Laser Engraving in the Automotive Industry

Laser engraving is an efficient, safe and reliable process that is used in many industries around the world. It is especially prevalent in industries that are fast-paced, with many different parts needing to be processed quickly and efficiently. The automotive sector is just one example of this.

As the demand in this sector has increased, so too has the need for processes that can match these demands. It is therefore unsurprising to find that laser engraving has become such a core component of this sector. We’ve explained more on this below.

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The automotive industry is a heavy user of engraving

How important is the automotive industry?

The automotive industry first started in the 1890s, and since then has grown from strength to strength. It is now one of the most important industries in the world, with over 70 million automobiles manufactured each year. It is also estimated that around 1.015 billion automobiles currently exist around the globe!

While most of us are familiar with the industry through the purchasing and driving of these automobiles, there is a huge amount of activity conducted behind the scenes with the research, design and development of these vehicles.

And this behind the scenes activity continues to develop at a rapid pace, bringing to the market newer innovations and automobiles. Electric cars are probably the best example of this in the modern age, made most famous by Tesla. And, more recently, we have self-driven cars, likely to be operating on the roads by 2021.

Even without these newer inventions, the production of standard automobiles has increased. So, not only do we have an industry that is finding new ways to operate, but also one that is operating at a faster pace too. None of this would be possible without reliable, efficient and cost-effective processes making mass production happen.

For this reason, lasers, and more recently fiber lasers, have quickly become a core part of this sector, used in multiple ways within the manufacturing process. Laser engraving is just one of these ways, and we’ve looked at this in more specific detail below.

How is laser engraving used within this sector?

The uses in this industry are much the same as the way that it is used in the aerospace industry. Although the products that are being created are on a smaller scale, they are still made up of several materials and comprised of thousands of different parts. In fact, a car is manufactured from roughly 30,000 different parts.

The process is used in more ways than one in this sector

The process is used in more ways than one in this sector

And, it’s likely that each of these parts may need to be worked with in more ways than one. Laser marking is a closely related process and often parts will need both forms of laser processing carried out on them. Some automobile components need markings at surface level, which is where marking is used, but often these markings need to go deeper. In this instance, engraving with lasers is the preferred method.

Some of the ways that you’ll find this process being used:

  • Engraving traceability codes onto venting valves used in fuel tank systems
  • Engraving Vehicle Identity Numbers (VIN) into relevant parts, ensuring they are permanent, visible marks
  • Creating component identification codes on moulded parts
  • Engraving plastic components with markings that won’t be removed by solvents
  • Engravings on parts that have been oiled
  • Some items that are incredibly small, such as ball bearings will need to have clear engravings on them too

Automotive also has some overlap with the electronics and semiconductor sectors given the rise of the new electric car.

Where SPI Lasers can help

Our pulsed fiber laser is one of the most efficient on the market when it comes to laser engraving. Able to complete the process quickly, smoothly and cost-effectively, it provides users with an environmentally-friendly solution to creating engravings that stand the test of time.

If you would like to find out more about how laser engraving works, have any questions or maybe want to discuss our range of products, or engraving applications then we would be more than happy to help. Please find a list of our contact details here, where one of the team will be happy to assist you.


Image credits: Torsten Dettlaff and Engin_Akyurt


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