Laser Etching Advice for Permanent Device Marking

Mark Meer

Trusted Information Resource
#1
Does anyone have experience with (affordable) in-house laser etchers as a means of permanently marking devices off the production line (e.g. with a date and lot number)? In particular onto plastic (polycarbonate)?

Perhaps there recommended brands? ...or ones to avoid?

...or even pros/cons of laser-etching for this purpose? Are there better alternatives?
 
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PaulJSmith

#2
Re: Laser etching advice for permanent device markings

When I worked in the pipe organ industry, we laser etched all of the controls (stop knobs, stop keys, tilting tabs, combination action buttons, etc.) and name plates we put on our instruments. This used to be done with a mechanical etcher, but we started using a laser in the early 2000s. Most of the materials were either plastics or wood. It worked great for us. Once the templates were set up, operation was a breeze. Accuracy was way better than the older methods, and there was a considerable savings of time for those now automated operations. We even did engraving work for other organ builders.

As for make / model ... I can't remember, and all of that equipment was sold at auction when the company folded up a few years ago.
 

Mark Meer

Trusted Information Resource
#3
Re: Laser etching advice for permanent device markings

We had the opportunity to try out a laser etcher for an afternoon.

We got some good results on wood, but on the plastics either:
a) left a noticeable "burn" residue
b) etches were either too deep or too thick (making the text illegible)

We'd experimented with a bunch of settings, but couldn't get it to work on the plastics.

Perhaps it was the particular equipment (some laser-etchers are not suited for plastic?). ..or just us not having enough experience with the equipment and its setup.
 

somashekar

Staff member
Super Moderator
#4
Re: Laser etching advice for permanent device markings

This has been our preferred marking method on plastic connector body from years successfully for our major OEM in medical device accessories contract manufacturing business.
We use VERSA LASER
It is again a matter of marking process validation for the given type of material.
 

AgnieszkaSz

Involved In Discussions
#5
I had experience with permanent marking on connectors in cable harnesses - there was a customer requirement for some harnesses (truck body) that marking must be made either by laser ot hot stamping. Laser is ideal for flat surfaces, (marking is visible on almost any color - except for white); the problem begins when you have cylindrical surface to mark - marking becomes illegible. In such case hot stamping - particularly done by older gizmos, where you can place partcular "letters" on different heights - is better. But hot stamping brings a risk of burning through if you operate on thin-walled details.
I don't remeber the brand names, unfortunately.
 

Statistical Steven

Statistician
Staff member
Super Moderator
#6
Re: Laser etching advice for permanent device markings

Just a heads up...the coloring in the plastic makes a difference. Something you might have to play with....just from working with a company that is integrating laser edging....running DOEs to find settings for each color...PITA :)


We had the opportunity to try out a laser etcher for an afternoon.

We got some good results on wood, but on the plastics either:
a) left a noticeable "burn" residue
b) etches were either too deep or too thick (making the text illegible)

We'd experimented with a bunch of settings, but couldn't get it to work on the plastics.

Perhaps it was the particular equipment (some laser-etchers are not suited for plastic?). ..or just us not having enough experience with the equipment and its setup.
 
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