Placing Second-Generation Laser-Marking Technology into Production: Expanding Design Options for Automotive Labeling 1999-01-0985
Second-generation laser-marking technology (SGL) has proven to be a viable alternative to printed and adhesive labels for automotive products made from thermoplastic resins. Whether used for interior or underhood applications, virtually any thermoplastic automotive component that has a marking on it can be improved with this technology. Permanent, complex markings can be created that contain greater amounts of information on surfaces with complex curves. Furthermore, products now can be marked at any time in the manufacturing process, including at or near shipping, in a variety of languages and/or with indexed information to assist inventory control for automotive OEMs or suppliers. This technology helps reduce scrap rates due to poor printing or misplaced labels, and does not detract from the recycling of thermoplastic products. The greatest benefits of SGL are derived when the technology is used by design engineers early in the concept and planning stages of new product development. By doing so, optimal materials can be selected, the correct laser equipment identified, and processing parameters established. This paper will discuss how laser-marking technology is best used as an automotive design tool, the equipment required to place this technology into use, and the implementation of process parameters that will help makers of automotive components and assemblies derive the greatest system and cost benefits.