This post offers an overview of laser direct part marking, the reasons to favour Data Matrix Codes over any other encoding mechanism, how much time is required to uniquely identify a part and a quick look at laser safety. All of these topics are addressed in more detail in Laser Marking Guide for Plant Managers and Other Non-tech Types.
Laser Direct Part Marking as a Means to Improve Batch Processes
We live in an age when data is influencing decision-making more than ever before. Best decisions come from data that is relevant and timely. You know the adage: “what is not measured cannot be improved.” Statistical analysis is a great way to gain a better understanding of even the most complex processes. But, how do you measure batch processes that produce undifferentiated products? Serialization is a good way to get discrete data from processes, such as smelting, die-casting, extruding, stamping and hot and cold rolling. Using a laser marking system to directly mark on the part a unique identifier (UID) is probably the best way to implement a traceability system.
An Overview of Laser Direct Part Marking (DPM)
The advantages of laser marking are numerous, but those that appeal to our customers the most is their low maintenance, long useful life, they use no consumables and industrial laser markers are easy to automate.
Laser markers differentiate themselves from competing technologies by their marking speed, which enables the engraving of more elaborate marks. Their high-definition markings provide better legibility than other DPM technologies. Which is important when scanning with an automated or manual imager.
Laserax pulsed fiber laser markers use an yterbium doped source and they have been developed specifically with the intent to mark different metals and their alloys, Aluminum, copper, stainless steel, lead, magnesium, tin and many others can be engraved by laser.
Why You Should Use Data Matrix Code Instead of Ordinary Barcode
A Data Matrix Code (DMC) is a way to encode information in a very compact format.
For example, the previous sentence can easily be encoded in a 1 sq. in. Data Matrix Code. But that’s not all: even if up to 60% of the 2D barcode is damaged, you would still be able to decode the complete message. Try that with regular barcode!
How Fast Is a Typical Industrial Laser Marking Machine by Laserax
Let’s keep the previous example going. A 1 sq. in. Data Matrix Code can be engraved on aluminum in as little as 9 seconds. If you want to add the human readable version: “Data Matrix Code (DMC) is a way to encode information in a very compact format.” You just have to add another 2.5 seconds.
If the time you have available for laser marking is more constrained consider the following example. A 10 x 10 mm Data Matrix Code can be engraved in aluminum in less than 2 seconds! Such speed makes the marking on-the-fly of extrusion as they are coming out of the extruder a walk in the park.
Health and Safety
High-power lasers, when they are embedded in a properly designed laser safety enclosure, are harmless and require no personal protective equipment (PPE), no specific training (except for servicing the laser) and no special safety procedure. More information on laser safety is available on our blog.
Laserax’s laser marking and cleaning system is the best solution for plant managers who strive to keep their environment health and safety risk to a minimum.
We have established that industrial laser markers can be used to safely engrave unique identifiers on many metals. Such identification is often a requirement of end-users to improve traceability and accountability. It can also be useful to you for improving internal process control. Laser direct part marking combined with the high density Data Matrix Code is the ideal combination for most industrial traceability systems.
For more information on this topic or to explore other considerations about implementing a traceability system in your plant, download our Laser Marking Guide for Plant Manager and Other Non-Tech Types.