From aerospace production facilities to beverage bottling lines, laser marking systems are one of the most popular industrial coding technologies available today. Offering high coding speeds, uninterrupted operation, and low consumable costs, laser systems enable line operators across industries to maximize their operational efficiency.
Laser marking technologies—such as fiber laser systems and CO2 laser systems—are designed to create permanent markings on everything from aluminum bottles and steel automotive parts to glass bottles and construction materials. Although laser codes are designed to last an entire product lifecycle, there are times when laser marking removal becomes desirable in cases of:
- Human data error
- Unsatisfactory code appearance
- Product repurposing
Given that laser markings are meant to be permanent, laser marking removal can prove to be a difficult process. If you’re having issues with laser marking removal, continue reading to find the answers to some of the most common questions.
How Do I Perform Laser Marking Removal?
Unfortunately, laser marking removal is not easy. Industrial laser systems are designed to create long-lasting codes that are durable enough to last the entire product lifecycle. Consequently, laser marking removal requires some labor-intensive steps that differ from material to material.
Consider metal materials, for instance. Many people assume that if they want to remove laser markings from a metal part, they simply need to buff them out. However, unlike printed markings, laser markings alter the very surface that they’re applied on. Therefore, laser marking removal requires drastic action such as:
- Industrial filing
- Chemical removal via hydrochloric, sulfuric, or nitric acid
Similarly, markings on wood are removed through sanding, and markings on plastic are removed with soldering.
Of course, these removal actions can drastically affect the properties of these materials and render the part/packaging useless. As such, it’s important to have a full understanding of how laser marking removal will affect your materials before going this route.
Is Laser Marking Removal Worth the Effort?
As with so many questions in the coding and marking field, the answer is—it depends. Laser marking systems are popular across a range of industries and are used to mark everything from canned foods to automotive parts. Not only do these materials differ in cost, but they also differ in how the laser marking removal process affects their surface properties.
For example, if you are considering whether or not to remove lasered dates on a batch of metal cans, there is little-to-no chance that laser marking removal is worth the time and effort. In fact, the time investment alone will end up costing more money than replacing the cans would.
That said, there are cases in which removing laser markings is absolutely worth the time and effort. Jewelry pieces, for example, are clearly valuable enough to warrant laser marking removal as long as the removal process doesn’t damage the materials.
If Laser Marking Removal Isn’t Viable, What’s the Alternative?
There are ways that one can minimize laser marking mistakes and create a new marking in its place. Many beverage bottling/canning and food packaging lines, for example, will etch out misprints and place new markings in their place.
Of course, rework is only successful if the new code is completely legible and the old code is unreadable. Code legibility is an essential part of traceability and unsuccessful rework can place a product in violation of traceability best practices. Moreover, rework will naturally make your product/product packaging appear worse than it should to consumers. For producers of high-end cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and CBD/cannabis products, appearance is important, so rework may not be a viable option at all, unfortunately.
Tired of Reworks and Laser Marking Errors? Upgrade Your Marking Hardware With the Help of InkJet, Inc.
Laser marking removal is a tedious, labor-intensive process that often isn’t worth the time and effort it requires. Instead of investing in removal marking equipment, it’s more advantageous to outfit your line with a marking system that eliminates the possibility of coding mistakes in the first place.
Here at InkJet, Inc., we have helped companies across the industrial packaging and manufacturing world improve their coding processes for over 30 years. Offering a number of industrial laser systems as well as a range of continuous inkjet, thermal inkjet, and case coding printers, the team at InkJet, Inc. has the hardware and expertise needed to help you find the ideal coding solution to meet your needs. Call today to learn more.
For more information on how to improve the laser marking removal process, contact us online today or call 1(800) 280-3245.