How Laser Marking Works – Find The Optimal Method For Your Projects

What is Laser Marking?

In layman’s term, laser marking refers to the long-lasting procedure using concentrated beam light to produce a permanent engraving on a metal’s surface. Usually, it is done with a pulsed, fiber, or incessant wave laser machine. 

This method takes in an extensive array of users. Carbon migration, etching, engraving, annealing as well as discoloration are the common types of laser marking applications.

This process is automated and practices at high accuracy, leaving lasting traceability marks on an array of components, including copper, plastic, steel, aluminum, titanium, glass, cardboard, and paper. Parts and products can be marked with letters and numbers; machine-readable information like 2D Data Matrix codes, Unique ID codes, barcodes, or graphics.

Who Can Benefit from Laser Marking

Laser technology is considered one of the versatile modern inventions that can be utilized in virtually every industry, such as:

  • Automotive
  • Medical
  • Tooling and Industrial
  • Aerospace
  • Electronics
  • Oil and Gas
  • Military and Defense

The laser has its uses and benefits in every sector. In the manufacturing business, these are utilized in an array of daily works or tasks. Some of these tasks are cutting, cleaning, welding, measuring, drilling, sensing and marking, engraving, and etching.

There are other methods available to mark materials, but sad to say, most don’t provide the quality or eco-friendly markings which you get from laser marking, engraving, and etching.

Laser Marking Machine: How to Use

Laser marking functions by utilizing a concentrated beam of light to mark the material’s surface. Once the beam of light interrelates with the surface of a metal, it modifies its properties and form. This focused beam just targets a specified area, enabling the machine to make accurate, superior, and high-contrast marks which are easy to scan or read on almost any surface. Because of these features, laser marking is ideal to use to obtain permanency, which is vital to obtain success.

There are many kinds of laser marking systems, and each one works in a different manner. The right process to utilize the laser marking machine depends on the parts or materials you are working with the application you are using. There are resources available to assist you in operating your laser marking machine and fix any problems from thorough documentation to how-to videos.

It is vital to follow safety guidelines when utilizing a laser marking machine. Because of the array of preventative measures, such as safety enclosure alternatives, laser marking is considered a safe procedure.

Manufacturers are able to gain a lot of perks from this process. It doesn’t matter if it is the identification of basic parts and branding or total traceability to trace and monitor components from frame to grave. Direct part marking using a laser marking machine provides readable, durable marks. The outcomes of these superior marks, take account of:

  • Better operational efficiency as well as productivity with less downtime and waste
  • More accountability and visibility all through the supply chain
  • Reduce expensive threats like superiority and forging problems
  • Ensured fulfillment with industry standards and regulations 

What to Expect from Laser Marking

There are some perks laser marking has compared to other methods. Some of the benefits this method provides are:

Non-Contact Process

This is considered a non-contact procedure. So, the tools or equipment don’t come into contact with the component being marked. It just affects the parts targeted by the beam and no damage to the element.


This is extremely a precise method. This can be utilized to create marks on small objects with remarkable preciseness. Like for instance, lasers carry out the marking on a printed circuit board. The superior marking is legible and clear.

Environmentally Safe

It is eco-friendly as the process doesn’t generate any toxic byproducts.

High Speed

As opposed to other techniques, laser marking is super fast and utilizing it to lessen the time consumption and so the expenses. Using the best technique can further reduce the time required.

Low Cost

With laser marking, there is no day to day operation expense, besides the fees for electricity for the machine. The systems just require little human resources for handling. Operators only need to install the device that carries out the job automatically.

Easy to Adjust to Many Materials

A similar laser marking system is appropriate for an array of materials. This gives flexibility as most businesses utilize various kinds of components such as different metals, like structural steels, different aluminum grades, stainless steel, and many others.

What Kinds of Laser Marking Methods Exist?

For manufacturing companies who require this system, well, there are many things to remember before purchasing. Keep in mind that it is vital to know the type of laser marking ideal and appropriate for the business you are in. What is more, each laser marking tool/machine provides various functions and will generate different kinds of marks.

