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Laser Engraving Explained
Aluminum carabiners undergo a process called anodization
which protects the surface of the aluminum from the elements as well as
abrasion. The clear or colored anodized coating interacts and integrates
with the metal surface producing an extremely durable layer. It’s this
very process of surface anodization that makes possible the rich looking laser engraved
marks as seen on our popular accessory carabiner keychains,
openers, military style dog tags,
water bottle holders and
party favors & tradeshow giveaways.
To engrave, both systems focus a beam of high intensity light through a lens. This high-powered focused beam of light has enough energy to vaporize the material surface thus producing a visible mark on the material. A CO2 system manages the forming of the image much like a conventional dot matrix printer scanning left to right as it moves down “through the image” while pulsing it’s vaporizing beam onto the material. The Nd:YAG laser system achieves the surface image by steering the beam of light through a lens by means of mirrors controlled by a computer.
When it comes to producing marks on anodized aluminum both systems are not equal. The much slower CO2 system produces marks of varying quality depending on the product color (anodized coating) being marked. Quality is defined in terms of brightness of the mark. The brighter the better. A high quality laser engraved mark appears bright white no matter what the color of the material. With CO2 systems, some marks take on the color tint of the material being marked resulting in a less desirable looking image. Trouble colors include Red, Blue and Black. Rarely, if ever will a CO2 laser mark these colors bright white. Take home message: When placing an order for laser engraved aluminum products always inquire about the equipment being used. If it’s a CO2 laser you can expect that your image on some colors will not look very attractive (for example it will look pink on red, light blue on blue and grey on black colored products).
more consistent and higher quality image on anodized aluminum is achieved
with Nd:YAG laser systems. Not only are they much faster than CO2 lasers
(resulting in lower run-time costs and savings for you), but they produce
the desired bright white mark that screams quality resulting in a
finished product that will sure to make a great first and lasting
impression on the recipient.
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