This section provides overview, applications, and principles of laser markers. Also, please take a look at the list of 10 laser marker manufacturers and their company rankings.
A laser marker is a device that prints or processes an object by irradiating the surface of the object with a laser beam. The laser irradiation causes the surface to discolor and print by scraping or chemically reacting with the surface.
The advantages of this technology are that it can print with high precision because it can irradiate light with pinpoint accuracy and that it is more resistant to fading than inkjet printers and other types of printers. Laser markers can also be used to print on a wide variety of materials, including metal, resin, glass, and wood.
Laser markers are mainly used in the automotive, food, semiconductor, and other industrial fields. Examples are as follows.
In particular, while printing and processing on metals used to be done by engraving with a needle-like tool, demand is shifting to laser markers, which are capable of more precise and detailed printing.
There are two main types of laser marker printing: masking and scanning.
A laser beam is irradiated onto a mask with holes in the pattern to be printed, and the light that passes through the mask is focused by a lens to print. The disadvantage of this method is that it requires the preparation of different masks for each printing pattern, which is time-consuming and costly.
A laser is scanned according to the printing pattern. A galvanometer mirror is used for scanning, and two mirrors, one for the X-axis and the other for the Y-axis, reflect the laser beam, allowing it to move freely on a flat surface. Adding a mirror corresponding to the Z-axis also enables the scanning of curved surfaces. Laser markers currently on the market generally employ the scanning method.
The laser used for laser markers must be selected appropriately according to the type of base material and the contents of printing/processing. Typical laser types include CO2 gas lasers, solid-state lasers using YAG or YVO4 as the medium, and Yb-based fiber lasers.
Laser markers can be broadly classified into the following three types
This type of laser marker is used for a wide range of applications, including printing on metals such as cans and plastic surfaces. It is a gentle laser that does not cause damage to materials.
See detailed explanation of YAG lasers and ranking of notable manufacturers.
Fiber lasers have high output and are used for deep drilling into metals. It is used for printing characters on metal jigs and pipe surfaces.
See detailed explanation of Fiber Lasers and ranking of the hottest manufacturers.
CO2 lasers can print on paper, wood, rubber, resin, and other transparent materials such as glass.
See detailed explanation of CO2 lasers and ranking of the hottest manufacturers.
Mainly used to imprint names, initials, or characters by applying a laser to a piece of wood, cork, metal plate, or resin plate and scorching it. They can be purchased through mail-order websites and cost around 50,000-100,000 yen. They come with a cover to prevent dust from being spread around and to prevent accidental exposure of the laser to the eyes. Characters and designs are created using a dedicated application, and information is transferred from a PC or smartphone to be printed.
These laser markers are about the size of a digital camera and are used by fixing them with a tripod. Its compact size allows it to be carried anywhere, from the living room to the study, warehouse, etc., for laser printing and pattern engraving. There are handheld laser markers for industrial use, but they cannot be held in place while printing, so they must be set in a holder. While this type of marker has the advantage of allowing the user to freely set the angle and distance from the product, it is not suitable for high-definition barcode printing.
*Including some distributors, etc.
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