To know which laser marking methods would be ideal for your business’ production needs, you will have to work out between the four most popular kinds of laser marking:

  • Carbon migration laser marking
  • Annealing laser marking
  • Foaming laser marking
  • Coloration laser marking

Annealing Laser Marking

Key highlights

  • Utilized in carbon-containing components
  • Oxidation procedure can lead to an array of shades or colors
  • A slower and long procedure
  • Usually, employed in the medical field

This type of marking is an oxidation process of using heat to the material’s surface without using a high level of aggression. Annealing marking produces a concrete black spot that has a flawless result. However, the results in colors can also differ between yellow, green, and red; it depends on the temperature at the mark’s surface,

However, this is a slow approach because it relies on the temperature to convey carbon from metal to the surface and produce the markings. When the material is heated, you should let it cool slowly.

Popular metals utilized during this process takes account of the following:

  • Stainless steel
  • Iron
  • Titanium
  • Steel

What is more, this type of laser marking can also be utilized for various industries. But, it is popularly utilized in the medical field with uses like branding and internal tracking.

Carbon Migration 

Key Features 

  • Used to metals as well as metal alloys
  • Carbon goes to the surface due to the heating process
  • Makes dark markings
  • Heat is applied at a rapid pace

Carbon Migration refers to the heating of metal or metal alloy. This leads to the bonding with its carbon molecules, which brings out the carbon properties to the material’s surface. Once this takes place, it will lead to a dark laser marking, which can be black.

Carbon migration is fast compared to annealing as it offers a remarkable amount of heat to a smaller part of the metal in a fast time frame. This is only applicable to metals that have carbon properties like:

  • Stainless steel
  • Carbide
  • Steel
  • Titanium

Businesses that have utilized this process for beneficial applications take account of:

  • Jewelry engraving
  • Aerospace
  • Metalworking

To know more about this process, or inquire about the product use in your industry app, you can call or ask the expert.

Foaming Laser Marking 

Key Features

  • Material is softened, which make gas bubbles and foam
  • Commonly utilized on plastic materials rather than metals
  • Produces light markings
  • Results in moderately smooth marking

This laser marking method is utilized once the plastic is darker, and the required result is a light shade normally hold, white or tan. This modification in shade happens by making a molten burn on the surface, which is both controlled and contained. Once the surface of the material is melted, it makes foaming gas bubbles.

These bubbles alter the material’s light refraction properties. As a result, it makes foaming an enviable process once light effects, lettering, signs and symbols, and more are asked for a product or plastic surface.

As mentioned, this process is solely done on plastic, which makes it a precious asset in the plastic industry and sectors that use plastics on a regular basis in their operations.

Examples of uses which foam laser marking are able to utilize for takes account of:

  • Keyboard markings
  • Ink cartridges marking
  • Cosmetic packaging marking

To know more about this type of laser marking, make sure to call an expert as the machines they use can be a useful solution for the plastic operations.

Coloration Laser Marking

Key Highlights

  • Can be utilized for plastics and metals
  • The procedure for coloration differs; it all depends on the type of material
  • Makes contrast in both colored, as well as black and white materials
  • The results of the color are based on the process called oxidation

The course of adding color to a metal or plastic is done through particular heating parts of the surface based on the desired results. Changing the surface by controlling the frequency of the pulse, width, and more will lead to varying shades and colors. Therefore, it is vital to determine what your anticipated outcomes are ahead of time.

Once the coloration is used to plastic, it can be carried out so through a foaming process. Once polymers are manipulated in the plastic, it leads to a wavelength of shades that normally range from ultraviolet to infrared.

The coloration of metal happens with a process of oxidation that can be used to surfaces, which have been both untreated and treated up to that time. This gives you freedom with your coloration results, and can even be utilized for decorative applications.

Thus, lasers utilized for this type of laser marking often can work at an array of frequencies, power levels, speed, accuracies, and many others.

Industrial applications wherein this process are used account of:

  • Making decorative jewelry
  • Marking color on the cap of the bottle
  • Color coating ear tags for cattle

If you want to know more about metals and plastic coloration, you can ask the experts to determine if this process is ideal for your industry or business.

Which Method of Laser Marking Machine is Ideal for You?

Now that you already know the various kinds of laser marking used at this point in time, you must be able to differentiate or make a distinction which of the machines would be ideal for your industry needs. Always keep in mind to opt to laser makers who are versatile as well as keep on growing. Each of the products should be utilized in an array of materials in different industries.

