What is laser marking on plastic extrusion?
What is laser marking on plastic extrusion?
Extrusion is a technology for producing products by forcing a viscous melt of a material or a thick paste through a forming hole. Usually used in the molding of polymers (rubber compounds, plastics).
Laser Marking Machine
The technology of laser marking of plastic involves the use of a laser beam to discolor the surface of a plastic material. The surface fades to black or dark gray, depending on the selected graphics and text. Marking is done by moving a laser beam across the surface of a plastic material during the bleaching process, which creates high-contrast lettering.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the key benefits of using laser marking systems, plastics, and popular marking methods used in the industry.
High marking speed
Laser marking is one of the fastest marking methods on the market. This method is efficient and economical. Depending on the structure and dimensions of the materials, different laser emitters (gas, fiber) and types of lasers (flatbed, galvo) can be used to achieve the most efficient and fast results.
What materials can be laser processed?
Laser Marking on Different Materials
- Metals: stainless steel, aluminum, gold, silver, titanium, bronze, platinum, or copper
- Plastics: ABS, polycarbonate, polyamide, PMMA.
- Film and packaging
- Multilayer plastics (laminates)
Depending on the material, different types of laser emitters are used (fiber or gas CO₂ lasers)
Various laser marking processes
During annealing, the material is heated under the action of a laser beam, and a chemical reaction occurs, which colors the material. This effect occurs due to a structural change in the surface material. The resulting color depends on the heating temperature.
Thus, by changing the parameters of laser radiation, it is possible to obtain light or dark shades. The disadvantage of this technique is that if the product is exposed to high temperatures, the marking may come off.
In laser engraving, the material to be processed is melted by a laser and then evaporated. The laser beam removes the top layer of material. In this case, the radiation intensity must exceed a certain limit value, the so-called threshold intensity.
The threshold intensity for materials with high electrical conductivity reaches a large value. The deepening of the conical shape, formed as a result of such processing, is called engraving. Laser engraving is considered the fastest form of laser processing. Learn more about laser engraving.
In ablation, the laser beam removes the surface layer that has been applied to the base material. Due to the differences in color between the surface and base material, a contrast appears. Since laser radiation is very well absorbed in these layers, even a low laser power is sufficient to obtain high-contrast images.
As a rule, anodized aluminium, lacquered metal, films, and multilayer plastics are marked by ablation. When processing lacquered plastic, it is possible to create day/night images by removing the colored coating.
Methods for marking plastic extrusion
You can apply marking on plastic products using various types of equipment:
- Inkjet printers;
- Contact roller encoders;
- Laser markers.
Technology for marking plastic extrusion
In the plastics extrusion process, marking equipment is an additional technological unit, but no less important than the calibrator, cooling baths, and equipment for drawing, cutting, and winding. Smeared, illegible, or incorrect labels will not only lead to customer dissatisfaction but will also have a negative impact on the entire production.
Plastic extrusion manufacturers face many challenges. Since extrusion plants are operated all year round, both at extremely high temperatures and in quite cold conditions, this leads to constant corrections or even to the discarding of finished batches of plastic products.
If labeling equipment is not up-to-date or cannot withstand the harsh conditions of the plastic extrusion shop, the shipping process of finished products will be slowed down, errors will increase.
Reliable labeling of plastics is essential to ensure there are no stops on the production line. Industrial printers are not capable of operating in the harsh environment of a plastics extrusion shop where dust is present all year round in addition to thermal influences that can cause encoder failure.
The construction and manufacturing industries are rapidly developing, so it is necessary to maintain high-line performance by introducing innovative equipment.
Benefits of Laser Marking Plastic
The advantages of modern laser markers are that do not have contact roller encoders and inkjet markers.
Because roller encoders and other contact printers use analog technology, the label cannot contain variable data and must be changed manually. For example, changing the company name, product serial number, or barcode.
Thanks to the simple interface of the markers, changing the image, or text or applying any variable information to uniquely identify the product is a simple and fast operation that does not even require stopping the line.
Laser equipment can apply various characters, graphics, and barcodes to plastic. This allows you to meet the needs of customers and guarantees the durability and reliability of the applied image. Laser marking provides character tracing with small geometric fonts and patterns.
Also, with the help of laser markers, you can process various types of plastic:
Direct marking on plastic does not require the cost of consumables: inks, chemicals, pastes, or sprays.
Application of various information (serial numbers, code numbers, text information) is carried out in a very short time. Different types of marking can be done without the need for readjustment or tool change on the equipment.
Laser marking of plastic involves the use of a laser beam to discolor the surface of a plastic material which creates high-contrast lettering. It is one of the fastest marking processes and can be permanent. Marking can be essential for certain projects. Prolean can provide professional laser marking for your parts. Feel free to drop in If you need any CNC Machining service or Sheet metal service.
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