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Mil-Std 130
UID Solutions
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FAQ

2D Code Readers Ink Jet Fluids
2D Code Verifiers Mil-Std 130
Direct Product Marking (DPM) Laser Marking Systems
Ink Jet Systems UID Compliant Marking

 

Laser Marking Systems

1. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of ink jet printing versus laser etching of UID marks?

Inkjet Printing Advantages – Ink jet printing is an additive process. In most cases the printed ink thickness is less than 0.001” thick. Since it is an additive process, unless the ink has been cured, it can be removed in the event of operator error without damage to the part. Inkjet marking is a natural progression to rubber stamping or pad transfer printing. Inkjet marking systems range from $8.5K to over $100K, depending on system configuration. Portable inkjet printing systems are available whereby small or medium sized parts can be brought to the marking system for UID identification. When printing large parts, the ink jet print head can be brought to the part for marking. Print contrast can be achieved by printing a white or light background followed by a black or dark mark.

Inkjet Printing Disadvantages – Ink jet printers require consumables, inks and system fluids (also referred to as Make-Up or solvent). In order to achieve marking permanency with the ink selected for use a curing process (UV or thermal) may be required. Chemical waste is generated by an ink jet process during the head cleaning, printer maintenance or general part cleaning process. MEK inks may be required for Mil-Std 130 UID compliance. Not all ink jet printers are the same. Some require more maintenance than others thus, printer selection is more difficult. Care and process considerations must be considered in order to avoid implementing a messy process. May require multiple ink jet printers, generally a white and a black ink printer, in order to obtain the necessary print contrast on select parts. Pigmented (white or yellow ink) ink jet printers require significantly more maintenance and are not capable of achieving high resolution marks. Ink jet printers can clog if not properly maintained.

Laser Etching Advantages – Laser etching or marking is a subtractive process; material is removed to generate the mark. Thus laser marks are permanent marks without requiring any curing process to achieve marking permanency. High resolution print quality is achievable. No potentially hazardous chemicals are required. Laser marking systems range from $25K to over $100K, depending on system configuration.

Laser Etching Disadvantages- Improper set-up can generate scrap or require remarking in newly designated areas. Set-up times for individual parts can vary. Provisions for operator safety must be incorporated into the marking process. These provisions include: incorporating Class I enclosures, installation within controlled environments, extensive operator and maintenance personnel training, and posting of laser warning signs. Laser etching systems can be costly when properly integrated. For high power laser systems water chillers may be required. Fume extractors are recommended in order to remove laser debris. Improper set-up can cause potential mark penetration problems. Laser etching process requires a higher skilled operator.

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