From Pad Printing to Laser Marking: Why the Trend is Moving Towards Lasers

Various processes have become established for marking industrial parts. Be it pad printing, labeling, Drop-on-Demand or CIJ (Continuos Inkjet): Each process has its strengths. However, many manufacturers increasingly prefer laser technology, as it offers clear advantages and manufacturers benefit from greater profitability.

Pad Printing or Laser Marking?

The specific requirements of the application guide the decision and determine whether pad printing or laser marking is the right marking process. If, for example, a printing in several colors or with shading on plastic is required, pad printing is generally used.

However, for industrial applications often other criteria are decisive, especially against the background of regulations relating to reliable traceability and the increasing demand for highest efficiency. These include, for example, perfect legibility, durability, resistance to environmental influences and a highly efficient production with as less scrap as possible. If these aspects are important, laser technology is the optimum solution in most of the cases. 

Background: Why is the trend towards laser marking?

Laser marking is a highly reliable process for industrial part marking that is continuously evolving. The high level of innovation is constantly opening up new areas of application and opportunities to optimize processes by using laser technology. For manufacturers who mark their products, it is therefore worth considering a change and checking which process offers the greatest long-term benefits

The main reasons why laser marking is increasingly replacing processes such as pad printing are:

  • New scope of application and process optimization
  • Flexibility
  • Quality
  • Efficient and forward-thinking production

New scope of applications and process optimization

One of the reasons for the increasing use of lasers, especially in the electronics and automotive industries, is that the latest innovations in laser technology enable reliable and permanent laser marking of materials that previously could not be laser marked or only with using additives. These include various plastics that are used for electronic components, such as polyamide and similar materials.

Furthermore, marking lasers become more and more compact, right down to the smallest laser marking head in the world. Thus, integration is really easy, even in production environments where space is limited. 

Also innovative vision-assisted marking plays a key role for the prevalence of laser marking. Especially when the vision system is integrated directly into the laser marking head, such as IMP (Intelligent Marking Positioning), users benefit from lean, efficient processes, optimum marking quality, reliable positioning and easy quality control.


Production conditions are developing and changing at a rapid pace in almost all industries. Be it due to new regulations and standards that need to be taken into account or due to internal requirements, for example as part of process optimization or quality management. This is why processes manufacturers benefit from processes that can be easily, cost-effectively and quickly adapted to new conditions.

If, for example, the marking content needs to be changed, pad printing requires the entire cliché to be reworked or newly produced and replaced at high cost. This is where the laser marking process offers decisive advantages: Adapting the digital data is time- and resource-friendly and offers almost unlimited flexibility. Also given that user manuals will be available exclusively in digital form via codes in the near future, the marking process needs to offer high flexibility which is provided by laser marking


Laser markings are extremely resistant, durable, abrasion- and scratch-resistant. The laser marking process enables reliably repeatable marking results. Even the smallest content and fine lines are applied with the laser pin-sharp, reliably legible and with maximum precision, ensuring complete traceability.

A laser-integrated vision system provides high-precision alignment and automatically checks both content and marking quality. Thus, the scrap rate is significantly reduced and furthermore there is no need for time-consuming follow-up inspections that are necessary with other processes, such as pad printing, due to adhesion problems.

Efficient and forward-thinking production

Especially from a long-term perspective, a marking laser pays off in terms of TCO (total cost of ownership) for most applications. First of all, there is no need for consumables which eliminates ancillary printing costs and waste and is environmental-friendly. Furthermore, laser markers are low-maintenance, robust and provide user-friendly, resource-saving operation. The integration of lasers into existing production lines as well as the connection to MES (manufacturing execution systems) is easy due to existing interfaces. Marking lasers provide options for automation and digitalization to ensure the requirements for future-oriented production, and can be an important key in supporting environmental and health protection.


Selection criteria: Which process is suitable for my application?

Various criteria must be taken into account when choosing the optimum process, for example:

  • Your marking requirements, for example: content, font, appearance, contrast, durability, legibility 
  • Processing/cycle time
  • Environmental and health aspects
  • Future perspective: What future requirements need to be taken into account when making your choice?
  • Does the marking process offer added values, for example in terms of process efficiency and quality management?
  • Comparative cost calculation / TCO / RoI
  • Resources and time required for maintenance and replacement of consumables

Additionally, it is always helpful to get advice from experts on the various processes, to experience the machines live and to request marking tests in order to gain practical insights during the decision-making process.


If you mark your industrial parts products, it is worth taking a close look at existing processes and comparing different processes with each other. This is especially important when processes have never been put to the test or have not been for a long time, as latest innovations in laser technology offer potential for optimizing processes and improving efficiency.

Marking lasers provide competitive, sustainable production and offer decisive advantages, because they will help you to...

  • ...increase your productivity
  • ...reduce waste and costs
  • flexible
  • ...benefit in terms of health and environmental protection

Get more information about these benefits here: "At a Glance: 4 Reasons for Laser Marking".