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Plastics Laser Marking is often considered a relatively new technology, but the industry has been developing laser active plastic additives and color concentrates for quite some time. The allure of laser marking over pad-printing or adhesive labels, especially for part identification, is that laser marking is fast, contactless, clean, precise, low-cost, and permanent.
The word LASER is actually an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation which describes the generation, excitation, and amplification of light energy into a concentrated beam that can mark an article. The light beam, or ‘laser beam’ can be generated by different sources to produce different wavelengths, amplitudes, intensities, and beam widths, so it is important to know your laser’s characteristics.
Depending on the type of additive used, the desired mark, and the color concentrate used, different marking types may be considered. Foaming, engraving, ablation, carbonization, and bleaching are the primary mark types for plastics. For marks that don’t involve material removal, LASER marking additives can produce light marks on dark colored parts, and dark marks on light colored parts primarily by the foaming and carbonization mechanisms. Though many concentrates are inherently markable, additives improve the marking depth, contrast, and durability. Careful selection of pigments, stabilizers, and resins can also improve the mark performance.
There are many different laser sources that define the laser characteristics, but the most common are CO2 (gas), Nd:YAG and Vanadate (solid state crystal), and Fiber (RE doped). Each type has advantages and disadvantages depending on the desired application and mark type, but generally speaking, all can be used for marking plastics. Some plastics reflect CO2 laser wavelengths impacting the ability to mark. Nd:YAG and Fiber lasers function in the NIR wavelength region where many pigments have optical absorption and reflectance characteristics. Therefore, laser marking additives help to control marking behavior over a broad class of resins and pigment chemistries.
At Chroma Color Corporation, we can help you select the right colorant and additive package to ensure you obtain the ideal laser mark for your product at an economical cost-to-color. With our in-house NIR Laser, we can help you optimize the marking behavior and laser settings for a variety of resins including ABS, PE, PP, LDPE, HDPE, Co- Polyester, PBT, Polysulfone, GPPS, HDPE, Nylon, Acrylic, PVC, Polyacetal, and Polycarbonate. In addition, Chroma’s patented G3 technology can also provide highly loaded concentrates with laser marking additives. Contact Us Today!