Additive Expands Scope of Laser Marking

January 2, 2005

2 Min Read
Additive Expands Scope of Laser Marking

Originally Published MPMN January 2005


Additive Expands Scope of Laser Marking

Matrix-independent technology yields photo-quality images

Norbert Sparrow

Micabs additives from DSM eliminate color correction and image resolution issues that often mar laser markings on plastics.

Laser marking of plastic products typically requires the use of an additive or pigment. The additive absorbs the laser light, converting it into heat that carbonizes the polymer. This has several drawbacks including coloration issues and poor contrast and image definition. Depending on the type of polymer that is being marked, the laser system also generally requires fine-tuning. Materials supplier DSM (Heerlen, The Netherlands) has developed a technology that eliminates these problems, according to business manager Valerie Reid.

Micabs is an additive that can be combined with a wide range of polymers to yield photo-quality dark images on light backgrounds. “The laser-active particles can be dispersed in a range of polymer matrices,” explains Reid. “Micabs’ principal form is a master batch granulate for compounding or dry-blending in an injection molding machine,” she adds.

When activated by a laser, the particles absorb the energy and turn from light to dark. The technique’s dispersion and particle-size control yields a definition and gray-scale response beyond the reach of traditional technologies, adds Reid. The marking of miniature parts and medical tubing has benefited.

Because Micabs does not rely on carbonization of the polymer to mark plastics, it is matrix independent. Engineering plastics, polyolefins, and silicone are among the materials that can be easily marked. The additive eliminates the need for color correction, and has little to no effect on material properties.

Manufacturers currently using laser marking systems will not incur system costs by switching to Micabs, notes Reid. And customers converting from traditional printing methods will see a clear return on investment, she adds.

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