There are four ways to mark metal with a CO2 laser: engrave (remove), bond (add), bleach (stain), and positive image (transform). Not only will each material type require different power and speed laser settings, but they will each look, feel, and perform differently from each other.
- Laser bonding products are durable but must be sprayed onto your marking surface and washed off – adding time to your process.
- Engravable metals are normally just metal that has been painted (or a metal-looking plastic), so they don’t have the same look and feel as real metal.
- Bleaching is how anodized aluminum is marked, where the heat of the laser simply turns the colored dye in the metal white.
- Positive image transformation materials (like AlumaMark) are unique in that the pre-coated metal is imaged through a transformation on the material’s surface. Not only does this technology preserve the look and feel of the real metal, but its mark can be detailed – ideal for halftone photographs and other detailed applications.
—Karly Baldi, Horizons