What is laser marking?
This is the process of using a laser beam to leave a permanent mark on the surface of a material. The laser beam used heats up the surface layer of said material, which after oxidising, will permanently change colour. This mark is often black but can be coloured too. It can be used to mark various materials.
How is it different to laser engraving?
While both are similar in nature, and sometimes the terms are even used synonymously, they do have an important difference that isn’t always highlighted. Laser marking is the leaving of a permanent mark only on a material’s surface. Laser engraving, on the other hand, is the leaving of a permanent engraving in the material.
While laser marking oxidises the surface of the material that it is working with, engraving vaporises the area that it is targeting, permanently removing part of the material to leave the engraving. This engraving will, therefore, have a noticeable depth; a depth which can be controlled depending on how you use the laser beam. Read our laser engraving frequently asked questions with answers here.
Will the process damage my material?
No, but it will permanently change it. One of the biggest benefits of using a laser, however, is the fact that it will only change the area that it is working with as it is a non-contact process and very precise too. This allows you to leave a mark in only the area you target, and not affect the area surrounding it.
Alongside this, no material is actually removed during the process. Instead, it simply changes colour through heat and oxidisation.
What is annealing?
Annealing is a type of marking, used only for metals. Through the oxidisation process, the mark that is left will be of colour, rather than black. The resulting colour will change depending on the level of heat that has been applied.
What is colour marking?
Similar to annealing (and sometimes called staining), this process will leave a coloured mark on a material. The difference here is that it will be different colour shades.
What is removing?
The removing process will leave a permanent engraving in a material, and so for that reason it is perhaps more closely aligned to laser engraving, but we thought it would be worth touching on here too.
Here, an engraving is made into the top coating of a substrate. This will leave a noticeable contrast between the engraving and the remaining top coat that surrounds this engraving.
What is foaming?
With foaming, gas bubbles are produced following the interaction of the laser with the material. These gas bubbles reflect light, and so the marked area that remains will be lighter than the surrounding areas which haven’t been targeted.