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Black on Metal

Dark black marks
TherMark’s LMM series laser marking materials are specifically engineered to create high quality black marks on a wide variety of metals. The contrast, resolution, and durability of these marks make TherMark materials ideal for:

 

  • Bar coding
  • 2D data matrices
  • Product serialization
  • Direct part marking
  • Text labeling
  • Part traceability
  • Branding
  • Logos and decorative marking

 

TherMark materials offer clear advantages over every other type of marking in use today. For more information on how TherMark compares to direct laser marking, pad/screen printing, engraving, chemical etching, dot peen, and labeling, please click here.

 

Compatible metals
There is an appropriately formulated TherMark material for almost every metal surface. The process window for creating high quality marks may vary depending on substrate composition and/or thickness, application method, and laser type. It is important to note that TherMark materials will not mark over or through clear coat. If you wish to mark a metal with a coating or lacquer, this layer must be removed prior to application of TherMark material. In some cases dual pass operation may be a good solution to this problem, where the coating is ablated during the first pass of laser marking after which the TherMark material is applied for final marking.

 

Stainless steel Brass Pewter
Stainless steel - bright annealed Copper Chrome plating
Galvanized steel Silver Nickel plating
Aluminum Gold  
Anodized Aluminum Titanium  

 

Due to the vast number of different metal alloys, the above list is not exhaustive. If you are interested in marking a metal not on our list, please contact us.

 

Which product to use
Choosing the correct TherMark product for your marking needs depends on what your priorities and requirements are for both your mark and marking process. For some, the blackness of the mark is the determining factor, while for others a required production quota makes marking speed the most important consideration. In other situations, delivery method is a key factor: in some applications a liquid ink is not appropriate and a dry application method like a tape is preferred. Finally, some substrates are more challenging than others and require specialty products. The chart below gives some product recommendations based on a number of different considerations. We recognize that a combination of these factors will likely contribute to determination of the best product for your needs, so feel free to contact us
for a consultation.

 

Mark blackness & difficult to mark metals Different TherMark products make darker black marks on different substrates. If blackness of mark is a key factor, we recommend:
  • Stainless steel – LMM6000 aerosol or paste ink
  • Chrome or nickel plating – LMM14 aerosol or liquid ink
  • Anodized metal – LMM6018.LF self-adhesive tape
  • All other metals – LMM14 aerosol or liquid ink
Marking speed If marking speed is a key factor your best options will be determined by the thermal absorption properties of each product and your desired level of process integration. LMM14 has higher absorption at the wavelengths of operation of both CO2 and solid state lasers, and as a result can be used with higher speeds than our other liquid/paste inks.
  • Manual assembly (low volume) – aerosol application of LMM14
  • Batch processing (medium volume) – airbrush application of liquid LMM14
  • Inline manufacturing (high volume) – automated application of liquid LMM14

*
LMM6018.LF self-adhesive paper-backed tape will require the slowest speed setting of all products because the laser must burn through the paper backing before bonding the marking material to the substrate.
Wet vs. dry process If you have a preference between wet and dry processing you have the following options:
Durability of ink coat after application and prior to laser marking LMM14 dries as a powder coating making it extremely easy to wash after laser marking but requiring laser marking soon after application due to possible smudging. If you prefer to handle, transport, or stack parts after TherMark laser marking ink has been applied, we recommend LMM6000 liquid/paste or LMM6018.LF tape.
Low tolerance for mark variability The inherent challenge in applying TherMark laser marking material via foam brush, air brush or aerosol can is that coating thickness may vary from application to application and consequently, mark quality may vary as well. While it is possible to optimize these application methods to minimize this issue, if you have a low tolerance for mark variability we recommend products that better regulate the amount of laser marking material being offered for bonding: LMM6018.LF self-adhesive paper-backed tape.
Ease of disposal, shipping, and handling Both LMM14 liquid ink and LMM6018.LF self-adhesive paper-backed tape are environmentally friendly, easy to dispose of and handle, and allow for ground or air shipping with no additional fees. In contrast, the other ink products for marking metal contain alcohol, requiring more care when handling due to their flammability, and are subject to additional shipping fees when shipped via air.


Laser recommendations

Both CO2 and solid state lasers work well with most TherMark marking materials for making black marks on metal. For marking metals, we recommend a minimum of 25W of power for CO2 lasers, and 10W of power for solid state lasers. CO2 lasers tend to be more appropriate for
manual or batch processing, while solid state lasers tend to be more appropriate for inline processing. Feel free to consult our Choosing a Laser section for more information on choosing a laser.

Marking Time
Exact marking speeds will vary depending on your choice of TherMark material, substrate composition, substrate thickness, laser power as well as the mode of operation, i.e. rastering or vectoring (for more information on variables that may affect your marking,
click here). However, marking speeds with TherMark materials are often faster than in case of direct laser marking. For more information on marking speeds, please visit our Cycle Time section.

 

Substrate Protection
One of the clear benefits of using TherMark marking materials is they “protect” the substrate. Our materials absorb much of the laser energy before it gets to the substrate. This enables us to mark most substrates (including nickel or chrome plating and anodized surfaces) without any damage. This is in sharp contrast with direct laser marking which relies on burning the substrate to produce a mark. For more information on how laser marking with TherMark affects a substrate, please
click here.