The ideal laser technology for the user is primarily determined on the basis of the quality requirements for the marking result, the marking depth where applicable, and the processing time available. The appropriate laser technology for the application can be determined with a free sample marking in the ACI application laboratory.
Laser marking is clearly superior to other marking processes thanks to a number of advantages. First, laser marking is a process that can generally be implemented without mechanical intervention. Since the tool is a laser beam with no mass, there is no need to clamp the semi-finished product to be marked, substantially reducing set-up time.
Another advantage of the process is that it generally does not require auxiliary materials or other consumables, which keeps maintenance requirements and investment costs low in the short and long term. The laser marking process merely changes the material properties, meaning that all types of marking are activated working from the properties of the material to be marked.
Laser systems are also a largely wear-free production system. The amount of mechanical work performed is low, which reduces the likelihood of faults and therefore extends maintenance intervals.
Last but not least, this marking process offers extremely high flexibility. Information can be changed quickly in CAD systems and immediately applied to the material that is to be marked. Whereas it was previously also necessary to manufacture expensive dies with the right contours, it is now possible to scan in any required contour using the laser beam.
Engraving with a laser involved substantial ablation of the surface of the workpiece. The full average output of the laser is concentrated in its focus, which results in an extremely high density of output or energy. The interaction with the material is defined in terms of the fluence. This measures the energy density required to produce a change in the material. The high concentration of energy causes the material to heat up very rapidly, resulting in expansion which causes material to be ejected from the gap produced by the interaction. This enables precise removal of material, which in turn produces an extremely robust and long-lasting marking.
Laser trimming is a process in which electronic components and circuits are balanced and trimmed via laser-induced changed. In general, individual components – e.g. thick-film or thin-film resistors in a circuit – are modified with a laser such that the individual resistance value or the entire circuit is balanced. Proper guidance of this form of laser trimming process is only possible with a suitable laser system that can be controlled with pulse precision via a connection to the measuring technology. The laser system is combined with an imaging system to very precisely position the laser beam.
In practice, various cutting forms are used for trimming. The frequently used serpentine cut features a large trim range and provides substantial benefits when used to replace mechanical trimmers. In addition to the smaller size and reduced cost in comparison to trimming potentiometers, laser-trimmed resistors boast improved long-term stability. Common trimming applications include aligning the characteristic curves of electronic sensors, adjusting proximity sensors to match their nominal switching distances or linearising measuring amplifiers in medical and measuring technology.