plating, anodizing, & finishing Q&As since 1989
Improving Laser Etch Contrast?
I have been developing a stainless steel consumer product for kitchen use that uses laser etched markings. Because of the shape and construction, laser marking is unfortunately the ONLY option available to us. The stainless surface is brushed albeit inconsistently due to geometric constraints. We have found that the laser markings are somewhat hard to read due to inconsistent, and insufficient contrast of the markings (ie, not dark enough). We have tried slowing the laser down, but since we have fairly elaborate markings, we are already at a 2 minute cycle time per item, so it's not really practical for us to keep increasing the cycle time. I've asked for the make, model, and setup on the machine we're using, will post when available.
So.. are there alternative ways to make laser etchings darker?
-can we prime the surface before?
-are there reactive chemicals that can work with the laser?
-is there a post-application?
-any guru you can refer me to? I'm not above bringing in a consultant.
design engineer - consumer products - New York, New York
I was able to get the machine info:
the entire site is in Chinese, so here are the general settings/specs I can translate from the site:
Name: TECH-H LASER MARKER
OUTPUT = 50W
LASER MARKING AREA = 200MMX200MM
FASTEST LASER MARKING SPEED = 7000MM/S
MINIMUM DISTANCE/HEIGHT FROM LASER LENS TO THE LASER SURFACE = 299MM
MINIMUM LINE THICKNESS TO BE LASERED = 0.05MM
MINIMUM SIZE OF THE LASER MARK = 0.2MM
- New York, New York
What kind of laser is it? Iuse a diode laser (RMI SymbolWriter) almost daily for work, much of which is on stainless steel. On the machine I use there are settings that control the nature of the mark (power, passes, pulses, speed, frequency, step size). I have found when trying to make a dark mark that step size and frequency decrease have provided the darkest marks, however decreasing step size increases the time to mark by a pretty substantial amount. Try exploring your laser's properties by lasering a grid with the settings adjusted and see what darker marks take little time. Hope this helped!
- Lake Stevens, Washington, USA
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