Today, coding medical equipment and other products are common. Increasingly, laser marking machines (LMMs) take their place on the product packaging line. They provide coding that makes it more difficult to tamper with the packaged goods. Many contract manufacturers include laser marking services as an integral part of what they offer OEMs and other industrial concerns.

Laser Marking Options

Depending upon how you define the terms “laser marking,” you have three major options from which to choose. These are:

  1. Laser Etching
  2. Laser Engraving
  3. Laser Marking

Picking the best method and laser to satisfy the customer can be challenging. While all three are permanent and provide a clear indication, only one option is actually defined by those who work in the business as laser marking. It is not interchangeable with either etching or engraving, although sometimes people transpose the terms using them incorrectly as synonyms.

Factors in Selecting Laser Marking Services

In choosing the best LMM or method, it is important to look at the factors that will affect the outcome. These include:

  • Material: What type are you marking? What you use for marking plastic differs from specific metals
  • Quality: What quality of mark does the customer require?
  • Purpose: Is this for a medical instrument, a food product or an item requiring less sanitary and fastidious measures?
  • Speed: How fast do you need to mark the items?
  • Uniqueness: How unique must this marking be?
  • Readability: Most products require a very clear and distinctive mark

Keeping these in mind will help you and your customer determine which the optimum laser marking system to utilize is. As a result, the specific laser candidates could be:

  • Nd:YAG
  • Nd:YVO4 (vanadate)
  • Fiber lasers

Each will have its own advantages and disadvantages in performing specific tasks. It could be ablation, annealing, foaming or any of several other types. Whatever the choice, the selected laser marking services should never interfere with the functionality of the item.