Laser engraving is a way of leaving a permanent mark on a material, often metals. Unlike other techniques, when laser engraving, the laser actually removes parts from the surface of the material being worked on. This means you can both see and physically feel the mark left by laser engraving. To find out more about laser engraving and the difference between it and other techniques, read our laser marking, engraving and etching article.
But what sort of things do you need to consider when thinking about laser engraving on metal?
In this article, we’ll explain some common uses of laser engraving, what metals can be laser engraved, and information on the machinery and laser power required for laser engraving.
Laser engraving has a range of uses in many different industries. These applications include:
One industry that laser engraving is particularly useful for is the automotive industry. In the automotive industry, traceability of parts and components is hugely important, particularly parts related to safety.
Identifying marks can be engraved on the components, including product information, manufacturer information and where it was made. If there is a faulty component, the manufacturer or whoever is dealing with the issue can look at the identifiers on the parts, allowing them to find out the component’s identifying codes, when it was manufactured and where the part was produced. This helps with product recalls and warranty decisions.
There are a number of benefits that come with using a laser engraving machine for engraving metal compared to other marking techniques, including:
Another great benefit is the wide range of metals that can be engraved with a laser engraving machine.
Due to the nature of laser engraving, it can be used on a huge variety of metals, including:
Laser engraving machines equipped with fibre lasers are the best suited laser type for laser engraving, compared to the likes of UV and CO2 lasers.
Fibre lasers are a type of solid-state laser (it uses a solid gain medium) that produces an extremely intense laser beam. This intensity is what makes fibre lasers so well-suited for metal engraving (including coated metals); the high intensity and small focal diameter give it an especially focused beam.
Plus, laser engraving machines that use fibre lasers are typically more compact than other laser machines, whilst offering a highly efficient and dependable laser, making it a great option for engraving metal.
As discussed, you need a certain amount of intensity in order to laser engrave metal. What power laser is required to create this intensity?
The recommended power is at least 50 watts of fibre laser in order to reliably engrave metal, although 25-80 watts may be required depending on the circumstance and the metal being engraved.
For obvious reasons, a flat surface is far easier to engrave on than a curved one. The laser beam can smoothly move across the flat metal surface evenly. Compare this to engraving on a stationary curved surface, and it may produce distortions and stretched text, lines and images.
Luckily there are attachments that you can add to your laser engraving machine that can combat this if you need to laser engrave on a curved, round, cylindrical or conical metal surface. By using a rotary engraving attachment, the curved object being engraved can be turned and rotated as it is lasered, allowing for engraving without distortions on round surfaces.
Rotary attachments make it relatively easy to engrave most metal objects, no matter the shape.
When laser engraving, it’s important to remember the laser classifications, what they entail and the safety precautions that come with them:
Ready to start laser engraving on metal? Get in touch with Inks & More to find out more about our laser engraving machines provided by Lasit and information on what machine is right for you and your needs. What’s more, we’re the sole UK distributor of Lasit laser engraving machinery, so you won’t be able to get their quality machines anywhere else!
Contact us today and start your laser engraving journey.