From automotive aftermarket parts to precision medical parts, stainless steel is a construction material of choice for a huge variety of industries and markets. With the number of applications stainless steel is uses in it is unsurprising that there is also a great degree of variability in the reasons for marking it. Laser engraving is a versatile and efficient way to mark stainless steel for everything from traceability to aesthetics.
Why Laser Engrave Stainless Steel?
Engraving creates a very deep mark so it is an ideal marking solution for applications where the part will be under stress or in harsh environments. The depth of the mark means that it can take a beating and still remain legible. The durability of the mark makes engraving the marking solution of choice for many applications with abrasive environments.
How to Laser Engrave Stainless Steel
Typically engraving is accomplished by increasing the power of the laser and decreasing the marking speed. In our experience, the best results are accomplished with marking speeds of about 8-15 inches/second using multiple passes. The best technique for deeper engraving is to remove thin slices of material with multile engraving passes rather than trying to blast through the material all at once in a single laser pass.
You could slow your marking speed way down to remove more material at once, but the result is a slaggy bottom in the trough of the engraving and an accumulation of slag at the edges of the engraving. To achieve engraving depth and still maintain a cleaner trough and edges, it is recommended to use multiple laser passes with different fill angles at higher speeds. Material can continue to be removed until the focused laser spot size is too large to vaporize the metal or, in the case of very detailed engraving or small characters, the newly vaporized material can’t escape from a very narrow trough.
The laser parameter variables that should be adjusted for optimum results are laser power, galvanometer speed, fill density, number of fill passes and angle of the fill. Specific numbers for those settings depend on the specific laser, focusing lens and software in your system. A 20 watt fiber laser with a long focal length lens, such as a 330 mm lens that provides a 9 inch square or so marking field, is not particularly well suited for deeper engraving into stainless. On the other hand, a 50 watt fiber laser with a shorter focal length lens, say a 255 mm or 163 mm EFL lens, can be made to yield excellent engraving results in stainless.
Laser Engraving Stainless Steel with a Langolier Laser Marking System
A Jimani Langolier fiber laser marking system is a good marking solution for laser engraving stainless steel. These systems are fully complete systems and are customizable to accommodate space challenged manufacturing and laser marking job shop environments.
All Langolier fiber laser marking systems use Prolase, a user friendly, proven, robust laser marking software package that is very easy to use for importing and manipulating graphics files for brands, logos, and schematic files.
Click this link to see other articles about laser marking stainless steel.
Contact Jimani and see what they can do for you with a state of the art laser marking system.