Marking machinery consists of a broad range of equipment used to create designs, images, logos, identification codes or other markings on parts and products. Part marking can be used to value products, deter counterfeiting, ease the returning of products and create increased customer recognition.
Most businesses in the automotive, medical and aerospace industries refuse to even consider purchasing inadequately marked products from suppliers as the necessity for accurate product identification grows. Many common everyday products such as credit and debit cards, packaging and storage boxes, electronic and consumer parts etc. are marked by marking machine manufacturers.
While metal marking remains a common marking process, marking machinery is able to mark other materials, such as paper, plastic, wood, leather, glass, fabric and textiles. Jewelry, writing utensils, greeting cards, wood trim, cables and wiring and glass sculptures represent the wide range of materials on which marking systems are used. Marking machinery can also produce marks for tracking parts within the whole manufacturing process, making the marks an invaluable element in quality assurance.
Marking systems are made up of the machines used to emboss, etch, stamp or print designs on many different surfaces. They employ many techniques and marking tools including: laser markers, press markers, roll markers, dot peen machines, stylus markers, and nameplate markers. Other marking tools include presses such as stylus marking devices, engraving machines, roll or rotary marking devices, hot stamping machines, numbering machines, embossing machines and etching machines.
These machines often employ specialized marking tools like steel stamps and scribers. Printing machines, like industrial inkjet printers are also used for marking the surface of flat products. Read More…
A variety of techniques are used in the process of part marking to create designs on products, the most popular of which are laser marking, plasma etching and hot stamping. Laser marking is an environmentally friendly process that utilizes a high energy beam of laser radiation to directly mark the surface of materials. The types of laser marking are classified according to the length of the beam and this length is determined by the properties of the material being marked and how well the material responds to laser energy.
Plasma etching is divided into two categories: vacuum type, the most common process, and normal-pressure type. In the vacuum type, plasma is generated from gases, such as oxygen, under vacuum pressure to activate the molding surfaces. This type is the most effective for the purpose of surface modification but is inferior in workability, since it must be a batch process and can cause deterioration of the moldings if the processing time is too long.
There are also two different methods of hot stamping. In using a stamp press, a metallic stamp or die is heated with a hot plate and presses a stamping foil onto the surface of the part to be marked. Hot stamping with a rubber press is very similar to that in which a stamp press is used, except that a heat-resistant rubber or silicone plate is used instead.
Some marking machines use other methods to apply marks to products. Embossing machines mark ductile material like plastic and leather with a 3 dimensional image using heat and pressure. This imprints product information on the surface of the material causing permanent deformation. Credit cards are marked with this process, resulting in upraised numbers and letters.
Engraving machines are similar, but they are able to cut grooves into much harder surfaces like metals. Jewelry is processed with engraving machines. Another type of marking device is a numbering machine which is used to print consecutive numbers on papers, mostly for legal documentation purposes. Marks on papers are often printed on industrial inkjet printers, a larger version of printers used at home and in the office. For 2 dimensional marks that need to be printed on 3 dimensional products, pad printing machines are used.
These printers use silicone pads to transfer images from a printing plate to a product’s surface. They are used to mark products like electronics, toys and medical equipment. For low volumes, steel stamps are used to mark products by hitting or pressing a marked stamp into material causing an indentation. These include hand stamps and stamp marking kits, which are done by hand, and press stamps, which are components in a stamping machine typically powered by hydraulic or pneumatic power. Scribers are components of any machine that ingrains a mark on material. They are thinly shaped and can be made of metal, diamond or lasers.
Marking machine manufacturers produce a variety of machines and models. The proper selection of a marking machinery system depends on a variety of factors, including industrial application, product material and product volume. For each marking machinery choice there are positive points and drawbacks. Hand stamping is cheap and easy to implement as it does not require expensive machinery or highly skilled operators, but it is labor intensive and inconsistent. If mark placement and alignment are important factors, or if the marking if for a large volume of products, it might be worth investing in a marking machine system.
Chemical etching is also inexpensive, but it too provides inconsistent results so it would only be advisable to use it on a less precise product or material. Inkjet printers are much faster but are an impermanent and environmentally hazardous solution. Presses can make fast, permanent marks, but they are not very flexible and are time consuming to set up.
They also cannot be used on hard or fragile parts and can be dangerous to operate. Before determining which marking machine is appropriate for an application, consider the cost of spare parts of the marking machinery, the difficulty of maintenance, the size of the marking system and the degree of difficulty of integrating the system with other production systems already in place.