Professional Engraving Tip — Spring 2013

Laser Settings and Marking Guidelines for AlumaMARK – Laser Markable  Aluminum

AlumaMARK – Laser Markable  Aluminum

AlumaMARK is an extraordinary aluminum that uses the heat of the laser to mark rather than etch. Correctly imaged AlumaMARK results in rich black positive graphics that feel smooth to the touch. You can create high contrast, easy-to-read graphics with superior resolution and high durability characteristics.

Here, we’d like to explore some guidelines for achieving consistent, high-quality images on AlumaMARK.

First, these are the basic characteristics:

  • AlumaMARK aluminum sheets are markable on one side.
  • We offer 3 finishes in .020 inch gauge.
    • Satin silver
    • Satin gold
    • Satin brass
  • Laser settings may vary according to the finish.

Second, focal power is important. AlumaMARK requires relatively low focal power.
What is it?

  • The amount of laser power applied at the point of beam contact.
  • Based on a combination of power and speed settings
    • The power setting determines the level of the beam wattage.
    • The speed setting determines how long the power is applied to a given point.

Recommended settings:

  • Power: The goal is a power level of 5 to 15 watts. So set the percentage of the laser’s rated power accordingly.  For example, on a 50-W laser, select a power setting of 10-30%.
  • Speed: Select a percent of speed in the 30-60% range.

Here are some results guidelines for more or less nominal power at the contact point:

  • Optimal: Dense black image and little to no relief in the imaged area. You also have maximized contrast, resolution, and durability performance.
  • Over Mark: Noticeable etching or relief of the image, and minimized image blackness especially when viewing the image area at an angle.
    • Cause: High power and slow speed, resulting in power too strong at the point of contact. The goal is to mark, not cut.
  • Under Mark: Brownish, grayish, faint, or nonexistent image, and possible image inconsistency due to uneven power delivery.
    • Cause: Low power and high speed, so there is not enough time for the beam to mark the AlumaMARK.

Third, you must also consider:

  • Image requirements
  • Production needs
  • Software
  • Laser capabilities
  • File resolution and quality
  • Type of lens
  • Focal length
  • Flatness of the AlumaMARK; make sure the sheet is held down
    • Why? It is manufactured from coil aluminum. Each sheet is flattened at the factory prior to packaging. Due to the memory of the metal, some sheets may exhibit a slight bow when you receive them.

Fourth, here is a final word:

Care must be taken with all laserable material. AlumaMARK has proven to be one of the best metals for ease of laser marking. Although AlumaMARK may take some trial marking to discover the best settings for your laser, these settings should work for most jobs.  Any variance in quality is most likely due to an issue with the art file.

That’s a lot to consider, so you must have some questions.  We’re here to help so let us know.

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