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Maker's Mark

Colorfabb Launches Laser-Markable PLA

Picture of Emmett Grames
by Emmett Grames
Oct 10, 2019
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Ever wanted to add a nice, crisp logo, a barcode or graphic to your prints? Colorfabb Laser Marking PLA has you covered. Let's take a look!

Colorfabb Laser Marking PLA has just been released, adding new possibilities to FDM 3D printing around the globe.

At first glance, the material looks like any other PLA. For the most part, print settings and material qualities should be the same. However, Colorfabb has mixed in a laser-sensitive additive that will work with a range of laser wavelengths. This additive allows the material to be laser marked after printing. This means that a printed part can be transferred to a laser etching/marking machine, and have a 2D image, text or graphic printed directly on its surface.

While it is possible to cut or etch 3D printed parts in a variety of materials, it was not previously possible to mark in the same way as on wood (except perhaps with a “wood” PLA — but this has not yet been reliably documented). The difference is that instead of melting or removing material, marking will only discolor the surface.

For all owning both a 3D printer and a laser engraver, this material provides a new option for more professional parts and products.

Priced similarly to other specialty filaments, a 0.75-kg spool of Colorfabb Laser Marking PLA will cost €49.95.

Settings and Specifications

According to the information available from Colorfabb, the settings for printing their Laser Marking PLA are very similar to other more generic PLA blends, with print temperatures between 195-220 °C and a recommended bed temperature of 50-60 °C. Colorfabb also advertises a large list of consumer printers on which they claim to have successfully test printed this material.

Additionally, it is noted that the Laser Marking PLA is compatible with lasers having a wavelength between 980-1064 nm. While Colorfabb has successfully printed markings with fiber lasers and Nd:YAG lasers, they note that CO2 lasers are not compatible. Smaller “hobby” laser engravers using laser diodes are not mentioned.

Colorfabb states, “Markings are permanent, waterproof, wear and heat resistant, lightfast and resistant to chemicals” meaning that for end-use parts this could be a very appealing marking option.

The manufacturer’s specifications are as follows:

  • Print Temperature: 195 – 220 °C
  • Heated bed: 50 – 60 °C (not required)
  • Print Speed: 40 – 100 mm/s
  • Diameter: 1.75 or 2.85 mm
  • Tolerances: ± 0.005 mm
  • Compatible Laser Wavelengths: 980 – 1064 nm
  • Color: Light Grey

(Source: Colorfabb)

License: The text of "Colorfabb Launches Laser-Markable PLA" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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