Looking for a laser marking machine? Check out our 2019 buyer's guide to the 10 best laser marking systems. Includes an overview of the different technologies.
Much like the recent transformation we’ve seen within the 3D printing market, subtractive manufacturing technologies are also becoming much more accessible to a broader audience. Instead of building an object in a layer-by-layer fashion, these laser-based methods are able to integrate or engrave graphics into a workpiece, usually made from plastic, metal, or wood. While these subtractive technologies may seem identical on the surface, laser marking offers distinct abilities over more well-known methods, such as laser engraving and laser cutting.
Put simply, laser marking is a process that marks or labels the surface of a workpiece using a low-powered laser beam. The technique is commonly used to apply barcodes, logos, QR codes, and other types of identification into materials like stainless steel and titanium.
It can be a difficult task understanding how these various processes work and how laser marking separates itself from laser engraving and laser etching. On top of that, trying to find the optimal laser marking machine for your product development needs can prove to be an even more daunting experience.
To help you sort through the most popular entry-level laser marking machines on the market, we’ve sifted through the interweb to bring you ten of the best and more affordable. Our Buyer’s Guide also includes an introduction to the technology, how it differs from similar processes, as well as the benefits of using laser marking for various applications.
If you want to learn more about laser marking technology, you can skip ahead to read an overview of the process, followed by a brief summary of the benefits and limitations. Otherwise, keep scrolling to learn about the best and most affordable laser marking systems on the market.
|Laser Marking Machine||Laser Power||Laser Wavelength||Marking Area (mm)||Marking Speed||Price (USD)||Check Price|
|MCWlaser 20W Portable Desktop Fiber Laser Marker||20W||1064nm||110 x 110||9000 mm/s||$4,380|
|Mophorn 30W Fiber Laser Machine||30W||1064nm||150 x 150||8000 mm/s||$4,599|
|VEVOR 20W Fiber Laser Machine||20W||1064nm||110 x 110||7000 mm/s||$4,699|
|TEN-HIGH Portable Fiber Laser Marking Machine||30W||1065 nm||–||≤9000 mm/s||$5,199|
|Triumph Fiber Laser Marking Machine||30W||1064nm||210 x 210||9000 mm/s||$6,550|
|DIHORSE Desktop Fiber Laser Marking Machine||30W||1064nm||200 x 200||7000 mm/s||$6,600|
|FiberCube 3802 Series||>10 kW||1064nm||–||–||$14,950|
|Control Laser InstaMark||20-50W||–||304 x 431 x 178||1250 characters/s||$28,900 - $41,900|
|Epilog FiberMark 24||20-50W||–||610 x 305||–||~$35.000|
|Rofin EasyMark||10 - 50W||1070nm||180 x 180||10 mm/s||–|
One of the most affordable and compact laser marking systems on the market is the MCWlaser 20W, a portable laser marker that is surprisingly versatile considering the cost. This machine has a fully modular design, which includes a separate laser generator and lifter, enabling users to work with larger materials and more complicated surfaces. The manufacturer boasts that the advanced digital high-speed scanning galvanometer allows for quick speed and exceptional stability.
Priced at under $4,500, the MCWlaser 20W is one of the cheapest laser marking systems we found on the market. Despite that, it still has a relatively powerful control system, a touchscreen interface, and other features that promote versatility and full user control. However, one reviewer on Amazon stated that the user manual is a bit lackluster and difficult to understand. However, once it’s finally up and running, this desktop-sized laser marker appears to perform quite well! It’s able to mark on a wide range of materials, including aluminum, copper, gold, silver, and more.
As one of the most affordable laser marking systems on our list, the Mophorn Fiber Laser Machine is an appealing entry-level option for someone how needs a compact but capable machine. Equipped with a 30W laser and 150 x 150mm marking area, this desktop-sized hardware is capable of marking both metals and plastics. This machine is compatible with file formats from popular software programs such as CorelDRAW, AutoCAD, and Photoshop.
The manufacturer states that its laser marking machine is ideal for use with jewelry, auto parts, electronic components, kitchenware, and more. Basically, if you need to integrate small but precise markings into your product, such as a serial number, date, or barcode, take a look at the Mophorn Fiber Laser Machine.
On the more affordable end of the spectrum, the VEVOR 20W Fiber Laser Machine is a blue fashion fiber laser machine that offers 20W laser power and a 110 x 110 mm marking size. Other features include an adequate 7000 mm/s marking speed and a controllable marking depth between 0.01 to 0.5 mm.
