Differentiating Laser Engraving, Etching, and Marking

Laser machine at work The application of laser technology has made tons of industrial and mechanical jobs easier and faster. This is perhaps one of the most useful and valuable discoveries of all time.
From as simple as precision cutting to a more highly-technical use of a laser carving machine, these advancements in laser technology are quite stunning.

Yet, some people refer to a few laser terminologies, such as engraving, etching, and marking incorrectly. The application remains the same, but you may also be wondering what the differences among these three are. Read on to find out.

Laser Marking

The fastest method among the three laser applications, laser marking is done by applying low-powered beam that causes the material to turn into black, also called discoloration. This is the most popular laser marking method where it only changes the outer chemical characteristic of the material and not its physical aspect. As such, it is often referred to as laser coloration of dark marking.

Yet, there are three other common methods of laser marking aside from discoloration, namely: annealing, carbon migration, and foaming. Laser marking is commonly used for serial numbers, model codes, and logos printed on either metal or plastic material. But more importantly, it can be applied to either flat or curved surface.

Laser Engraving

Unlike laser marking, engraving physically changes the texture of the material. By applying a high amount of heat, it causes the material to vaporize, making a hollow writing of between 0.125″ to 0.02″ on the surface, depending on the type of material.

Engraving can be applied to materials such as wood, metal, plastic, glass, and acrylic. Newer yet cheaper laser engraving machines are used by local businesses for personalized or customized printing.

Laser Etching

The same concept is applied on laser etching except the carving is a little shallower, no more than 0.001″. Laser etching can also be used on wood, metal, plastic, glass, and acrylic, as well as plated metal surfaces, polymers, and ceramics. This method is the better option to use on thin materials, such as pieces of jewelry, compact discs, and machine parts, among others.

Now that you know the differences and applications of laser marking, engraving, and etching, you can start looking for the right machine for your business. Buy only from a reputable supplier to ensure quality and reliability.