Manufacturers of metal parts often perform surface treatments to change or modify the exterior of a workpiece in some way. For instance, a specific treatment may alter the surface texture or modify the color. The process of finishing a metal component sometimes involves the use of multiple surface treatments.

Engraving occurs when a manufacturer removes material selectively from the surface of a workpiece, beginning at the top and extending downwards to specified depths. This operation usually occurs in conjunction with the finishing phase of manufacturing.

The Laser Engraving Process

In the past, manufacturers often relied upon the use of acids to etch away material in order to perform metal engraving. Today, the development of a wide variety of lasers has permitted production facilities to use industrial engraving lasers instead in many situations. Lasers rely on focused, amplified beams of light to cut away metal from the surface of a workpiece to designated depths.

Laser engraving may perform an important role during the finishing a metal component. This process offers a way to permanently associate information with a manufactured item. It may also permit the uniform creation of grooves, notches or slots, for instance. The ability to use powerful industrial engraving lasers offers many advantages over the use of etching acids.

Advantages of Laser Engraving

Laser engraving offers a number of distinct advantages during metal parts production.

  1. This technology provides an excellent value during the finishing process because it does not require extensive tooling. Instead, a concentrated bean remotely marks, cuts and engraves components. The laser beam won’t grow dull or lose its cutting capabilities with heavy use.
  2. Lasers function well in conjunction with extensive automation. Manufacturers can use software programs and computerized equipment to control the angle and depth of laser penetration precisely. Products moving along assembly lines in some facilities undergo laser engraving without requiring individualized handling. In this respect, laser engraving serves as an accurate, cost-effective process in high volume manufacturing settings.
  3. Unlike acid-etching, laser beams perform engraving without generating undesirable toxins or chemical waste products. The use of “clean” laser technology readily permits repetition, without costing metal parts manufacturers additional costs to perform byproduct disposal or environmental cleanup.
  4. Today lasers engrave reliably in three dimensions on many different types of materials, including most metal alloys. Laser beams access the interior of cavities inside metal components, for instance. They also remove material from ornate or complexly-shaped metal surfaces. In this respect, laser engraving supplies incredible versatility.
  5. Industrial engraving lasers allow manufacturers to selectively remove material from metal components within tight tolerance ranges. The high level of accuracy makes this process suitable for relaying important information about the product through the use of engraved data. For instance, a manufacturer may use a laser to engrave safety information or an identification number permanently on a metal component.