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.
In this blog, we take a look at 5 metals you can mark with ease with a laser engraving machine, and some of the industries who are already benefiting from these applications.
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.
Here are some metals that you can easily engrave with a laser marking machine.
Copper has high thermal conductivity and thermal transfer properties and is used commonly for wiring, printed circuit boards and pressurised flow meters. Their thermal properties are ideal for laser marking systems for metal because the heat is quickly dissipated.
Copper has excellent workability and lends itself well to processes such as brazing, welding, and soldering. Where increased hardness is desired, copper has been blended with other metals to form alloys such as brass, bronze, and sterling silver, all of which are commonly used to create jewellery.
A particularly useful characteristic of copper is its antimicrobial property. Copper and copper-alloy surfaces have the natural property of destroying microorganisms, making copper an excellent material for doorknobs, handrails, computer keyboards, faucets, and health club equipment. Being a biostatic material, many other forms of life cannot grow on a copper surface.
Gold metal needs little introduction. Valued for its rarity and visual appeal, jewellery made of gold has been used to convey affluence and elevated social status.
Since gold has a highly reflective surface, a pulsed fiber laser is a preferred technology to laser engrave gold. By using a laser with a higher energy density, the heat is quickly absorbed by the material. Despite the use of a high energy laser, the parameters of a pulsed fiber laser can be adjusted to work with very delicate materials such as extremely thin or hollow gold items.
Laser engraving gold is a common application within the jewellery sector, where jewellery manufacturers need to apply hallmarks to their items. Jewellery retailers and distributors also apply messages and marks to their gold jewellery items where personalisation is a part of their product offering.
A laser engraving machine is a perfect fit for engraving sterling silver. The precision of the laser beam ensures that very little is wasted when engraving or cutting the material. While the most common use of silver is in the jewellery sector, it is also utilised in other industries such as solar energy, automotive manufacturing, medicine, tableware and electronics.
When working with precious metals, the standard process for etching, engraving, marking is known as “annealing”. The annealing process is achieved by changing the colour of the silver metal by oxidation without any material loss. Since sterling silver is a relatively soft metal, a successful mark requires high-speed and limited power. The advantage of using such parameters means that a mark can be completed in seconds.
Stainless steel is one of the most widely used metals across several industries. Prized primarily due to its corrosion resistance, stainless steel comes in different grades and variants according to the ratio of chromium and molybdenum mixed into the steel alloy material.
In addition to its distinct corrosion resistance, stainless steel also has a measure of resistance against acid attack. It is a durable and versatile material that has a visual appeal due to its characteristic lustre and can stand up to most steam cleaning and sterilisation treatments.
Aside from its rapid turnaround being optimal for high-volume production, lasers provide an unmatched level of design freedom. Characters as small as 2pt and even QR codes can be quickly and accurately reproduced on signage, medical equipment and automotive parts.
Anodised aluminium is one of the most common metals used for laser marking purposes. Aluminium itself is a very widely used metal which is valued for its combination of being both lightweight and durable. This unique combination has made it the material of choice for aircraft and automotive products. The high electrical conductivity of aluminium has also made it an excellent material for long-distance power lines, satellite dishes, and in electrical components found in most household appliances and power systems.
We hope this blog has given some useful insight into different metals that can be marked with a laser engraving machine, and how such applications prove useful to a wide range of sectors and industries.
Are you or your business interested in the potential of laser engraving machines to mark metal items? Contact our team today:
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