Priced at $4,699, this compact laser marking machine is a viable option for those who want to mark their workpieces without breaking the bank. And, like the other systems featured in our guide, the VEVOR is compatible with a wide range of metal and plastic materials. With it, users can mark products and components with serial numbers, barcodes, production dates, and more, all at a relatively affordable cost.
Looking for a high-quality and compact laser marking machine with a little flair? The TEN-HIGH Portable Fiber Laser Marking Machine comes in four different colors, which is nice, but it also boasts some impressive performance-based features as well. This system is said to have a marking speed that is three to five times faster than typical YAG and DP semiconductor marking machines.
The manufacturer has also equipped its portable laser marker with a high-quality field mirror that generates an excellent beam quality, allowing for precision marking. Users also have full control over the marking depth, which ranges between 0.01mm-0.5mm. The TEN-HIGH Portable Fiber Laser Marking Machine has a service life of more than 100,000 hours and seems to be quite easy to set up. A couple of reviewers on Amazon stated that the system worked remarkably well with stainless steel and other metal materials.
If you’re looking for a more robust and intuitive system, the Triumph Fiber Laser Marking Machine appears to be a great choice for small businesses and manufacturing firms. It has a comprehensive workflow that includes a touch interface and powerful control system. Thanks to its modular design and separated laser generator and lifter, users can modify their machine to either have a 110 x 100mm or 210 x 210mm marking area.
The Triumph Fiber Laser Marking Machine is compatible with a range of metal materials, including aluminum, copper, gold, and silver. The manufacturer claims that it’s also equipped with an advanced digital high-speed scanning galvanometer that provides high speed and exceptional stability. It even comes with a rotary attachment for cylinder engraving, making it an all-around versatile machine. As one customer puts it in their Amazon review: “The cost savings alone vs machining the numbers will pay for the machine. It pretty much marks everything we machine except white plastics. It will mark anodized aluminum, stainless steels, PEEK, Ultem, Polycarb with ease.”
Similar to the system offered by Triumph, the DIHORSE Desktop Fiber Laser Marking Machine is a comprehensive laser marking machine with a 200 x 200mm working area and a long-lasting laser module life of over 100,000 hours. It has a 30W galvanometer fiber laser that enables users to mark or etch workpieces at a fast pace. The manufacturer claims that the laser marking system is capable of marking various tools, metal parts, jewelry, barcodes, serial numbers, and more on metal and industrial-grade polymers.
One of the distinct benefits of owning this machine seems to be the customer service and support that comes with it. Not only do users get lifetime technical support, but the entire machine is under a one-year warranty. In fact, most of the reviews on Amazon praised the customer service offered from the DIHORSE team. The manufacturer has shared a video of the DIHORSE Desktop Fiber Laser Marking Machine on Youtube, which you can watch below:
The FiberCube is another professional-grade laser marking and laser engraving system that is both compact and versatile. This machine is equipped with controllable pulse rates that can be adjusted from a continuous wave to a single pulse, which offers the ability to perform marking, engraving, or cutting jobs.
According to the manufacturer, this system is ideal for a wide range of laser marking applications, including flat surfaces, step-and-repeat laser marking, as well as coordinated rotary motion. It’s also incredibly fast, capable of marking up to 200 characters per second. All in all, if you’re a looking for a professional system that is multi-faceted and easy to use, the LaserStar FiberCube might be the right laser marking machine for you.
Speaking of versatility, few laser marking systems offer adaptability quite like the professional-grade InstaMark. With this desktop-sized machine, users can switch between a Q-Switched Fiber laser and MOPA Fiber laser, making it possible to switch from a Class I/II laser system to a Class IV laser system. This makes it possible to mark nearly any material with alpha-numerics, graphics, and barcodes at up to 1,250 characters per second.
Compatible materials include stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, ceramics, and plastics. It’s ideal for small businesses and manufacturing services that require high-quality marking applications but don’t have space for an industrial machine.
The Epilog FiberMark 24 is a professional Fiber laser system with a hefty 610 x 305 mm engraving area, industrial-grade components, and a variety of features. According to Epilog, this machine is its first laser marking system to offer a flying-optic fiber laser system, an approach where the workpiece remains stationary and the mirrors are moved across the X and Y axes. Since the motors are always moving a fixed mass, the laser system is ultimately easier to predict and control.
