Permanent marking on metal, whether stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, brass, or copper, presents a couple of unique challenges but can be accomplished in a number of ways.
When you're looking to make a permanent mark on metal, there are a few options for how the mark can be achieved. Any marking method which removes part of the metal itself to create the mark will be an option. This includes etching and engraving methods. Surface marking methods are also options, although they typically rely on durable, long-lasting ink being applied to the surface which can be somewhat cumbersome and is not always an ideal solution for harsher applications.
Which Method to Choose?
The type of metal being marked will sometimes dictate with marking method is best. For instance, while very hard metals could be stamped with an impact press package, a more effective solution might be a laser marking system depending on your specific requirements.
Or, the application requirements can dictate which marking method to choose. Permanent marking on metal fabrications which will be exposed to corrosive chemicals or harsh environments might be better suited to the types of deep marks made by steel type rather than the surface marks of an ink jet printer.
Ultimately, the best solution will come down to several factors including the material, application, budget, and time restraints (if any).
So, let’s take a look at the 3 basic types of marking methods that can be used for permanent marking on metal.
Etching can be accomplished with a number of methods, but each of them rely on disturbing the surface of the metal to a noticeable depth. The change in surface properties shows a contrast, which is the visible mark.
The most common etching methods include:
Much like etching, engraving relies on displacing the surface of the metal. When engraving or stamping, however, a much deeper mark is made into the surface. Engraving and stamping are ideal solutions for applications that will be subject to harsh environments and parts that will be subject to paintings or coatings.
Common engraving methods include:
Surface marking typically doesn't remove any of the surface material; instead this type of marking method adds ink, paint, or foil to the surface of the material.
Common surface marking methods include:
This post was published on May 25, 2017 and updated on October 15, 2020.