Laser Marking Systems for Manufacturing: Abilities, Applications & More

Laser Marking 101

What do DVD players, checkout lines at the grocery store, and industrial marking machines all have in common? Lasers. But not all lasers are the same. 

L.A.S.E.R. stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. In simpler terms, it’s a highly concentrated beam of light. Lasers consist of a: 

  • Gain medium: a material that works in tandem with electrical currents to stimulate the photons of light as it passes through
  • Energy supply: Energy supply for lasers usually comes in the form of electrical currents. These currents are “pumped” through the grain medium to stimulate the atom as light passes through. The pumping of electrical currents causes the light to bounce faster through the grain medium. 
  • A material to provide optical feedback: The materials chosen for optical feedback have one primary job: steering. the way the beam of light is directed  

While the standard laser pointer used in conference rooms and lecture halls are safe for the user with no protection, part marking lasers fall into two classes governed by the CDRH – Class I and Class IV:

  • Class I lasers are housed inside a safety enclosure. No laser radiation can escape from the enclosure, and the machine operator doesn’t need to take any additional safety precautions. 
  • Class IV means the laser is applied in an “open” configuration where the operator can be directly exposed to laser radiation. In this case, laser safety glasses are a must. 

Both classes of lasers are used in industrial laser marking systems, and are able to produce different types of results depending on the material being marked. Some jobs may require a mark that requires no physical damage be done to the substrate while others require deep engraving.

Here are 5 applications laser marking systems have in the manufacturing industry: