As a long time laser marker manufacturer, we get a lot of questions about lasers and how they are used. What components go into building a system and how fast a laser marker produces a mark tend to be two of the most popular.
Q: What is the cost of a laser system?
A: The laser module, the scanhead that moves the laser beam through the lens, the f theta lens, the control electronics and software make up much of the cost of a laser marking system. Workstations, enclosures and motion systems (X,Y,Z or Rotary) add further costs to the system.
It is impossible to know the cost of a system without knowing what it consists of. Setting aside motion systems and automation, a laser marker mounted on a versatile Z axis workstation with a 20 watt fiber laser should have a price in the $35-$37K range. This assumes that quality components are used throughout.
Q: How fast can I laser mark a part?
A: The marking time of any part depends on how many lines the laser has to draw (every mark, whether it be text, graphics or bar codes, consists of individual vector lines drawn by the laser as it moves over the part) and how fast the laser beam draws each of those lines. A single line drawn by a laser marker is usually on the order of .002-.004″ wide. If a .1″ tall bold character needs to be marked the laser will draw many individual lines to create that bold character. The material that is being marked, the number of vector lines drawn and the depth of the marking will determine total marking time. Total cycle time is the combined marking time and part placement and removal time.
For example, if the substrate to be marked was anodized aluminum and the information to be marked was the word “Jimani” in .1″ high characters with a bold Ariel TT font, the marking time would be on the order of 2-3 seconds. If that same text was marked in a single line “stick” font, the marking time would be on the order of 300 ms. If the same text was to be marked with the bold Ariel font but the substrate was a steel plate and the marking had to be .010″ deep, the marking time would be on the order of 25 seconds.