Marking manufactured products with lasers has become increasingly important in manufacturing. More and more businesses are keeping track of their products in order to reduce expenses and monitor inventory. Manufacturers are convinced that traceability will ensure suppliers adhere to standard quality requirements, which will enhance the quality of their products and reduce recalls and counterfeiting.

Finding the right marking technology for your product and business is easier said than done, however. Marking technology, which consists of dot peening, Laser engraving, inkjet printing and electrochemical etching, is a broader category. Each of them has pros and cons, so understanding them is essential before making a choice. It is typical that suppliers select a method of marking a product based on some fundamental factors such as type of material, functionality, surface roughness & finish, mark size & dimension, mark quality, coating thickness, and serialization.

Direct marketing becomes mainstream

A lot of manufacturers have decided to use the direct part marking method, or DPM, to mark parts permanently with serial numbers. This is primarily because conventional marking techniques such as stickers do not allow for full life-cycle tracing. Manufacturers are quite fond of the DPM method; it is used by specialists for identifying medical parts. Usually, engraving is in the form of alphanumeric characters or barcodes or data-matrix codes. By using barcodes when marking parts, automated post-manufacturing processes can be achieved, such as serial and batch matching, or stock database management.

Laser marking technology’s benefits

Generally speaking, laser marking offers a number of advantages because it is fast and permanent; it also has a lower cost of ownership, doesn’t require any additional steps to ensure durability, and uses no consumables, so waste is minimized.

Marking technologies types

Inkjet Marking

The inkjet marking process, also called “on-the-fly marking,” uses pressured ink to mark a surface without contact. Continuous inkjet (CIJ) and drop-on-demand (DOD) are the two types of inkjet-based systems. Both materials must be moved in order for the marking to be created. DOD is a method for creating marks using various nozzles that deposit a dot without steering. Marking size and resolution depend on the spacing between arrays and nozzles. Alternatively, charged ink droplets are used to create characters with the CIJ method, which is oriented perpendicular to the material. A dot matrix character is formed as the parts move away from the nozzle.

Electrochemical Etching

Electrochemical etching is a method of marking materials by corroding them with specific electrical and chemical processes. The result is called the oxide black surface effect. The area to be marked must be thoroughly cleaned before the marking process can begin. Afterward, the material must be covered with a pre-produced mask. An electrolytic solution is then used to coat the material.

 As the process involves making contact between the electrode and the material, the making time may take a few seconds to a few hours, depending on the penetration level.

Laser Marking

Laser marking is rapidly replacing the old-fashioned engraving process because it is clean and fast. The benefits of laser marking include ease of automation, low ownership costs, and improved environmental profile, which all contribute to its success. Manufacturing companies can choose from a variety of laser varieties. The characteristics of each laser type are best suited for specific applications and materials. Carbon dioxide, ytterbium doped fiber, ultraviolet, green, and neodymium vanadate lasers are the most common lasers used for universal material marking.

Accuracy

The engraver must tread carefully if he wants to do engravings on expensive machines or products. You need just one small mistake, and the whole product will be ruined, which no one wants. You don’t have to worry about any of these things when you use laser printing. The engravings will be precise, and there is no risk of the product getting damaged.

The quality of laser marking is not compromised.

There is no need to etch the product or apply ink to the surface when laser marking. By using lasers instead of ink, damage-free marks can be produced.

We at Apple Rubber mark our parts with Apple LaserMark, a Samurai UV Laser Marking System. Its beam quality results in a smaller spot size of the laser because of its high beam quality. A small spot size and short pulses produce high peak power, which is beneficial for deep marking with crisp, clear marks and small characters.