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News » What’s the difference between traditional marking, pin marking, and laser marking?

What’s the difference between traditional marking, pin marking, and laser marking?


April 20, 2016


In our last article, we covered the four categories of marking depth. Today, we’re deconstructing the three marking technologies that can give you the mark you’re seeking.

Traditional Marking

These machines use heavy force to roll or press steel letters, numbers and trademarks indelibly into your parts.

Traditional marking machines such as roll markers and press markers are usually hydraulically or pneumatically powered. Because of the force generated, traditional marking requires precise part fixturing and support.

Pros and Cons of Traditional Marking

Traditionally marked letters and numbers are evenly spaced, accurately aligned and uniformly deep. Traditional marking is typically best for deep marking applications and/or high production rates. However, part variation, fixture and tooling changeover can increase the overall cycle time. Additionally, the tooling can be an expensive consumable.

Pin Marking

Pin marking is a pneumatic or electromechanically controlled carbide tip assembly that strikes the surface of a part in a succession of dots to create a permanent mark. Depending on the marking speed parameters, pin marking can create light, moderate or deep marks.

Pros and Cons of Pin Marking

Pin marking technology is computer controlled and allows for a great deal of flexibility. A vast range of font choices, logo creation, barcodes and other dynamic information can be marked on your parts using this technology.

With pin marking, parts must be stable but support is not as critical or costly as traditional marking. Consumable products and changeover time is minimal. However, pin marking can be the slowest and least cosmetically appealing of the marking technologies.

Laser Marking

Lasers are capable of marks that do not exert any type of overt force when marking parts. This is due to the chemical reaction caused by the heat from the laser beam interacting with the parts surface. The mark is a result of the material properties being altered and changed in appearance. Lasers can remove material very efficiently if need be and allow for very exact and complex designs to be marked.

Pros and Cons of Laser Marking

Traditional and pin marking systems typically only mark metal parts. Lasers can mark metal as well as many types of plastic, ceramic, rubber and wood. This technology, like pin marking, is computer controlled and allows for a wide range of marking capabilities.

Its marking speed depends on depth requirements, marking character size and laser power. For surface and light marking—up to .003” in depth—the laser will get the job done fast. If you need a deeper mark, a laser can be a much slower method than traditional or pin marking.

Because the marked material is vaporized instead of displaced, laser marks are more aesthetically pleasing. This non-contact form of marking also means minimal part fixturing.

Eye protection is required when using laser technology unless the laser is housed in a certified Class 1 enclosure. Laser technology can be the most expensive of the three and requires a higher level of knowledge to operate and maintain.

What is the Right System for Your Marking Needs?

That’s what we’re here for. At SCHMIDT, before we recommend or build your marking system, we first figure out which technology is right for your needs. Ready to find out more? Let’s talk.