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Laser marking plastic | TRUMPF
TRUMPF laser marking on plastic
TRUMPF laser marking on plastic

Laser marking plastic

Lasers mark plastic components not only permanently and flexibly, but also very environmentally and material friendly. This is due to the fact that - compared to conventional marking procedures - no templates or consumables such as ink are required. Laser markings on plastic surfaces are always smudge and abrasion resistant. The laser marking of plastics basically involves three separate processes: changes in color, alterations to surfaces and the ablation of layers.>

Process for the laser marking of plastic parts

The key to laser marking plastics is achieving sufficient absorption of the laser beam into the material. In metals, most of the beam is reflected, while in plastics, transmission, diffuse reflection, and absorption are more important. The low heat conductivity in plastics means low energy losses during marking. Plastics can therefore be marked much faster than metals. Absorption by the macromolecular structure of plastics is usually in the ultraviolet and far infrared range. In additives such as carbon black or dyes, absorption occurs at varying wavelength spectrums. Since lasers with different wavelengths are available, the wavelength can be optimized for the respective material.

Which plastics can be laser marked?

TRUMPF marking lasers: overview of markable plastics

Short-pulse lasers achieve good results with a range of marking types depending on the plastic, the laser wavelength and additives used. To achieve high legibility and marking quality, it is recommended to mix laser-sensitive additives into some industrial plastics. The properties of the plastics remain largely unaffected.

 

Laser wavelength plays an important role in the marking of plastics, depending on the application. Using frequency-doubled (532 nm, green) or tripled (355 nm, UV) solid-state lasers extends the range of plastics that are easy to mark. These lasers often achieve better results than standard systems with wavelengths of 1,064 or 1,030 nm.

What is important when marking plastics?

Plastics are materials that pose several challenges to many marking systems. The main objective of marking systems is the long-term legibility of markings, but ink, for example, has inherent limitations. Moreover, not all plastics are the same. The varying properties and additives in plastics often require individualized marking solutions. Lasers are much more flexible in coping with such challenges, tolerating even minor surface soiling, and able to begin marking immediately without having to first create templates, which is required, for example, by screen and pad printing processes.

Types of laser marking for plastics:

Foaming: process diagram

TRUMPF marking laser application foaming scheme

In foaming, markings appear raised

How can flame-retardant or flame-resistant plastics be laser marked?

TRUMPF marking laser application in flame-retardant plastics

Especially when processing flame-retardant plastics, it is important that the material and wavelength are optimally matched to each other. Here, the use of a UV laser is recommended. Dark gray markings can then be made on light materials. Discoloration is caused by the break-up of chemical compounds. As the material does not burn or carbonize, it is referred to as "cold marking" with high surface qualities.

Color change: process diagram

TRUMPF application marking laser annealing

The laser dose alters selected molecules and thus brings about a change in color.

Marking plastic with lasers: your advantages

Flexible

Lasers can be precisely adjusted to the respective plastic using a range of optional wavelengths, powers, and parameters.

Gentle

Cold and non-contact laser marking means that the component surface remains virtually unaffected.

High quality

The laser achieves even the most intricate markings which are high-contrast, clean, and without any smudges.

Durable

Laser inscriptions on plastics neither fade nor rub off so remain perfectly legible even after years.

Application examples of plastic marking

TRUMPF laser marking on plastic ID card

ID labeling

Color changing and foaming enable the flexible creation of highly legible, durable, and high-contrast labels and images, e.g. ID cards.

TRUMPF laser marking on medical plastic tube

Medical plastic tubes

For example, precision scales can be applied to plastic products used in medical technology. Even after multiple cleaning cycles, these scales remain clearly legible and are highly resistant to temperature and environmental factors.

TRUMPF laser marking on plastic automotive components

Product identification

The flexible laser tool applies high-contrast and permanently legible, high-resolution product markings even in difficult to access areas.

TRUMPF laser marking on plastic

Salt dispenser

The laser is used to create long-lasting, fine, and high-contrast color changes on a multitude of everyday objects made of plastic.

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Find out now about the most suitable solution to meet your needs for the laser marking of plastics.

UV marking lasers, fiber lasers and solid-state lasers in the infrared wavelength range are ideally suited as beam sources for laser marking plastics.

Manual: Laser marking in brief

Discover the comprehensive manual "Laser marking in brief" and find out about the technical background of the processes and laser systems as well as a guideline on practical marking. Download it here.

Technology flyer: BrightLine Weld



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