engraving most depth, etching middle depth, marking least depth

The Difference between Laser Engraving, Etching, and Marking.

The terms laser engraving, laser etching, and laser marking are commonly used interchangeably. They are similar in the fact that a beam of light is amplified and concentrated at a single focal point. The surface of the metal is heated and its surface is altered. But where they differ is depth of penetration into the metal.

  • Laser Engraving physically removes material from the metal by heating the surface and vaporizing the material. This is ideal for high wear environments (physically or highly corrosive). Visibility of the impression is very resistant to abuse because many more layers of the surface have to be removed in order to get to the bottom of the engraving depth.
  • Laser Etching is a subset of engraving also removing material but vaporizes only the surface level. This results in a very shallow indentation ( < 0.001”). This is  a less durable impression than laser engraving.
  • Laser Marking does not remove material. It creates a marking by heating the surface of the metal resulting in oxidation of the material immediately under the surface layer. This changes the color of the material and creates a high contrast mark leaving the surface intact. This is ideal for identification and safety critical applications where removal of material would compromise its structural integrity. But since laser marking only alters the surface, the marking will disappear once the top layer is removed. It is not ideal for high wear environments if visibility is a concern.

Our newest Blockplates are laser engraved for the most resistant impression that will withstand even the harshest environments and allow your seed to be identifiable even after years of wear and tear.

Back to blog