Checklist: How to Prepare the Acquisition of a Laser Marking Machine

 

The acquisition of a laser marker is a large investment for any organization. The correct choice of the laser depends on many variables and it is challenging to keep the overview of the huge number of providers and suppliers. The following questions will help you to get as many information as possible and to prepare the acquisition process by considering the main aspects.

What will be laser marked?

The first basic decisive information is which material or substrate will be marked (metal, plastic, glass,…) and if the product has a special surface finishing (matt, polished,…) because not every laser can be used for marking or engraving every material. The next is the expected marking effect, e.g. how light or dark, color/material removal, color change/frothing, carbonizing, engraving.

Color laser marking on brushed stainless steel (annealing).
Graded white, grey and black marks on anodized aluminum
Laser ablation is used for day/night applications in automotive and aircraft industries.
Silicone elastomers are marked durably and reliably with a UV laser.
PEEK (Polyetheretherketon), marked with a fiber laser.
UDI code, marked with a fiber laser.

Where and how should the marking take place: in a workstation or integrated in a production line?

Parts and products can be marked in a laser marking machine in laser safety class 1, also known as stand-alone laser workstation, or in a production line where a laser marker is integrated.

Y-series laser marker.
Laser marking machine FOBA M2000-P (M-Series).

The lasers that are built into the M-series workstations with laser safety class 1 can also be integrated into an assembly line or in special machines. Those laser markers have the same accessories available as the ones in the enclosed systems of our M-Series and has all the prerequisites for a smooth and easy integration. A laser with integrated camera system identifies the part and its position, aligns the mark and validates the quality and the content directly after the marking in a production line as fast as in an enclosed system.

Are any workflows needed in addition to the laser marking? Will a laser-integrated vision system be required and beneficial?

High-end laser technology with an integrated vision system offers not only the marking but also additional processes and features like HELP (Holistic Enhanced Laser Process) for more efficiency and highest quality, for example: automatic mark alignment, quality assurance and control, code reading, OCV, mark traceability, inspection of marking for quality, positioning, fixtureless marking MOSAIC,…).

Laser-integrated vision systems offer distinct advantages compared to external/not laser-integrated vision systems: not only before the marking (e.g. through automatic mark alignment, inspection of the parts, MOSAIC etc.) but also through time savings after the marking because no extra-handling is needed for processes like code-reading or validation. If such processes, high quality and safety are relevant for your business, it is recommended to take a laser system with integrated vision system into account.

How to get more information about laser marking

Once the basic questions are answered, it is worth it to educate yourself with an overview of the various available technologies and also to read application examples and case studies. It is important to ask for an expert consultation on the relevant technologies and to discuss the requirements with laser experts to find the perfect solution – because a laser is not to buy off the peg. Also ask for the calculation of your individual RoI (Return on Investment). A detailed consulting and extensive after sales services should be the basis of such an acquisition.

Do I need a sample marking and how can I get it?

As well as a detailed consultation, it is indispensable to request a sample marking from the manufacturer of your choice. To make sure that the sample marking optimally meets your requirements, detailed specifications are helpful, like information about: material, marking content, mark durability, mark timing, product life cycle etc.

Completed samples need to be tested thoroughly, e.g. regarding quality and contrast of the mark, legibility, traceability, etc. to check if all requirements are met. Then, give a feedback to the manufacturer and, if necessary, request a sample marking with different parameters.

How do I know if the laser marking machine is user-friendly?

The operator usability and all required functions can be tested in an application lab or showroom. It is important to collect as much information as possible as a potential operator because the handling differs from manufacturer to manufacturer and can be a critical factor for the purchase decision.

Do you have any specific requirements?

For an easy integration and installation as well as for smooth operation, it is important that the laser system is flexible, can be connected to your ERP system or database and that the software is customizable, if necessary.

Also confirm the possibilities for process validation and qualification of the laser marking system (e.g. IQ, OQ, PQ, MQ) – some manufacturers offer the validation and qualification as a service.

Also consider trainings of administrators and operators and if further services like a remote service are important for you to minimize outages: Therefore, check the availability and the content of service packages!

Compare quotes and decide!

Last but not least it is up to you to come to a decision.

The laser acquisition checklist is available for download in our download section.

More information

Technologies for laser marking
Case studies and application examples
Laser markers for integration
Laser marking machines (M-Series)

Do you need further information? Contact us!