Everything You Need to Know About Laser Etching

Posted by Steven Glassner on April 26th, 2021

Speed and durability are the factors that make laser etching suitable for marking applications.

So, in this article, we'll learn everything about laser etching - how does it work? What kind of materials can you etch? Why should you brand spare parts like Trumpf spare parts or Prima spare parts? What are the various types of laser etching? And how to implement it?

Let's start by understanding the laser etching process. 

What is Laser Etching

It is a process that melts the surface of the material and creates marks on it. It belongs to the category of laser marking that also includes laser engraving and laser annealing. Laser etching is highly versatile and can be used with most metals.

It is mainly used to produce permanent markings such as data matrix codes, serial numbers, barcodes, and logos. 

How Does Laser Etching Work

Whichever laser marking method you use, there's one thing common in all. The laser beam is pulsed, which then releases sudden bursts of energy at specific time intervals. A 100W laser pulse can release 100,000 pulses within a second. Each pulse consists of 1 millijoule of energy and can reach a max of 10,000W power.

In laser etching, the metal requires less energy than engraving. Hence, in etching, the pulses are more distant compared to engraving.

For marking, the beam hits the surface, and materials absorb the energy. It reflects most of it while absorbing a proportion, converting it to heat. For laser etching, the material should absorb enough heat to melt the surface and expand.

When the beam's energy is transformed to heat, the temperature increases. At such a high temperature, the material becomes malleable, allowing its shape to change.

As the material cools down within milliseconds, the surface roughness of the material changes, making a permanent mark. Also, the color change occurs as a result of permanent marking. For high-quality, black and white make the best contrast. 

This is a generic process. However, each material would have its own course of the process. The process would be optimized and different from the general process. 

What Materials Can You Etch with Laser?

Laser etching is a versatile process, and you can etch almost all the materials. Here are the few from the list of non-exhaustive. 

  • Aluminum

  • Lead

  • Magnesium

  • Steel

  • Steel Stainless

  • Zinc

  • Anodized Aluminum

Types of Laser Etching Laser

You can only use fiber lasers for laser etching. The reason is that etching is a process used for metals and thus reacts better with a fiber laser. To be precise, the laser depends on the material you want to etch and not on the marking process.

But why do you exactly need fiber lasers? Let us find out!

Lasers release beams and energy at specific intervals. The material reflects most of the energy while absorbs the remaining, converting it to heat. For etching, the material should absorb enough heat to melt the surface.

Now, fiber and Co2 lasers generate different wavelengths, and each material reflects these wavelengths differently. To maximize the heat transfer, the material should absorb enough wavelength. If you test it, you will find that material absorbs fiber wavelength more efficiently than Co2 lasers, making it a better choice for marking materials.

Why you Should Choose Branded Spare Parts

We often talk about lasers - how to choose lasers and maintain them. But we forget that a spare part or a consumable is what defines the further use of that laser during a wear-and-tear.

To ensure that the marking quality is as precise as it was in the initial stages, use spare parts such as Trumpf spare parts. These branded parts are high-quality, have better resistance, and don't wear quickly. As in laser etching, the energy release is high, and the spare parts would ensure that they are high temperature resistant and can withstand energy. 

How to Implement Laser Etching

Consult an expert that offers laser marking machines and OEM laser markers. Specify your requirements and take their guidance about the same.

Steven Glassner

About the Author

Steven Glassner
Joined: January 10th, 2018
Articles Posted: 83

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