Buying a marking device? What you need to consider?
What to consider when buying marking technology and a laser?
Buying a marking solution can be confusing when there are so many options available on the market. When narrowing down to lasers, it is still confusing since there are many vendors on the market. Well, how should the buyer know what criterias to look at? This blog explains some of the main points to help evaluating different vendors. Laser marking device is an investment that has an estimated life cycle from 7 to even 11 years or more. Therefore, it is good to understand some main points to sort out the absolute best solution for your marking purpose.
Some vendors only provide the laser marking device but nothing else. This means you have bunch of questions on the table. How do I integrate the unit in my production? How do I operate the laser safely? How to arrange the software integration? How about training and commissioning? Is the laser marker part of an automated production line or cell? There are many specific questions to be solved when buying a laser marking unit. The buyer should discuss and agree on different practicalities before deciding from whom to buy the marking solution from.
A very first thing to keep in mind – a good practice is to evaluate the marking quality and capabilities of the technology. Tell the solution provider your requirements about the marking content and quality. Also cycle time requirements are important to disclose. Explain your application as detailed as possible already at this early stage. You should request the marking device provider to perform some tests to your own material. If the application is related to marking on-the-fly, then the test should simulate the real-life situation as well as possible. Only then you know, if the marking has a good enough contrast and quality for your purpose.
As an outcome from the test markings, you should receive the samples back with a test report. The test report should include general comments about the potential challenges of the markings. Also, a very crucial information is what type of laser was used in the test? After that it is easier and safer to start discussing commercial details when you know that the technology has been verified to your purposes.
Software and integration
When considering to buying new laser marking devices, the most likely questions would be; how does it work and is it easy to use? With laser marking systems, the core of everything is the software how to operate the laser system. It will define if the system is a user-friendly marking solution. Ask for demonstration to understand the capabilities of the software and how that works together with the laser. Request to see different features, such as how to create marking templates, and how to set laser parameters for different materials etc.
No solution is an island. The ability to integrate the marking solution to the production environment is as important as being able to mark the product or component. Integration enables smooth production process. Very often the marking content already exist in the company ERP or in other databases. Therefore, the vendor should be also able to support the integration to the existing manufacturing environment. Software integration interfaces supports automated manufacturing and enables smooth and efficient marking process.
Last, but not least, this is the main topic in operating safely with laser technology. There are a lot of discussions about how harmful the laser radiation can be for the user. This could potentially be the case if not knowing how to use laser marking technology and what things to take into account when marking. The vendor responsibility is always to be able to inform the buyer upfront about the laser safety basics. The laser safety class should be mentioned, and if not, ask for it. Laser devices are divided into different safety classes by numbering them so that the hazardousness of the device increases as the class number increases. So, if the laser class is not class 1, what does the vendor recommend doing to make the laser marking solution class 1 solution?
Practical recommendations are helpful and important from the customer point of view. And to ease the customer experience, the vendor should be able to provide it themselves to the customer or through a partner. The minimum requirement would be in getting a laser safety training when starting using laser marking technology. Utilizing laser marking technology is safe when operators are informed and instructed properly and/or when the safety housing for the laser marker is taken care of.
We hope that some of these main points helps your journey towards utilizing laser marking technology. Laser marking is a very efficient way of marking your products and components when considering the points mentioned in this blog post.
If you have any questions regarding the blog topic, do not hesitate to contact me or our laser marking specialists. We are happy to assist you!
Blog is written by Jan Mäkelä Cajo´s Sales Director, who knows well the challenges that the companies in manufacturing industry are facing with product traceability.