The main difference between these techniques is the depth of the marking. As the depth of a laser etched mark increases, it is generally considered to be engraved first and then deep engraved.
The method you choose depends on the type of markup you want to get. For example, some post-processing applications, such as galvanizing, require greater marking depths to ensure marking quality and readability. Certain industries also require specific marking depths to meet regulatory standards.
Laser Etching: 0.0001" depth
Laser Engraving: 0.0001 - 0.005 inches deep
Deep laser engraving > 0.005" depth
How does laser etching and engraving work?
To create permanent marks, the laser etching and engraving process starts with a concentrated beam of light energy.
The laser beam is aimed at a small area of material, called the focal point.
The heat generated by the light energy allows the laser machine to alter the surface of the material, while the focus ensures that it affects only a specific part of the surface.
The result is a smooth, high-contrast, long-lasting mark that can be human-readable (serial number) or machine-readable (barcode), etched or engraved into the surface of the part.
During the laser etching process, this mark will reach a depth of approximately 0.0001 inches. During the laser engraving process, the marking depth is typically up to 0.005 inches.
A subset of this process, called deep laser engraving, features marks greater than 0.005 inches deep. These markers are extremely durable and beneficial for industries where markers need to withstand harsh conditions.
What types of laser engraving techniques can make these marks?
Besides the marking process, another key factor in obtaining the desired final mark is the laser engraving technology. While many variables will affect your choice of laser engraver, here are some common techniques used for laser etching and engraving:
Fiber Laser Marking Machine
Mark a variety of materials, including steel, titanium, aluminum, copper, ceramics, and some plastics.
CO2 Laser Marking Machine
Suitable for wood, glass, rubber, plastic, cardboard and product packaging.
Diode pumped (Tiburon) laser marking machine
Ultrashort pulses provide sharper markings for lighter etching applications.
Green Laser Marking Machine
Heat-sensitive materials have shorter wavelengths, including plastics, glass, and ceramics.
UV laser marking machine
Quick, clean and hygienic marking minimizes thermal damage.
LightWriter Laser Marking Workstation
Simple, economical desktop laser engraver.