Frequently Asked Questions

Lasers are able to be marked in a variety of ways depending on the limitations of the material and the desired result. Lasers can be marked by removing small amounts of surface material, resulting in an etched, engraved, or deep engraved result. They can also react with chemicals in the material to change them and produce a mark. For example, annealing can produce a smooth black mark or, in the case of some stainless steels, produce a variety of colors depending upon the settings of the laser.

The kind of laser used depends largely upon what material is being used and the color of that material. Fiber lasers (1030-1080 nm) are often used when working with inorganic materials and virtually all metals. Green (532 nm), CO2 (11μm), and UV (355 nm) lasers are most commonly used to mark organic materials (such as polymers) and some metals or other materials that have organic coatings.

The exceptional precision of lasers allows us to mark to impossibly small sizes. The spot size of 0.005in enables us to produce microscopic text ‒ fiber lasers can often provide a spot size down to .001-.002in ‒ sometimes used to prevent counterfeiting. We have, for example, marked as many as 32 characters on the head of a Phillips eyeglass screw.

That depends upon the laser power, the material, the nature of the process (marking, engraving, cutting), and the area that the laser has to cover. A 20w fiber laser can mark a short part number, for example, in under 1 sec.

This depends upon the type of material as well as the wavelength and power of the laser. Lasers can cut through varying thicknesses of many substrates, from polymers to metals.

Absolutely. We can mark your logo or artwork on just about any material.

ILS can work with a wide range of inorganic and organic materials. Take a look at our Materials section to learn more.

At a minimum, we would need the artwork and/or copy you plan to mark, drawings and specifications (dimensions) of the parts/material, and the quantity. Logos and line art are best provided as vector files (dxf), but we can convert raster files if needed. For cutting jobs, a dxf file of the job is required. Samples of what is to be marked/cut would be needed to determine actual cycle times and costs. Our sales engineers will work with you to determine how many samples we need.

Artwork can be rendered in a couple of ways in the laser world. Your computer screen is really a series of tiny, same-sized dots (pixels). Turning those pixels on and off determines what you see. The laser also works by producing a tiny, fixed-size dot in the material. By controlling the spacing of those ‘on’ dots, we can produce a raster image. A vector image, on the other hand, is a continuous line. Artwork of this nature presents as an outline ‒ although we can ‘fill’ areas in order to get solids. The advantage of vector artwork is that it tends to laser faster. It’s also the obvious choice when cutting is being done.

No problem. If you give us some direction regarding fonts, sizes, basic layout, and such, we can produce a .pdf file for your review. By working together, we can revise the layout to get you finished artwork that meets your requirements. Our staff can also apprise you of design considerations based on the nature of your job and material.

ILS understands timelines. We work to support just-in-time delivery and will do what it takes to get the job done. We’ll be able to give you a realistic delivery date once we’re able to run samples to your satisfaction and calculate the respective cycle times.

Cost is determined by laser time (see the preceding FAQ), design time (setup), materials and jigs (if applicable), and shipping.

No. But we can offer discounts as quantities increase.

A jig or tray is a fixture that is built specifically for your part(s). Most commonly, it’s used to hold a number of parts so that they can be marked all at once, thereby minimizing parts handling and speeding up throughput. If we are marking a large number of parts, we may recommend that two or more trays be built so that some can be loaded and unloaded while another is being marked. Alternatively, if your part needs to be supported in a particular manner in order to allow for marking on a particular surface, a jig may be needed. However, if the part to be marked can simply be laid on a flat surface and marked, no jig would be needed.

Positively. We can wrap text and artwork around a cylindrical or conical part ranging in size from .010 to several inches in diameter. Larger parts may require us to fabricate an adapter for the rotary.