Laser marking technology is a convenient method of embedding designs, so it continues to be mass-produced today. You may be wondering about how these various laser marking machines work. You may be thinking, “They must be using different kinds of lasers to perform their marking!” Yes, you are technically correct. There are the solid-state continuous wave, carbon dioxide, Nd: YAG, Nd: YVO4 (vanadate), and fiber lasers available in the present.
Getting a Laser Marking Tool
Laser marking tools are supposedly available near your local area. Also, you may shop online if you are unable to find one. If you are looking for a Nd: YAG or a vanadate laser marking machine, then check YAG Laser Coding Machines & Engraving Systems • Nd:YAG & YV04 as they offer them.
Solid-State Continuous Wave Lasers
Solid-state continuous wave lasers provide a steady output over long time periods compared to pulsed lasers. Unfortunately, solid-state continuous wave lasers are no longer commonly used for marking. The main reason for the lack of use is that these lasers are not usable on metals. You should opt for other types of lasers instead.
Carbon Dioxide Lasers
Carbon dioxide, or CO2, lasers work by a gas medium that is cooled. These are the highest-powered continuous wave lasers available, even in the present. Furthermore, the CO2 lasers are ideal for packaging and for marking organic materials such as wood and leather. Also, these are best for applications with less contrast and larger size than solid-state lasers. Overall, you would want the CO2 laser’s role for marking organic material, because it is not compatible with metals.
Nd: YAG Lasers
25 years ago, the Nd: YAG laser technology came to be. In the present, these lasers are diode-pumped, which means that they are sturdy with decent MTBF, or mean time before failure. The main advantage of the Nd: YAG laser comes from its beam quality, that has a smaller spot size. Along with its short pulses, the small spot size produces a high peak power that benefits deep engraving. Lastly, you will get high-quality, small characters and designs from the Nd: YAG laser’s markings.
Nd: YVO4 Lasers
The Nd: YVO4 or vanadate lasers are capable of emitting three different wavelengths, namely 355 nm (blue), 532 nm (green), and 1064 nm. Also, vanadate lasers are diode-pumped and have good beam quality with pulse-to-pulse stability. All of these characteristics make it suitable for ablation markings as well as heat-affected zone (HAZ) applications. Furthermore, some vanadate laser markets specialize in day/night marking, or the removal of top coating to give light for backlight buttons. Overall, you will find vanadate lasers useful for coloring as well as in day/night marking.
The fiber laser is capable of annealing stainless steel thanks to its long pulse width and larger spot size, which has more heat output that can draw carbon to the surface. However, these lasers have lower beam quality compared to Nd: YAG or vanadate lasers, mainly due to their lower peak power. Furthermore, only a few fiber-laser manufacturers sell the laser for marking system use. You may as well go for the other types of lasers.
Comparing the Laser Types
Nd: YAG lasers, vanadate lasers, and fiber lasers have almost the same consumables and operating costs. So one can choose the preferred of the three as a laser source. As for CO2 lasers, they are mostly used for organic materials, while Nd: YAG, vanadate, and fiber lasers are for metals. Fiber lasers and solid-state continuous wave lasers are inferior and rarely used. Between Nd: YAG and vanadate lasers, the former has a better overall marking capacity and quality, while the latter has its specializations.
The various laser types come with their characteristics and applications. If you want to choose a laser technology, you may opt for CO2 lasers for organic materials and Nd: YAG or vanadate lasers for metals. Lastly, the remaining two types are not readily available.