Materials Guide

An overview of laser engraving, laser marking and laser cutting application possibilities.

ThinkLaser work with a range of FTSE 100, Universities, and other large and exciting organisations to enable them to make best use of the benefits of laser technology.

If you would like to see how the ThinkLaser engineers and consultants can help your organisation, please get in touch with us through our enquiry form.

Below, we look at the benefits of laser technology for manufacturing, and provide an overview of laser engraving, laser marking and laser cutting application possibilities.

 

Benefits of Laser Marking

Laser marking based technology is now a widely accepted addition to those more traditional tools used for component marking. The benefits the laser marking application process provides can be an important addition to your production environment.

 

  • No clamping or retaining during the laser marking or engraving process
  • No impact force to the part during the marking process
  • No chemicals being used, therefore environmentally friendly
  • Placement accuracy and quality is repeatable and sustainable

 

Laser engraving and cutting flatbed technology is now widely used in many non-industrial environments.  The large area process format, combined with the wide range of  material processing capability, makes it an ideal flexible, low cost machine for market sectors such as education, fashion, sign making and model making.

The following list identifies common materials and identifies if they can be processed using lasers and if so which are the most appropriate.

 

 

 

Material Category Lightwriter Marking systems M Series Marking System Lightblade Product range
Fiber CO2 Nd:YAG CO2 Engraving Cutting
Earthenware
Ceramics no yes no yes yes no
Terracotta no yes no yes yes no
Fabrics
Cotton no yes no yes yes yes
Denim no yes no yes yes yes
Felt no yes no yes yes yes
Linen no yes no yes yes yes
Nylon no yes no yes yes yes
Polyester no yes no yes yes yes
Leather
Leather Normal no yes no yes yes yes
Suede no yes no yes yes yes
Synthetic Leather no yes no yes yes yes
Silk no yes no yes yes yes
Chiffon no yes no yes yes yes
Foam
High Density no yes no yes yes yes
Low Density no

!

no

!

!

yes
Glass
Plain and Crystal no yes no yes yes no
Mirror yes yes yes yes yes no
Metals
Aluminium
Plain yes no yes no no no
Anodised yes yes yes yes yes no
Hard yes yes yes yes yes no
Black Enamelled Brass yes no yes no no no
Brass yes no yes no no no
Copper yes no yes no no no
Cast Iron yes no yes no no no
Gold yes no yes no no no
Hastelloy yes no yes no no no
Molybdenum yes no yes no no no
Platinum yes no yes no no no
Silver yes no yes no no no
Steel yes no yes no no no
Blackened yes no yes no no no
Cobolt Chrome yes no yes no no no
Mild yes no yes no no no
Stainless yes no yes no no no
Tool yes no yes no no no
Tin yes no yes no no no
Titanium yes no yes no no no
Tungsten yes no yes no no no
Zinc yes no yes no no no
Zirconium yes no yes no no no
Plastics
ABS yes yes yes yes yes yes
Acrylics no yes no yes yes yes
Coloured no yes no yes yes yes
Fluorescent no yes no yes yes yes
Frosted no yes no yes yes yes
Mirror yes no yes no no no
Painted for Day Night Parts yes yes yes yes yes yes
Bakelite yes yes yes yes yes yes
Clear PETG no yes no yes yes yes
Mylar no yes no yes yes yes
Nylon yes yes yes yes yes yes
Peek yes yes yes yes yes yes
Polycarbonate yes yes yes yes yes yes
Polypropylene no yes no yes yes yes
Styrene no yes no yes yes yes
Romark Laminates no yes no yes yes yes
Stone
Marble no yes no yes yes no
Slate no yes no yes yes no
Stone no yes no yes yes no
Wood
no yes no yes yes yes
Cork Sheet no yes no yes yes yes
MDF no yes no yes yes yes
MDF Veneers no yes no yes yes yes
Obeche no yes no yes yes yes
Plywood no yes no yes yes yes
Spuce no yes no yes yes yes
Walnut no yes no yes yes yes
Others
3M Laser Receptive Label Laminates no yes no yes yes yes
Card no yes no yes yes yes
Ceramic High Alumina yes no yes no no no
Corrugated Cardboard yes no yes no no no
Eggshell yes no yes no yes yes
Paper

!

yes

!

yes yes yes
Silicon Rubber yes yes yes yes no no
Sand yes no yes no no no

 

! – This indicates that the materials could be marked using this type of laser but that there are issues.

For example, low density foam has a tendency to melt when too much energy is applied.  The surface and density can be inconsistent and therefore difficult to control.

The guidance provided is just that. We have learnt from years of  laser application on a wide range of materials that there are always exceptions to the rules. We recommend that you have your materials tested so that you can determine if the results meet expectations. We must stress the importance of sample testing.


 

Examples of bending the rules:

 

Black marking on silverCermark – Thermark – Marksolid

Provides a permanent chemical bond with the base material when the laser energy is absorbed.  This formula allows you to use a wavelength of laser light not normally associated with a particular material type (for example you could use a CO2 laser to process Stainless Steel, a match that would not normally work). The material can also be used to enhance the process (for example you can use any of these to achieve a black or white mark onto Glass or simply use it to achieve a dark black mark on steels and aluminium). There are additional costs involved with using the process (applying the material and washing off residue at the end of the process) but it does provide process options.

 

Plasticspicture of laser marked plastic

Can be modified using laser absorbent additives. Normally mixed as part of the master batch, the additive creates an absorption barrier to materials that traditionally would have translucent properties improving marking results.