Laser Engraving Applications

As its name may suggest, this process is the engraving of a material using a laser beam. The engraving of items isn’t a new concept, but the way that it has been achieved has changed dramatically in recent years.

Now, lasers are the most heavily relied on form of engraving, given the numerous benefits that they offer to their users. This has resulted in them being used for applications across dozens of industries around the world, including the aerospace, automotive and electronics sectors. In the article below, we have highlighted just some of these many uses.

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Laser engraving of glass – showing a complex sculpture of a caffeine module

The advantages of laser engraving

Before examining these applications, we thought it would be worth explaining some of the advantages of laser engraving. This will help you understand just why it is such a versatile and adaptable process.

First and foremost, the process is able to work with a range of materials and complete engravings at a range of depths too. Some setups are even able to complete more than one process, such as both laser engraving and laser marking. This ability to adapt between processes, materials and depths is clearly a huge benefit.

Many industries today use multiple materials, such as several metals, plastics and glass, and having one system that can complete more than one task is a big advantage. While offering this level of efficiency, it takes nothing away in terms of quality either. As it is a non-contact process, the laser will only affect the area of the material that it is being aimed at. This means that it won’t damage any material it is working with.

It is also a highly safe and environmentally-friendly process. By removing the need for many of the harmful chemicals found in other similar processes, such as ink jetting, it makes it a much safer process for workers. And harmful waste isn’t left behind either, which is how it offers environmental benefits.

 

Laser engraving doesn’t use harmful chemicals, unlike other processes

Laser engraving doesn’t use harmful chemicals, unlike other processes

 

By being able to work to tiny measurements too and leave behind engravings that are clear and highly legible, it’s not surprising that laser engraving has quickly replaced more traditional methods.

Laser engraving applications

There are many applications that can be completed thanks to this process. For the purposes of this article we will be talking generally about laser engraving, but many of the applications we will discuss have been completed using a fiber laser. To learn more about fiber lasers, which we manufacture here at SPI Lasers, please read the section below.

Aesthetic or personalised applications

It’s a popular process for aesthetic, personal reasons. One of the most common uses for this is within the jewellery industry, where it is frequently used to leave high-quality, permanent engravings in personal items.

But, there are dozens of places you’ll find engravings too. Perhaps items such as plaques, trophies or medals. As the process can leave an incredibly legible mark that will stand the test of time, it’s often the go-to choice for people looking to personalise their gear.

Engraving stainless steel

Steel is one of the most popular and widely used metals in the industrial world. It is a cheap metal, and yet highly strong, so it’s an obvious choice for many industries. Therefore, it goes without saying that processes are needed which are more than capable of working with this metal.

Laser engraving is one such process. It leaves a high-quality finish while removing any debris and oxides from the surface; contaminants which could damage the material.

Brass engraving

Brass is another popular metal that many industries around the world use, and yet it is one that has quite different properties to that of steel. It has a low melting point and a high level of thermal conductivity. This, alongside the fact that it is highly reflective, can make it more challenging to work with.

Brass is one material that the process is used with

Brass is one material that the process is used with

This is because not only does it tend to reflect back what is being directed at it, but lasers rely on heat to vaporise the surface they are working with, so a high thermal conductivity can pose a problem.

But, using newer lasers, particularly fiber lasers, these problems can be avoided, leaving high quality results.

Working with pewter

Another metal that laser engraving is regularly used with is pewter. Given its low melting point, it too can be a difficult metal to work with. To demonstrate the ability of our fiber lasers at not only laser engraving, but also cutting and marking, we crafted our very own SPI tankard pendent. Take a look at that here.

Working with ceramic

It’s not just metals that engraving is great for working with, but plenty of other materials too. One such example is ceramic. This is a material that is widely used in the semi-conductor industry, so is therefore useful for electronics too.

Many of these semi-conductors are made using ceramic, and laser engraving helps to isolate areas for bright metal plating on the ceramic, allowing for currents of electricity to pass through.

Plastic and glass engraving

Other non-metal materials that laser engraving is great for working with are plastics and glass. These are materials that you will often find being used alongside metals, and so many industries have benefited hugely from having a process capable of working with them all.

You’ll find that there is a heavy use of this process on plastics and glass within the medical sector.

Deep and light engraving

The depth of the engraving can be changed, offering its users a great number of ways to utilise the process. For example, here we engrave stainless steel to a depth of 0.2mm, while here we completed the process to a depth of 1.5mm.

Engravings can go to a great depth, as we have demonstrated here

Removing Thermal Barrier Coats (TBCs) from alloys

Another handy use for laser engraving is the removal of TBCs from super alloys. The challenge with this application is that the laser must be able to remove the thick layer of TBC while not damaging the material beneath in any way. Fiber lasers are great for achieving this.

How SPI can help

As you can see from the above, laser engraving is an incredibly important process. There are several lasers which are able to complete this method, with fiber lasers being the newest and most innovative type to grace the market.

Engravings can go to a great depth, as we have demonstrated here

Engravings can go to a great depth, as we have demonstrated here

That’s why we solely manufacture fiber lasers here at SPI. Coupled with the benefits already offered by laser engraving that you read in the first section, fiber lasers offer additional efficiency and cost-effectiveness with longer service lives and no maintenance.

Our redENERGY® G4 Pulsed Fiber Laser is the perfect choice for completing this process, offering a wealth of power ranges to its user. With the latest technology and a range of benefits, you need look no further for your engraving needs! For further information, also read our laser engraving FAQs page.

Looking to get in contact?

As well as having the fiber lasers more than capable of completing the job, we also have a great deal of knowledge on laser engraving too, which we are more than happy to share. If you want to know more about how the process works, or want to enquire about our products, please get in touch with is here.

 

Image credits: Wikipedia, Wikipedia and Hermann

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