Laser engraving processes have long been a key component for a number of industrial processes requiring precision marking of coded information on high-density surfaces such as metal plate and parts. The aim of laser engraving technology development has been to produce improved systems capable of highly detailed engraving work within smaller spaces with reduced dwell-times for the beam in order to speed up production. Wedding laser marking and engraving systems with computer control has vastly improved both speed and accuracy, and advances in beam focusing have achieved the other element of the equation.
A fiber laser marker carves part code information, alpha-numeric identifiers, bar codes, data-matrix serial numbers, part labels, icons and logos onto machine component parts with far greater precision than possible with older laser equipment. The fiber laser itself delivers a tight focused beam onto an object, resulting in a permanent abrasion-resistant mark. The whole system usually consists of a fiber laser engine, a scanning assembly (galvos), and a control computer with CAD software and direction programs to perform the entire task automatically. The control programs themselves are capable of manipulating multi-axial motion for very complex engraving. In some applications, laser machining, cutting, scribbing, and removal of excess material or “flash” can also be performed.
The CAD graphics software loaded onto the control computer performs detailed engraving work where text, logos and icons are required. Programming features include a wide variety of size and detail options available to the design operator, while automatic functions usually handle the more mundane tasks of serializing parts, engraving date stamps and pre-programmed text. The control computer can be programmed remotely or directly through input-output control keypads and other programming controls and features available to the operator.
Control and design software is designed to run on the Windows operating system, and installation is fairly quick and easy for an operator to perform. Once loaded, the operator has available a complete library of TrueType fonts, stock images and wire-frame artwork. The system will also accept CorelDraw files or any type of HPGL software package. With these capabilities programmed into the system, a virtually limitless range of custom designs can be inputted and executed by laser onto the target. And operation is as easy as any performed on any typical desktop system. Often, these are complete turnkey systems requiring no special training, and can be brought into immediate application on the production floor with no problem.