Marking and Engraving Equipment Information
Image Credit: ATS Automation | Epilog Laser Corp. | GT Schmidt Marking Systems
Marking and engraving equipment marks or engraves products and packages with bar codes, lot codes, date stamps, graphics, labels, and other information. Marks are applied during the manufacturing process, eliminating the need to generate labels or papers for subsequent application. Product specifications for marking and engraving equipment include printing or marking width, maximum cycle rate, number of colors, and digital interface. Printing or marking width is the width of the characters produced by the marking and engraving equipment. Maximum cycle rate is the number of cycles that can be performed during a specific period of time. Number of colors is also an important specification. Marking and engraving equipment with a digital interface can output signals according to industrial fieldbus protocol such as CANbus, PROFIBUS®, or SERCOS; a networking protocol such as Ethernet; or another industrial automation protocol. PROFIBUS is a registered trademark of PROFIBUS International.
Marking and engraving equipment uses many different technologies. Choices include direct thermal, dot matrix, flexography, hot stamping, impact press (indenting), ink jet, laser printer, laser marking, LED or LCD, letterpress, line printer, offset printer, pad printer, plotter, roll form marking, rotary engraving, rotary marking, rotary press, rotogravure, screen printer, stylus marking (scribing), and thermal transfer. Laser marking equipment is used to mark ceramics, glass, wood, aluminum, or stainless steel with labels, graduations, text, pictures, or patterns. Roll form marking and engraving equipment feature a marking method which uses a contoured head. Rotary marking machines such as pad printers are used to mark round parts. Planetary marking machines, a specific type of rotary marking machines, rotate products or media through the marking area. Stylus marking or scribing machines are workbench, table top or handheld machines with an integral tool head used for marking and engraving purposes.
How to Select
Selecting marking and engraving equipment requires an analysis of media handled, automation options, and operational method. Some marking machines are designed for glass, ceramics, metals, paper, plastics, electronics, or semiconductors. Others are used with textiles, composite materials, wood, corrugated paper, or irregular surfaces. Manual, semi-automatic, and fully automatic marking equipment is commonly available. Manual markers aid in the setting or holding of a product, but require an operator to perform most activities. Semi-automatic marking equipment aids in placement and packaging motions, allowing a single operator to perform multiple operations with speed and efficiency. Fully automatic marking and engraving equipment requires only minimum operator intervention. Typically, operator involvement is limited to feeding supply hoppers, removing empty pallets, or replacing packaging components. With regard to operational method, choices include mechanical, electric, pneumatic, and hydraulic.
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