Laser engraving involves leaving deep, enduring marks on a metal surface. By focusing a laser beam in a predetermined pattern on the metal surface, the incision is made, vaporizing some materials to get rid of them. Because of its durability, exceptional resistance to corrosion, and lightweight, hjaluminumwindow.com has emerged as a versatile material that has come to be required in the majority of industries. Due to its numerous processing options, it provides endless design possibilities.
As a result, a variety of industries, including aerospace, automotive, electronics, building, and construction, have utilized it. Because it embeds permanent codes on components for easy traceability, laser engraving in aluminum is an important process for marking parts.
Continue read more to learn about the workings of laser engraving in aluminum, its advantages and disadvantages, and design guidelines for laser engraved aluminum part marking. Check out our guide on direct and other part markings if you want to learn more about other kinds of marking.
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How Aluminum Laser Engraving
Works in aluminum laser engraving, a powerful beam acts as a chisel, vaporizing particles from the metal surface to make deep marks. In order to avoid leaving behind a liquid residue, the laser engraver should emit enough energy so that the surface material is excited to its vaporization temperature, which for aluminum is 2,327 degrees Celsius or 4,221 degrees Fahrenheit. An air knife and a mechanism for removing fumes are two features of modern laser marking systems. The air knife protects the lens of the laser, and fume extraction keeps harmful fumes from entering the workplace.
When engraving aluminum, two types of lasers are utilized: CO2 lasers and fiber laser systems. Fiber lasers operate at a wavelength that interacts more effectively with metals. They are effective at producing a durable, high-contrast mark without compromising the parts’ integrity. Additionally, they last longer and are less expensive. Because of this, they are frequently used for marking industrial parts.
Aluminum can be engraved using a CO2 laser as well; these lasers can likewise be applied to non-metallic parts produced using acrylics, woods, and normal stone, so they are all the more generally utilized by makers that handle a more extensive scope of materials. Software on a computer controls laser marking systems.
Laser marks made of aluminum remain permanently on the surface. Because aluminum workpieces are subjected to a variety of wear and surface treatments, this is particularly crucial. Inscriptions don’t break down, tear, corrupt, or get disposed of regardless of how long the part endures or the cycles it goes through.
As a result, it is an appropriate marking method for components that may be subjected to additional rigorous treatments during the manufacturing process, such as shot blasting and sandblasting. If the right machine is used, laser etching aluminum can also be better for the environment than other methods of marking.
Why marking aluminum parts is important
Why mark aluminum parts? Part marking, as previously stated, makes it possible to precisely track a component’s serial number by marking a QR code, data matrix code, or serial number. It also helps identify parts and keep track of statistics in the manufacturing and application of components. As a result, part marking is essential for supply chain and quality control functions.
Different purposes behind part checking include:
Laser Engraving Bare Aluminum vs. Anodized Aluminum Both bare and anodized aluminum can be engraved with a fiber laser; however, it can be more challenging to engrave bare aluminum with a CO2 laser than it is to engrave anodized aluminum. To differentiate parts that appear similar. To facilitate part assembly. To link the part or product to the company and machine on which it was produced. For simple labeling.
The best framework for etching uncovered aluminum sheet metals is a fiber laser. As a pretreatment for the metal, the operator of CO2 lasers is required to spray a special paste. The chiseling agent is then adhered to the bare aluminum by the CO2 laser’s heat. The procedure requires high power configuration and takes time. The marks can easily wipe off if the work is not done at a low speed and with high power settings, necessitating a second attempt. A CO2 laser may cost more to carry out the same task because of these factors. A CO2 laser marking, on the other hand, does not remove any material, so it does not compromise the integrity of the material.
However, engraving anodized aluminum is as simple as using either kind of laser. Aluminum coated with an oxide layer is called anodized aluminum. The material is more resistant to UV and corrosion thanks to this coating, which also provides better lubrication and low-cost maintenance. Whether fiber or CO2 laser engraving is used, engraving this kind of aluminum is simple.
As a result, making a permanent mark with low power and cost is easier. However, the ease with which it is engraved may be affected by the grade of anodized aluminum; While Type III sheets require a higher power output to cut through the anodized coating, Type I and II anodized aluminum have thinner layers that are easier to engrave on.
Advantages and Drawbacks of Laser Engraving Aluminum
Laser engraving is utilized in manufacturing for a wide range of sectors, including healthcare, aerospace, electronics, automotive, and aerospace. Compared to etching, ink stamping, and other methods, laser engraving produces marks that are more durable and of a higher quality.
However, it also requires a high level of skill to perform and lead times can vary depending on the material. The following are additional details:
Advantages of Laser Marking Aluminum
The advantages of laser marking aluminum include:
- enduring nature of the markings.
- enhanced productivity in comparison to mechanical engraving.
- Marks that are more precise than those made by ink stamping
- a rise in some machines’ environmental friendliness (as less waste is generated).
- decreased danger of counterfeit parts entering the downstream supply chain.
Cons of Laser Etching
- Laser etching requires an elevated degree of administrator expertise, particularly while planning and setting the laser machine. Finding a shop with the expertise to carry out this procedure is crucial, which is where Xometry’s highly skilled manufacturer network comes in handy.
- Depending on the density of the material, production speed varies and can consume a lot of energy. Both of these things can raise costs.
- Some laser cutters discharge dangerous exhaust. Pollution of the environment can be significantly exacerbated by fumes.
Designing for Laser Engraved Aluminum Part Marking
There are similar design considerations for laser engraving aluminum as there are for other types of laser engraving and marking. In our guide to part marking, we go into more detail about the best design practices for part marking, but here are some of the most important things to keep in mind:
- Attempt to keep your design as simple as possible; Cost increases with complexity.
- Make sure the quality of your design does not suffer during engraving by submitting it as a vector file, such as a DXF. Definition is lost in pixel-based files like JPEGs.
- In the final submission, be sure to include all necessary marking dimensions, particularly character size and engraving depth.
- Include the location where you want the marking to be placed.
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Also read: The Art Of Custom Metal Fabrication