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.
Einstein first described the relationship between the excited and spontaneous radiation of atoms in 1916.
In 1958, the American scientists Charles Towns and Arthur Shallow proposed the “laser principle”.
On May 16, 1960, scientists from Hughes Laboratories in California, USA, announced that the first human laser beam had been obtained.
In 1960, Soviet scientist Nikolai Basov invented the semiconductor laser.
In the late 1980s, semiconductor technology made possible more efficient and durable semiconductor laser diodes.
In the 1990s, high-power laser excitation principles were realized, such as sheet lasers and fiber lasers.
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.
What are the advantages of laser engraving?
Before examining these applications, we thought it would be worth explaining some of the advantages of engraving with lasers. 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 engraving and 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 jet, makes it a much safer process for workers. And harmful waste isn’t left behind either, which is how it offers environmental benefits.
By being able to work to tiny measurements too and leave behind engravings that are clear and highly legible, it’s not surprising that engraving with lasers has quickly replaced more traditional methods.
What are some examples of 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 EM-Smart Lasers, please read the section below.
Aesthetic or personalized applications
It’s a popular process for aesthetic, personal reasons. One of the most common uses for this is within the jewelry 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 personalize 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.
Engraving with lasers is one such process. It leaves a high-quality finish while removing any debris and oxides from the surface; contaminants that could damage the material.
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.
This is because not only does it tend to reflect back what is being directed at it, but lasers rely on heat to vaporize 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.