Color Contrasting Marks on Stainless Steel with Fiber Laser Automation

The LP9000F series of fiber lasers are idea for placing color contrasting marks on stainless, growing an oxide, or color contrasting of marks (generally black or brown on stainless steel). Let our system engineers show you how to create these color contrasting marks for product identification, track and trace, serial numbers, warranty and counterfeit protection.

What Does Color Contrasting Marks on Stainless Steel look like?

color contrasting marks on stainless steel 

  • Number of Passes- Is the number of times the laser beam is passed over the same area.
  • Frequency or kHz– Is how quickly the laser is cycled on. This is often referred to as pulse length. As Frequency or kHz are increased to the 230 range and above the marks starts to disappear. Additionally, because this stainless was very thin .02″, we started at higher frequencies in the 170 kHz range to prevent heat transfer into the stainless. For very thin metals, can cause warping, for thicker metal we would start marks in the 50kHz range.
  • Speed- Means how quickly are we moving the laser beam across the stainless is shown on the other axis and clearly demonstrates an effect on the stainless color marks.

The LP9000F series of lasers allows for control of these features to create precisely the type and color contrasting of marks required.

Why Color Contrasting Marks on Stainless with Fiber Laser Automation?

Color Contrasting Marks on Stainless for Consumer Protection

  • Protection of consumers because contrasting color marks can provide instructions and details to consumers regarding operations of equipment allowing for the most effective, efficient and safe use of products.
  • Regulatory requirements, as some industries and products have strict regulatory requirements for product identification for laser contrasting color marks is a fast efficient method to meet these requirements.
  • Permanent laser automation provides for a permanent indelible color contrasting of marks on the product, which cannot be removed without destruction of the parts or products
  • Warranty and counterfeit protection. Since the contrasting color marks are non removable or indelible, they provide excellent protection for the manufacturer against counterfeit products and false warranty claims. The warranty stamp can be laser marked and reported to data bases for track and trace reasons which can also be used to verify origin and date of manufacture verifying warranty & counterfeit claims.
  • Eliminate of inks, chemicals, and solvents creating an eco-friendly green manufacturing environment.
  • Reduce manufacturing costs in several ways:
    • Changes in contrasting color marks requirements are handled with changes in art work imported into the laser system no need for down time to change over marking tools so no lost production labor.
    • No supplies to purchase, reducing operations costs significantly.
    • No shut downs for clean up or equipment maintenance.

color contrasting marks showing 2D bar code

Materials that are known to be contrasting color markable include: stainless steels, titanium, chrome plate, and niobium. Material grades and surface finishes can have an impact on the color contrasting marking process, as can the thickness of the material. Brushed surfaces are more difficult to mark with a consistent color contrasting, due to the magnitude of the roughness in terms of peak to trough being significantly larger than the depth of oxides being generated. Polished surfaces have been found to be far more consistent in terms of contrasting color marks.
As the contrasting  color marking process is thermally driven, the material thickness can have a significant impact on the process. Thick materials provide a generous bulk heat-sinking capability, but thin materials can suffer from a number of thermal effects. Heat buildup can result in product distortion and progressive contrasting in color. For thin materials, careful control of heat input and heat-sinking need to be considered to optimize the results.
Another alternative is gray scale, which with stainless steel should perhaps more appropriately be referred to as brown scale marks. As an alternative to color marking under certain conditions the level of oxide on the surface can be controlled, giving an impressive range of shades of browns and golds.
Initial work in this area identified that titanium was a material that was relatively easy to mark and gave a vibrant range of contrasting  color marks. However, the commercial opportunities for such applications are somewhat limited, as the use of titanium in the consumer goods market is limited to jewelry and high-end premium watches. The use of stainless steel is more widespread in products such as cell phones, cameras, and personal HiFis. Using a high-repetition-rate fiber laser, a surprising contrasting color palette can be achieved This gives the potential for adding value through logo enhancement and more general product customization.

About Worldwide Laser Service Corporation

Founded was in July of 1986 in Phoenix AZ 85009 and currently with headquarters in Gilbert AZ 85233. Worldwide Laser Service Corporation [WLSC] is the leading laser automation house in N. America with a mission to reduce manufacturing costs, protect products and consumers, and provide eco-friendly green manufacturing environments though the use of integrated laser systems, we look forward to hearing from you and working on your laser application. Click here for Financing options.