Marking & Engraving

Fiber lasers are a cost-effective alternative for laser

marking of a large spectrum of consumer and

industrial goods. The increased need for material

traceability, anti-counterfeiting measures or

product identification requires a fast and

indelible marking process.


Laser technology is the most versatile

marking solution as it allows

the material surface to be marked

or engraved without surface contact

or the need for inks or dyes.

The good absorption properties of most metals at near IR wavelengths make fiber lasers very attractive for laser marking applications. The beam quality, compact design and maintenance-free operation of IPG Photonics’ Q-switched type and CW lasers are designed for a wide range of applications and fit most marking requirements.

Q-switched type fiber lasers with pulse energy up to 10 mJ and average powers up to 200 W provide the high peak powers and nanosecond pulses that can be used to mark most materials. The high peak power enables marking of reflective materials such as gold and aluminum. Examples include deep permanent markings on heavy-duty gears and auto parts.

The CW single-mode fiber lasers accommodate some marking requirements in metals. The CW output is important when fast, clean and shallow non-intrusive markings are required.


Types of Metals

Stainless Steels Carbon Steels Gold & Silver Aluminum
Tool Steels Nickel Alloys Brass & Copper Titanium



The marking process for polymers is highly dependent on the base material, additives and other constituents that make up finished polymers. This means that the markability of polymers may vary from batch to batch and may even be different on other areas of a particular component. As a result, the process requires unique setup parameters for each marking application.

The beam quality, marking contrast and processing speed of IPG's 1 micron Q-switched type lasers are designed for a wide range of applications and fit most marking requirements. Q-switched fiber lasers with typical 1 mJ pulse energy provide sufficient peak powers to mark many polymer materials. The high power density enables marking of historically difficult polymers such as nylons and urethanes. Variable pulsed length lasers also give an additional level of control that might be required for some particularly sensitive marking applications such as sub-surface marks in polycarbonate. Both laser types are also well suited to mark additive enhanced plastics for achieving good quality and contrast. 


Green and UV nanosecond pulsed lasers also have some applications for marking certain very specific polymers where minimum heat input is required. The best known application of this is the use of UV lasers for marking titanium dioxide filled (white) polymers where an aesthetically pleasing light grey mark with good contrast can be produced.

Types of Polymers

Polycarbonate Thermoplastic Urethane Nylon
Polypropylene Polyethylene (HDPE/ LDPE) ABS


There are several material considerations in developing a marking process suited to each application: material type, color and surface finish. These requirements as well as its environmental considerations determine the methods for marking or engraving. There are four commonly used techniques for laser marking:

Marking & Engraving Techniques


Laser engraving or vaporization is a non-contact process of ablating material by a combination of vaporization and melt ejection to achieve a high quality finish and controlled depths up to 0.5 mm. Laser engraving is a cost-effective process for industrial, automotive and aerospace components and the flexibility of laser marking software allows detailed artwork, text or graphics to be produced. Advantages over the mechanical process include substantial reduction in setup costs, process time, fine detail engraving and the ability to engrave on curved surfaces.




Surface coating removal, similar to engraving via vaporization, is a process in which the laser ablates the surface coating of the substrate. This method can create excellent contrast without affecting the underlying substrate. This laser marking method works well with coatings, paints, and other surface treatments. Surface coating removal is typically used for marking anodized aluminum, coated metals, films and foils.




Dark marking is a well-known process used for marking metals, usually stainless steel, where a dark oxide coating is built up without excessive melting or disruption of the surface. Often incorrectly called anneal marking, this technique offers significant advantages when marking surfaces with low surface roughness. The process may be specified to create colors and intricate details on the substrate. Since there is no material removal, the marking process does not affect the critical function of the substrate nor the corrosion resistance of metals such as stainless steel.




Coloration or laser marking of polymers often relies on a number of different laser-induced mechanisms such as carbonization or foaming. Carbonization (a thermochemical process) produces dark marks. Foaming, a partial degradation creating gas bubbles within the material, scatters the light and produces light-colored marks. Incorporating additives into polymers can improve marking by increasing absorption and by subtly altering the chemistry of the mark.



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