CO2 laser engraving (also known as etching) is based on a mixture of carbon dioxide and specific other elements that are stimulated electrically. The laser beam is then guided to the application surface by a series of mirrors and the heat produces a permanent mark. CO2 laser etching is great for marking on glass, paper, plastic and foils.
Laser engraving can be accomplished by high-performance CO2 lasers with speeds of up to 2,100 characters/second used to address high-speed and high-volume marking applications, for glass and plastic packaging substrates in the pharmaceutical, tobacco and beverage industries. Light Duty CO2 lasers are also widely available and can efficiently handle simple coding applications across a wide variety of substrates. These provide small and medium-sized operations with the benefits of laser engraving at affordable cost.
CO2 Laser Engraving Process
A CO2 laser engraver machine involves a laser and a controller, and the surface on which the etching will take place. The laser beam itself is the engraving tool; the controller directs the beam to trace the desired engraved patterns onto the surface. The controller determines the direction, intensity, speed of movement, and width of the laser beam aimed at the surface.
Laser engraving technology is used on production lines where lasers engrave numbers and letters to print dates, expiration codes, and lot numbering of products travelling along the line.
CO2 Laser Marking Effects include:
Colour change as a result of a chemical reaction between CO2 laser and the substrate.
Engraving of the surface, e.g. foaming into PET plastic or etching into glass.
Ablation or colour removal of the surface coating to reveal alternate colour underneath.
Carbonization or controlled burning of wood or board-based materials.
Melting different plastic materials to achieve either a raised or concave effect.