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How to color laser engraving?

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Various colors are applied to different materials through a process called printing. Typically, this involves using UV printers to directly apply the colors onto the material’s surface. Alternatively, colors can be printed onto plastic film using UV DTF machines and then transferred onto the materials. However, recent technological advancements have introduced a new method known as laser color engraving. In the essay, we will provide a detailed introduction to this innovative technique.

How it works?

The process involves the interaction of a laser beam with the surface of metal, resulting in the formation of a semi-transparent oxide film on the metal surface. Light penetrates the oxide film at a specific angle, with some reflecting directly at the interface between the air and the oxide layer, creating direct reflection light. Another portion of the light refracts into the semi-transparent oxide layer, then refracts again into the air, forming refracted light. These two light components interfere with each other, causing some wavelengths to reinforce while others cancel out due to the interference phenomenon, thus creating various color effects.

By precisely controlling the laser’s energy density and temperature and consequently adjusting the thickness of the oxide film on the metal surface, different color laser marking effects can be achieved.

Laser Types Used:

In the world of laser color marking, two laser types are commonly used: diode lasers and fiber lasers. Diode lasers, known as continuous lasers, have advanced significantly in laser integration technology. With power levels now reaching up to 20W, 40W, or even 80W, they can create semi-transparent films on stainless steel surfaces. However, due to the somewhat unstable nature of diode lasers, the resulting colors may vary, posing challenges for achieving precise engraving effects. Xtool is renowned for this kind of laser machines

On the other hand, fiber lasers operate using pulsed light. By controlling stable electrical signals, fiber lasers ensure consistent laser energy output, offering a more reliable process. Within the realm of fiber lasers, MOPA fiber lasers (Master Oscillator Power Amplifier) machines excel. They provide precise control over pulse frequency and width, enabling adjustments to the laser’s power density and marking temperature for superior color marking effects. Commarker’s MOPA fiber laser engravers is a prime example of this technology.

ComMarker B4 JPT MOPA Fiber Laser Marking Machine

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ComMarker B4 -MOPA JPT MOPA fiber enables vibrant color marking on stainless steel and high contrastengraving on anodized aluminum. Not

0 rotary
D69 Rotary
D80 Rotary
Roller Rotary
MOPA 20W
MOPA 30W
MOPA 60W
MOPA 100W
110V
220V
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Suitable Materials

Currently, laser color marking is limited to certain metal materials. The most common is stainless steel, followed by titanium steel.

Operating Procedure

Unlike engraving and color filling, where a groove is engraved into the surface of the material and then filled with color, laser color engraving directly uses a laser engraver to engrave colors into the surface of stainless steel. We use ComMarker MOPA fiber laser engraver as a case demonstration

Step 1: Design the Engraving Pattern

The pattern can generally be downloaded from a special image library or designed using Photoshop.

Note: the image’s colors should not have gradients and should be of a single color.

Step 2: Convert the Pattern into a File Compatible with the Engraving Software

The designed pattern needs to be converted into a vector file, such as AI, before being imported into engraving software like EZCAD or LightBurn.

Step 3: Find the Engraving Parameters Corresponding to the Colors

Import a color grid template and engrave it on a same kind of material with same thickness as the one to be used for the final engraving.

Note: While conventional engraving typically uses a parameter database, color engraving parameters vary with different engraving machines. Small deviations in laser components can cause significant color changes, including the laser source, galvanometer, field lens, and their relative distances. Even the same machine can produce different results at different focal lengths, requiring users to find the correct color engraving parameters before engraving.

Step 4: Assign Corresponding Color Parameters to the Engraving Pattern

Import the designed engraving pattern and reassign parameters according to the color grid template to ensure that each part’s color matches the design as closely as possible.

Step 5: Start Engraving

You can now start the engraving process!

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Laser Color Engraving

Advantages

●Long-lasting Colors: Compared to UV color printing, laser color engraving results in more durable colors that are not easily wiped off.

●No Consumables: Laser engraving does not require consumables, reducing daily maintenance and material costs.

Disadvantages

●High Operation Difficulty: Laser color engraving technology is more complex and requires skilled technicians to operate. Finding the correct engraving parameters can take a considerable amount of time.

●Low Color Richness: Laser engraving may sometimes lack the color richness that UV printing can achieve.

Application Fields

Laser color engraving is widely used in various industrial fields such as advertising, product color marking, and gift customization. It also offers a new business opportunity for entrepreneurs to create exquisite customized color items for customers, such as pet tags, nameplates, jewelry, and more.

About David Lee

Hello, I'm David Lee, I'm a passionate and creative professional commercial Laser Engraver and marking specialist with a wealth of experience and a wide range of knowledge. Overthe past 10 years, I have focused on Laser Engraver and marking solutions for various commercial projects.l am sensitive to new technologies and design trends ,constantly seeking the best Laser Engraver and marking experience

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