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Intro to Laser Processing

April, 2020

Laser marking machines are used across multiple industries for a wide variety of applications. Medical, military and manufacturing sites commonly employ lasers... but what can lasers actually do and what technology do they replace?

Laser markers perform laser processing - a technique used to melt/evaporate material through heat transfer by exposing it to a high energy laser beam. By rapidly increasing the surface temperature of the object to the melting/evaporation point, the object's surface is transformed.

1 Categories of laser processing

Laser processing is broadly categorized into “removal”, “bonding”, and “reforming.” Laser markers are capable of material removal and reforming.

2 Typical examples of laser processing

  1. Drilling- It is possible to create small holes in the surface of a material by emitting the laser in pulses for a specific period of time. Lasers can now process materials that previously could only be accomplished with molds and physical cutting elements.
  2. Cutting- Cut materials to desired shapes by applying a laser to the surface in an arbitrary path. Alternative tools used to create these types of marks have typically been molds and blade devices.
  3. Half-Cutting- A half cut is possible by changing the laser’s power and scanning speed.
  4. Coating Removal- Removes the surface coating to uncover the material/paint beneath. A typical example includes lighting switches in automobiles, cell phone buttons.
  5. Anodized/Film Layer Removal- Lasers can also be used to remove layers of anodization from the surface of metal components and transparent conducting layers such as ITO film to create patterning.

Depending on the material and the laser, laser engraving and laser etching are also possible. Check out Keyence's full laser lineup to learn more.

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