.
The medical industry is a particularly heavy user of stainless steel because of the industry’s strict requirement for materials that will not produce or transmit biological and chemical contaminants. Surgical tools made of this metal can withstand repeated cycles of sterilisation by autoclave and the oxidative effect of several sterilising chemicals. Stainless steel prosthetics, such as hip bone replacements and cranial plates, can be made of alloys especially designed to resist mechanical wear and biological reactions.
Lasers are also the technology of choice of the medical industry to comply with the FDA’s mandate to mark all medical tools and devices with a unique device identifier (UDI). This requirement creates a system of traceability and liability for all medical devices, where each product can be traced and identified to its manufacturer. Having such a system compels medical device manufacturers to be accountable for the quality of their products in case of a product recall.
Medical devices, in particular, should not have deep etches, as these become perfect breeding grounds for bacteria. For this reason, annealing stainless steel is an especially appropriate process as it merely changing the colour of the metal through a chemical reaction without consuming any of the material. Thus, the surface of the material remains as smooth as it was before the engraving process.
The automotive industry is another industry that benefits from the use of laser technology to comply with traceability standards. Every vehicle – whether it’s a car, bus, motorcycle, farm machinery, or construction equipment – needs to be marked with a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) once it leaves the manufacturing facility. The VIN is a 17-character serial number that is commonly marked at various components of the vehicle such as the chassis and the engines. Moreover, automotive manufacturers regularly make their own marks on their parts, whether to serve their own tracking system or simply to provide branding.
In the manufacturing of electronics, laser etching has been used to create customised process control boards or PCBs.
PCBs are the brains behind most consumer electronics, providing a compact system for the controlled connection of different electronic components. Laser etching technology allows custom PCBs to be manufactured rapidly and with pinpoint accuracy. In terms of speed, accuracy, and cost, laser etching trumps all other methods of PCB manufacturing.
Aside from executing PCB designs, a PCB laser etching machine can also be used to mark various electrical components with critical information such as barcodes, part numbers, 2D and UID codes, QR codes, serial numbers, batch numbers, logos, and business information. These marks allow manufacturers to improve traceability, identify specific electrical components during warranty claims, enforce trademark protection and more.
The art of making jewellery is a craft that is as old as time. Although the manufacturing techniques and styles have changed and evolved throughout the different eras, the appeal of jewellery has remained the same. The visual quality is borne of the rare and precious materials used in making each jewellery piece, as well as from the skill and expertise of the craftsmen behind them. Nowadays, it is no longer enough that jewellery items look good; they also must have a personalised flair to them. A jewellery laser engraving machine excels in precisely this department and can add serious value to your business and our products.
For manufacturers of engineering parts, a good traceability system is a vital part of quality monitoring. The use of a laser marking 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. With the help of a laser etching machine, you can ensure your assets are permanently traceable and identifiable.
FLEXIBLE, POWERFUL, DEPENDABLE
The N-Lase Benchtop laser is a large form-factor system that can fit almost any laser source within our range! Boasting an expansive working area and 3-sided access it is ideal for the larger more demanding tasks. What’s more, due to the N-Lase Benchtop modular design and larger size, it can be upgraded with anything from a 4-axis control system to auto-part recognition