Since laser etching is a non-contact process, it has certain advantages over competing etching processes, including the elimination of tool wear and bit breakage, which are regular occurrences in direct-contact etching. With the elimination of the usual wear and tear, laser etching proves a more cost-effective process as well.
Quick links to Laser Etching Information
Advantages of Laser Etching
Laser etching serves wide-ranging applications including direct laser imaging, ink stamping, bar-coding, calibration, printing and sub surface laser engraving. Offering precision etching at high rates, laser etching services are useful for industries including architectural, agricultural, electronic, automotive, construction and transportation. Jewelry has become a huge employer of laser cutters in recent years, since intricately designed accessories have come into fashion. Laser etching is often followed by other aesthetic processes; for example, the etching in plastic materials is often painted afterwards to highlight the contrast that much more.
Process of Laser Etching
Laser etching, also known as laser engraving, is a non-contact technique that utilizes laser beams to mark a material. Since the process is a CNC laser cutting system, laser etching ensures that each unit will be produced in a completely uniform manner. As an extremely focused radiation of wavelength, laser beams emit heat energy that can alter the surface layers of most materials under its focal point and create marks or patterns.
Types of Laser Etching Machines
Laser etching is performed through laser etching machines of which there are three main types:
- XY Tables
- Cylindrical Workpieces
- Stationary Workpieces that Utilize Galvo Mirrors for Movement
These machines are made up of three main parts: a laser, a controller and a surface. The controller, which is typically a combination of CNC and CAD computer systems, which are basically the computer program that designs the controls for the laser cutting machine, emits the laser beam and controls its direction, intensity, speed and spread. The focused beam of the laser vaporizes or burns away surface layers of materials that are positioned upon the surface. Assist gases like nitrogen or carbon dioxide are then used in conjunction with the laser to prepare newly cut surfaces for painting and corrosion resistance.
Applications for Laser Etching
Laser etching is ideal for materials such as:
- Metals and Alloys
- Silicon Wafers
- Graphite and Polymers
- And More
Due to its detailed accuracy, design flexibility and permanence, laser etching is often preferred over traditional mechanical etching and other non-traditional etching techniques.