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UV Laser Advantages for Automotive Manufacturing

June, 2020

Automotive manufacturing has changed dramatically in the last decade. Plastic parts are common and electric vehicles are creeping into the market.

The influx of new parts and part materials has heightened the need for automotive traceability. Fiber laser markers - traditionally the go-to marking units - are often not able to mark plastic parts cleanly and accurately.

KEYENCE's UV laser markers have been designed to overcome recent trends in the automotive industry and establish themselves as long-term traceability systems.

The Advent of Plastic Marking

1 Growing proportion of automobile parts made of plastic

The usage of heat-resistant, durable plastics as an alternative to ferrous materials is increasing, due to the move toward lightweight parts in order to reduce fuel consumption. Additionally, more regulations regarding traceability are being put in place as the number of parts increases. It is clear that this trend will continue, and complying with regulations efficiently is becoming more and more important.

2 Advantages of UV Laser Marking

UV lasers normally have a superior absorption rate on materials compared to standard wavelength lasers (IR / 1064 nm) and green lasers (SHG / 532 nm), as well as being more efficiently absorbed on the marking surface.
Because of this, there is no need to increase the power beyond what is necessary to create clear and recognizable marking.

Absorption Rate of Different Materials (Plastic)

Light Absorption Rate on Metal

3 Photolytic processing delivers high-contrast, damage-free marking

UV lasers have higher light energy compared to conventional IR lasers. This makes it easier to pass the threshold required for coloration, which in turn allows for clear marking on a variety of materials.

Standard wavelength lasers used heat processing, which caused heat damage to products. UV laser photolytic processing is known as non-thermal marking, and it provides clear markings with minimal damage when processing.

4 High absorption rates accommodate material changes

Demand for marking of high-strength and high-heat-resistance plastics, which are difficult to mark using conventional laser engraving methods, has increased as product quality increases and costs decrease. Even with the same materials, there are cases where the same marking cannot be performed due to differences in the composition of the plastic between manufacturing countries or material manufacturers. UV lasers provide high contrast even in these situations.

5 High absorption rates accommodate environmental changes

When performing laser marking on production lines, the focus can change due to small differences in products, or the laser power can change due to external causes such as oil mist. With a UV laser, stable operation is maintained even when external conditions change.

The advent of plastic parts in automotive manufacturing has led to the need for more robust marking systems. Keyence's ultraviolet laser markers are well positioned for current (and future) automotive needs. Download the brochure to learn more.