Laser Marking Terminology
There are no universally recognized standards to describe the different types of laser marking and laser engraving offered. At NLE we have standardized on the following terms to make it easier for our customers to specify exactly what they want:
Laser Mark Type 1: Stain Mark (Also sometimes referred to as Dark Mark, Laser Mark, Dark Laser Mark, Out Of Focus Stain Mark): This dark annealed marking is often used on medical devices and components that benefit from a non-disrupted surface, or in cases where a customer wants the look and smooth "feel" of the marking. There are occasions where customers will have laser etch, or even laser engrave on their prints while really wanting a stain mark. This marking is generally performed per our NL-DM-01 internal specification.
Laser Mark Type 2: Dark Laser Engrave (Also sometimes referred to as Dark Etch, Laser Engrave): Frequently used on uncoated promotional products and other metal components when a non-glossy, textured dark etched surface is desired. A small amount of material is vaporized by the laser, and the etch may feel slightly raised to the touch as well as textured. There is no measurable depth to this type of etch, but peak penetrations will range from a few ten thousands to a few thousands of an inch.
Laser Mark Type 3: Corrosion Resistant Laser Mark per NLE-CR-01 (our proprietary process): This process is similar to a stain mark in that it leaves a dark (charcoal gray to dark brown) marking with no appreciable texture to the surface. However, NLE's corrosion resistant process has been specially designed to resist the formation of rust on or around the marking. This marking is generally less glossy and black than a Type 1 stain mark. This process is used extensively on medical instruments made of 300 series, as well as 17-4 and 17-7 stainless steels. Process times are longer than for Type 1 stain marks.
Laser Mark Type 4: "White" or "Frosted" Etch (Also sometimes referred to as Laser Etch or Laser Engrave): This type of marking is particularly useful on highly polished or reflective parts, or on metals having a dark coating. The laser lightly disrupts the surface of the component, ablating any coating and leaving a mark that appears white or "frosted". This type of mark is also used on pewter or silver, since it does not require wiping (which can scratch or scuff soft metals)
Laser Mark Type 5: Laser Abrade: The laser is used to impart a bead blast like texture over a section of a part. The textured area is generally bright in appearance but may be slightly darkened depending on the target surface roughness. Laser abrading is consistent part to part, lot to lot and across the entire surface being abraded. Laser abrading will not imbed contaminants into the textured surface and will not damage thin walled material. Laser abrading can be applied to tightly controlled areas of a part without masking.
Laser Mark Type 6: Deep Engrave: The laser is used to engrave clean measurable depth exceeding 0.002”, and up to 0.030” deep. Common applications include mold core engraving or component engraving requiring a secondary color fill. Process time and cost are directly proportional to the total amount of material to be removed, and are generally much higher than the other laser marking processes.
Laser Mark Type 7: Plastic Laser Mark: Many plastics will change color providing a permanent high contrast marking, with no measurable depth when exposed to the laser. Many dark plastics, like black acetal, will laser mark white. Many white or clear plastics, like polycarbonate, will laser mark dark.