In What Metals You Can Use This Method

Laser marking can engrave various kinds of metals. A laser can mark plastics, glass, ceramics, as well as silicon. Composites, rubber, graphite as well as LEDs might be marked in black or any other shade. It all depends on the material. Engraving precious gems like sapphires, rubies, as well as diamonds, also makes use of laser marking.


The fact is that the surface of the aluminum has high thermal conductivity. Therefore, a laser is able to mark this metal at a high temperature for a high-speed application, which makes high contrast marks. Whereas the fastest process is laser etching, laser engraving, on the other hand, is more resistant.

Aluminum 6061 and Aluminum 380 are the most widespread types of aluminum for laser marking. However, all types of aluminum can be marked. This takes account of pure and anodized aluminum, die-cast, and general-purpose.


Steel is considered one of the hardest materials which need longer marking time compared to other metals. On the other hand, the speed of engraving or marking can be increased by making white marks rather than black. It is likely to produce white marks which contrast with the bare shade of steel on most types.

For steel, laser etching is considered the best method for a fast and high-speed marking. However, you can also use laser engraving to maximize resistant marks. Laser annealing that makes marks under the surface provides the most excellent resistance to corrosion. Also, you can laser mark carbon steel, anodized steel, die steel, stainless steel as well as other steel alloys.

Steel parts include brake pads, suspension springs, billets, coils, tubes, pipes, sheet steel, and many others.

Stainless Steel

Most often, laser marking is utilized to mark stainless steel grades 316 and 304. However, it can be utilized to mark all grades. The chosen marking technique for this type of metal is laser annealing, as it protects the layer of chromium oxide on the surface. Thus, you get superior marks and avoid the occurrence of rust.

Laser marking equipment utilized for this metal does not require a high laser power. This is because annealing works at a lower temperature compared to other laser marking methods. Stainless steel part includes suspensions, exhausts, fuel tanks as well as other car parts.

Anodized Aluminum

In the process of laser marking on anodized aluminum, you are able to engrave the oxide layer, it all depends on what you want to be done. With it comes to laser marking on bare aluminum, first, it should undergo anodized treatment prior to marking. However, when marking an oxide layer, this is performed after anodizing treatment. In both conditions, the natural resistance of the parts to corrosion and abrasive wear is preserved.

The configuration of the laser machine will differ. It all depends on whether you are marking the oxide layer or the bare aluminum. Laser engraving equipment makes deep marks in the bare aluminum that makes sure that marks are easy to read after anodizing treatment. Laser etching equipment makes use of a fast marking process to engrave superior marks on the oxide layer.


Laser etching equipment can be configured to engrave magnesium alloys and magnesium. With laser etching, part of the metal is eliminated from the surface, making a black and white mark that is well contrasted. Magnesium parts include transmission cases, steering wheels, engine casings, engine blocks as well as other car parts, slugs, die castings, billets, slugs, bundles as well as magnesium ingots.


Lead alloys are types of metals that have low thermal conductivity. A lead material has a low temperature too, which makes it easy for the laser machine to persuade marks on a specific surface. Because of this, the laser machine utilized for etching this metal needs a low power laser. Examples of lead part include ingots, cored stick anodes as well as counterweights.


This metal is not just utilized due to its corrosion resistance feature but also because of its capability to be die-casted. Laser etching is the sole marking procedure that produces a high contrast on zinc. It can be utilized in spite of the zinc alloy. Examples of zinc part are jumbo blocks, ingot bundles, anode ingots, slabs, automotive parts, and die castings.

Can You Use Laser Marking in Non-Metallic Objects

Yes. Laser marking can be used in non-metallic objects like wood, acrylic, and so on. However, it all depends on the laser machine that needs to be used. There is specific laser marking machines that don’t have the capability to engrave or mark non-metallic objects. But, at this point, due to modern technology, all things are possible.

Science Behind the Method

“Laser” stands for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. A laser beam starts as an atom that is inspired or fueled to discharge light particles. These particles of light can be focused and directed to a laser marking surface. The energy which is generated is measure in nanometers (NM) or wavelengths. If the wavelength is higher, this signifies that the laser beam is very powerful.