This system is definitely best suited for professional use by small businesses and manufacturers. It includes an array of interesting features like adjustable speed and power, an emergency stop button, raster/vector color mapping and more. Another selling point for the Epilog FiberMark 24 seems to be the ease of use. The manufacturer states that this system is equipped with an easy to maintain fiber laser source, as well as a drop-down front loading door and removable back exhaust plate. It’s available with a 20, 30, or 50-watt laster, and is compatible with most metal and plastic materials.
Manufactured in Germany, the Rofin EasyMark is a professional-grade laser marking system that offers a sizable 180 x 180 mm working area and an intriguing design. It features an all-glass lifting door that grants full access to the marking chamber when open, and full protection of the user when closed. Focused on modularity, this machine can be equipped with a z-axis, as well as a variety of optics and camera solutions. As for the laser source, this machine ranges from 10 to 50 W in power, and has an air-cooling system to ensure optimal performance.
As we stated in the introduction, laser marking can best be described as a process that marks or labels a material using a focused laser beam. When the laser interacts with the surface of a material, it is able to alter the properties or appearance to display a pre-determined design.
These designs are integrated into the material with a process called discoloration, which takes place as the low-powered laser beam moves slowly across the working area. Unlike processes like laser cutting, discoloration makes it possible to create high-contrast marks without disrupting the actual material.
Basically, the laser provides heat to the material, causing oxidation under the surface and turning the material black. With metal materials, low temperatures are applied to anneal the surface. Again, with laser marking, designs can be implemented into a workpiece while the surface is left fully intact.
While laser engraving technology is technically considered to be a subset of laser marking, there are certain distinctions that separate these techniques from one another. Laser marking is less commonly used, but at the same time, it’s also become increasingly popular in the medical device industry for stainless steel and titanium parts.
The primary difference between laser marking and engraving/etching seems to how much of the surface of the material is removed or altered. Laser marking will simply alter the surface of a workpiece, while laser engraving will carve the graphic or design out of the surface. Since laser marking doesn’t actually change the material properties or integrity, it’s ultimately better-suited for safety-critical parts.
There are a wide range of techniques that are used for different marking applications, the most common being engraving, staining, removing, annealing, and foaming. Each method offers distinct advantages and disadvantages that are contingent on the selected material and the task at hand.
Now that we’ve offered a bit of insight into what laser marking actually is, let’s take a look at some of the most popular options for entry-level users and professionals.
Depending on the selected material and application, there are a handful of different laser marking methods that can help you achieve high-quality contrast marks on the surface of your workpieces. Here’s a quick overview of the different marking techniques and what each has to offer:
There are a few advantages that laser marking offers over other fabrication techniques. For starters, the process is ideal for producing high-precision markings on a wide range of materials. Even for the most intricate and complex graphics, laser marking can typically handle small-scale shapes and one-point fonts without any issues.
With the laser marking process, users also have the ability to optimize their overall workflow. This is because laser marking machines provide exceptionally high processing speeds, increasing productivity and reducing costs.
In addition to these speeds, laser marking systems are generally compatible with an incredible range of materials and applications. By taking the materials and applications into account, users can modify the laser source and other features to enhance the marking performance even further.
Another major benefit of the laser marking process is that it is permanent, and also highly resistant to external effects like acid, abrasion, and heat. When the perfect parameter settings are dialed in, materials can be marked without incurring any damage to the surface.
These are just some of the primary advantages to laser marking technology, but this process is also hindered by a few limitations that should also be taken into account.
Although the price of laser marking systems have been steadily decreasing as the technology become more accessible, most options are still relatively expensive. In the long-term, having a laser marking machine will potentially reduce production costs, but the initial investment will prove quite costly.
These systems are equipped with pricey components like beam expanders and focusing lenses, not to mention the materials you’ll need to purchase to create your workpieces. Another factor to keep in mind is the need for a protective shielding system, which also plays a role in the steep price of laser marking systems.
Outside of the cost, laser marking systems are also limited to moving on a two-dimensional plane. Since it can only scan on the X and Y, it lacks the ability to process materials that have a high hardness or a low ignition point. This is a factor that could drive potential users towards more traditional methods, which tend to provide a more human touch that reaches beyond the two-dimensional plane.
License: The text of "10 Best Laser Marking Machines in 2019" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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