The difference between laser marking, etching and engraving
Laser engraving, etching and marking are often used interchangeably when it comes to laser cutting.
Do you know there’s actually a difference between these three terms?
Laser Marking – This is done with a low-power laser beam by discoloring the material to create a high-contrast without actually disrupting the material's surface. The marking is done via oxidation under the surface causing it to turn black.
It is sometimes called laser coloration or laser dark marking.
It is most commonly used on metals but the charring effect can also be done on plastic materials.
It is typically used for serial numbers or model codes with great application in many fields.
Laser marking can be used on flat, curved or round surfaces.
Laser Engraving – On the other hand, cuts a cavity through the material’s surface leaving a cavity that reveals an image or writing at eye level that is noticeable to the touch as well.
This is done with high-power laser causing the material surface to vaporize.
It is very precise and is often a good option for people who want to personalize or customize something.
Engraving depth can vary between 0.02″ in metals to 0.125″ in harder materials.
You can engrave almost any type of material but are most commonly used for metal, plastics, wood, leather, glass and acrylic.
Laser Etching – This is really a subset of engraving, with the main difference being the depth of the cut.
This is usually no more than 0.001″ — which makes it the most viable option for thin materials and small projects such as jewelry.
Those are the basic definitions and differences between the three terms often used for laser cutting.
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