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5 Laser Marking Machine Processes for Your Next Project

The burgeoning technology of lasers has provided us with far greater applications than we could have ever imagined. We now have much more powerful lasers that can be used to cut and etch hardy materials like metal. Due to the versatility of lasers, you can etch and drill down to incredibly precise measurements.

This industry continues to grow, which means greater advancements in laser technology. According to Grand View Research, the global laser marking market was valued at $2.76 billion in 2020. The more the technology advances, the more affordable it becomes to work with tough materials in a quick and efficient manner. Here are several ways to utilize a laser marking machine.

1. Engraving

This process of laser marking removes material to create a permanent score. You can choose the depth of engraving to create a smooth or rough surface depending on your needs. Take note of your material’s strength when you choose the depth, however, as removing too much of the material can compromise its structure. It’s also worth considering that engraving can allow dirt and bacteria to accumulate in the grooves. Talk to your laser marking machine operator to know what settings will be right for your material.

2. Etching

While someone unfamiliar with lasers may think of engraving and etching as the same process, they have important differences. Unlike engraving, etching involves removing only the coating of a surface. Laser marking machines have become so precise that they can etch down to a ten-thousandth of an inch. This makes for an incredibly smooth surface which is excellent for printing logos or serial numbers on your material.

Etching is a great way to make expensive objects traceable. Not only is the marking subtle and low-profile, but it is also difficult to remove. That means if your object is stolen, you can feel secure knowing it has an easily-identifiable marking that can be shared with authorities and pawn shops.

You’ll also utilize etching if you choose to use a pad printing service to print a logo on objects such as clothing. This type of printing can use a metal plate etched with your design to transfer ink on the plate to your chosen material. This can be an easy and efficient way to print a large number of 3D objects.

3. Annealing

If you’re looking for an even less intrusive laser marking machine technique than etching, you may want to consider annealing. Instead of cutting into the material like the engraving or etching process, annealing instead heats the material to create a permanent mark. This process is great if you want to prevent the pitfalls of engraving or etching such as bacterial growth or corrosion.

The equivalent of this process on plastic material is called carbonization. This is done on light and clear plastics to create a dark or gray mark. If your plastic is already pretty dark in color, you may want to consider an alternative process.

4. Plastic Foaming and Vaporization

Since plastic contains a different molecular structure from other materials like metal, it is subject to a unique process by a laser marking service, called foaming. Rather than simply removing plastic, the laser marking machine heats the plastic to create gas bubbles. These bubbles then cool to create a raised mark.

If you’re looking for an inversion of this process, look to vaporization. Instead of creating a bump on the plastic, vaporization will create a groove on your object. Consider the uses of your object and your needs, as the groove may collect more dirt and grime than the raised mark created by the foaming process.

5. Laser Drilling

While these are useful laser marking services, they may not be enough for your needs. Although lasers have the capability of making fine alterations, they also have the power to cut through strong metals. This is when you should turn to laser drilling. This more intensive process will create holes in your object, which can be a great way to machine metal. This can be perfect for machining small parts for computers. Just as lasers can etch incredibly precisely, they can also drill incredibly small holes.

Whether you’re looking to brand t-shirts with a design or need precise micro-machining, a laser marking machine is the way to go. Be sure to ask your local laser marking service about which types of lasers they own and their capabilities. AMTEC has a variety of lasers that can take on most jobs. Call us today to find out more!

A Guide to Pad Printing Machines

A Guide to Pad Printing Machines

Most manufactured items are three-dimensional, but the designs and any printing that goes onto them are two-dimensional. A pad printing machine enables manufacturers to apply a two-dimensional image or design onto a three-dimensional object. According to Future Market Insights, the 2023 global market for pad printing machines is nearly $1.14 billion. Let’s take a look at what this popular process could do for your business!

How Does a Pad Printing Machine Work?

A pad printing machine has three primary parts that enable it to do its magic. An etched plate contains an image that becomes a two-dimensional design. An ink cup that contains ink glides over the etched plate’s surface and leaves a very thin layer of ink on it. A silicone pad contacts the ink-coated plate etching, lifts the image, and transfers it to the three-dimensional object.

What Are Some Common Items That Have Pad Printing Machine Designs?

Many different types of items could contain an image or design that is transferred with a pad printing machine. According to Inkcups, products that commonly use the process include:

  • Watch faces
  • Pens
  • Flash drives
  • Garment tags
  • Silicone products

The pad printing machine enables those items and others to look identical, which is very useful for manufacturing processes. The process is fast and affordable and produces excellent results.

Why Should You Use a Silicone Pad?

The silicone pad is an integral part of the pad printing process and enables correct and accurate transfers of two-dimensional images onto three-dimensional surfaces and objects. The silicone pad is pliable and flexible, which makes it possible to conform to the shape. The pads vary in shape and size, making them flexible and pliable to produce the best results.

How Does the Shape Affect the Printing Pad?

The shape of the printing pad enables it to effectively transfer two-dimensional images to three-dimensional objects of different shapes and sizes. A curved or rounded object requires a flatter pad. A pad that has sharp angles generally does a great job on surfaces that have less curvature or sharp angles. A flat pad, though, might trap air between the pad and the object. This would prevent a full transfer of the image. If the pad is too small, the image often becomes distorted.

You can call to learn more about pad printing machines and how they could help with your manufacturing processes. Reach out to us at AMTEC today!