Like for instance, a cold or green laser has 532NM wavelength provides a lower power of marking materials that are heat sensitive. On the other hand, a fiber laser works at 1070NM, providing considerably high power to etch harder or solid materials like metal and steel.

Opposed to non-permeant marking methods like labeling or printing, laser marking makes use of consumables and needs less maintenance. Some also provide reliable and fast customer assistance, which include free marking samples and fast response times, for utmost uptime as well as system productivity.

What Are Common Applications

To begin with, the initiation of the first machine in the year 1965, the uses were restricted to only for cutting. In due course, a bigger number of probable use-cases came to light after the progress of more procedures.

At this point, laser marking finds application in an extensive array of industries and businesses. One is labeling the product. 

Serial numbers, QR codes, dates, bar codes as well as part numbers all utilize lasers for marking. The same applies maintenance due dates to best before and expiry dates, as well as the logo of the company.

This process may also be utilized in making identification cards, credit cards, smart cards because it is fraud-proof. It is also utilized in manufacturing industries such as automotive, food, medical, electronics, aerospace, semiconductor, advertising, and a whole lot more.

What Equipment is Needed and How much Does it Cost

Different laser systems find application for laser marking. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and the choice depends on the use, cost, and quality needs and requirements. Basically, there are two kinds of lasers: gas lasers and solid-state lasers. Let us know some of the options available.

CO2 Laser Marking Machine

This is a laser marking tool that works with the use of CO2 gas in a conserved chamber as a source of the laser. An electric current drives energy into the gas that then generates radiation. The emitted radiation is intensified through the help of mirrors and focused on the metal for marking. This type of laser has a high-quality beam and reasonably goods efficiency.

CO2 laser marking tool is ideal for metal, wood, paper, glass, and many others. It is the first technique used in laser production. It is useful in date stamping, product recognition, as well as logos.

This can also use for non-metals such as laser garment engraving, labeling of soft drinks, medical packaging, leather engraving, plastic marking, and many others.

Fibre Laser Marking Machine

This is considered the most common setup for laser marking at this point. This marks effectively and more versatile. It creates very small marks quickly. Also, it boasts of less maintenance and there are no consumable needs and requirements.

The cost is less opposed to other tools or machines, without compromising the reliability. It can mark difficult materials like plastics, PCBs, gold, and nickel plating. It might also be used for sensitive metals or materials, as well as layers.

This machine is ideal for laser etching through engraving, annealing as well as plastic marking procedures. And has a remarkable lifespan.

One type of fiber laser machine is MOPA laser which is versatile because of the duration of the pulse can be changed. And the best thing about it is that it works with various types of steel or other metals.

Nd: YAG Laser Marking System

This system makes use of DPSS or Diode Pumped Solid State technology to propel a ruby or neodymium-doped YAG crystal that has a laser diode to emit laser rays. The wavelength is precisely ten times smaller than CO2 that stops it from being assimilated in an array of materials. As a result, it can just be applied with a restricted number of materials.

Not like fiber lasers, this type of machine requires costly diode pumps that are wearable and have a lifespan of 15 hours. However, compared to a fiber laser, YAG laser has a shorter life.

It can be applied to mark and engrave most metals. Once installed as a galvo system, it is faster compared to a CO2 laser. However, the time of setting up can be expensive and long. Also, it requires maintenance compared to other choices and doesn’t work on non-metallic materials like acrylic and wood. However, they do have superb beam quality and stability together with higher efficiency. This is the application to coated plastics, ceramics, and metals.

Final Thoughts

Lasers are ideal for doing an array of operations or tasks, which include laser marking. It’s the course of utilizing a focused laser beam to engrave or mark on an array of surfaces. At this point, many uses stem for this likelihood.

Laser marking is indeed versatile, aside from a common term utilized interchangeably to refer to diverse procedures like ablation, foaming, engraving, staining, coloring, and so forth. Picking the technique or method depends on the quality requirements and material as well.

Part identification is vital, regardless of the manufacturing field you are working with. In each manufacturing business, they imposed terms and regulations concerning identification in order to minimize error and, at the same time, make sure the safety of the part.

I hope that this article answered a lot of questions that you might have. You can check other articles about CNC machining and welding on our website.

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