Marking polymer materials using laser energy has been commonplace for many years and has evolved to produce better marks, more rapidly and with more flexibility. The growth in laser marking applications is driven by an increasing need for parts identification and traceability, both during manufacturing and in their finished form. Moreover, compared to traditional ink based technologies, laser marking provides the following benefits:
Fast, Programmable (milliseconds per character)
Reduced supply inventory (no inks, pads, stamps, solvents, drying process)
Today 90% of laser marking applications are "non-aesthetic" such as bar code, expiration date, identification number, and specifications, particularly for parts having high liability in the case of failure. The other 10% are aesthetic applications that mainly consist of company logos and product differentiation. Anti-counterfeiting challenges represent new opportunities for laser marking as well.
Polymers that can be marked by laser are those that absorb laser light and convert it into thermal energy. Unfortunately many virgin polymers do not mark well. For this reason, the addition of additives capable of absorbing laser light energy is needed in many cases. The selection of the right light absorber is critical for reaching a desired effect or contrast but generally the requirements for laser marking additives are:
They must not change the appearance or physical aspect of the part.
They must absorb enough laser energy to raise the local temperature of the polymer to a sufficient level to achieve charring or foaming.
BASF Catalysts LLC Mark-it™ Laser Marking Pigment
BASF Catalysts Mark-it laser marking pigment facilitates better markings and faster marking speeds in a variety of polymers when used with YAG laser marking systems.
Because most polymers do not mark well with a YAG laser alone, additives that absorb laser energy are needed to create the desired markings. Mark-it pigment absorbs laser light and provides the necessary conversion of laser energy for most YAG laser marking applications.
Mark-it pigment was the first to receive US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for use in the laser marking process using a YAG laser to generate dark and light marks.