Handheld Laser Markers
Frequently Asked Questions
Handheld Laser Markers, also known as Handheld Laser Engravers are laser machines that allow engraving and marking on hard-to-move, stationary objects. These machines are typically very portable. Some units are battery operated.
Handheld Laser Markers generate a laser beam typically using a diode pumped solid state (DPSS) or a fiber laser source. The laser beam is then steered onto the surface using a pair of galvanometer scanning mirrors and an F-Theta lens that focuses the laser beam on the object being marked.
Most handheld laser markers come with a special bracket that is attached to the galvo scanner and ensures a uniform spacing between the object being marked and the F-theta lens This ensures that laser beam is focused correctly as long as the bracket is firmly held against the object.
Many handheld laser markers come with a red guide laser beam that projects either the center or the mark area on the sample. This makes positioning the unit very easy for most applications.
Most handheld laser markers come with safety feature that breaks the circuit when you move the bracket away from the sample. As a result, you simply will not be able to operate the unit unless you intentionally jailbreak the switch. In the event, the laser stays operational, away from the focal plane, the laser spot will become less focused and the beam spot will be enlarged. As a result you will either not be able to mark or will create a faint mark which looks out of focus and does not have high contrast.
The depth of a mark is determined by the laser parameters used to create the mark, the target material as well as the process chosen. Depending on the substrate being marked you might chose engraving or marking. The former creates much deeper marks, while the latter creates smoother appearance. Some materials are better suited for engraving (e.g. wood, some plastics, etc.) while others (e.g. stainless steel, etc.) might be better suited for marking. Also note that marking can also be done using laser marking ink which bond to the substrate by the laser radiation.
The finesse of the laser marks depends on the laser wavelength, laser power, and the type of material on which the laser marking is done. Today’s laser sources offer superb beam quality that allow focusing down sub-100 micrometer scale allowing one to create very fine features and characters. Stainless steel, brass, aluminum are some materials that would allow creating very fine laser marks, whereas glass, thermoset plastics and wood might be less forgiving. The upper limit of the laser mark size is limited by the laser mark area, which depends on the F-Theta lens and the bracket that the unit is equipped with. Larger focal distance lenses usually offer more generous mark area compared with lenses that have shorter focal distance. Most suppliers share the work area in the list of specifications. If in doubt, please inquire.
Yes, laser marking ceramics is possible. Different laser markers, however, are better at marking different ceramic types than others. Laser output parameters and the marking process chosen are important and you might want to consult with the supplier before deciding on a specific unit.
Yes, it is possible to mark various logos and graphic data through this technology. In fact the operating interface of handheld laser markers is very similar to those in other stationary units and allow uploading different types of graphic files.
This can be done by increasing the scan speed of laser. However, there is a tradeoff between the quality of the marking and the laser scan speed. With handheld laser marking you will also need to consider the entire process. If you are marking multiple objects, you will want to holistically think about the entire process of moving form on object to another, positioning the bracket on the sample, etc. Because of the manual nature of the process you might find that you spend more time on moving from one object to another rather than on actual marking.
Oil coatings are not a problem in small amounts, but large amounts of oil can block the laser beam. You might also find that the optimal marking parameters (laser output power, speed, resolution) are different than for clean samples. However, if you are using a laser marking ink or a laser marking tape, you will need to ensure that you sample is free from oil and other contaminants.
While it is possible to mark leather and leather objects in general, the bracket on the handheld laser marker requires relatively flat surface to lean on. As a result, you might find difficult to effectively position shoes or other irregular leather objects under the head of the handheld laser marker.
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