Robotics

Robotic laser marking benefits for the automotive industry

Laser marking involves a technique where a laser etches, stains, or otherwise engraves a material and is extremely useful for the automotive industry, which demands precision marking.
By Robotic Industries Association (RIA) November 13, 2019
Courtesy: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Manufacturers in the automotive industry now rely on laser marking, not just for brand recognition, but for part identification and traceability. Laser marking involves a technique where a laser etches, stains, or otherwise engraves a material. This process is resilient to acids, abrasion, and heat. It can be performed on metals, plastics, and other materials like foils, films, and laminates.

Laser marking offers automotive part traceability

Part traceability is an integral part of the automotive industry, as investigators must know where a part came from in the case of failure or part recall. Traditionally, automotive parts manufacturers simply affixed a label printed with a barcode or some text information to parts

In the past, manufacturers and consumers didn’t worry much about part identification. But in today’s global economy, parts can come from anywhere in the world, even traveling back and forth between countries. This makes it hard for consumers and suppliers to keep track of the part’s original source. Important though it is, traceability isn’t just for safety — government inspectors and officials can trace a part’s origin to ensure proper tariffs and taxes have been paid, and to check for compliance with trade agreements.

Laser marking makes all this much easier, and it also helps keep track of parts throughout the manufacturing process. A connected factory allows information to be collected and stored in a secure database on laser marked parts. Intelligent software keeps tabs on a specific part. The unique identifiers on a part indicate component-level, subassembly, major assembly, and final assembly IDs, resulting in complete component traceability.

Laser marking is ideal for the automotive industry

Manufacturers like to include a mark with a part number and other information that makes it easier for customers to buy replacement parts, making laser marking important ease of ordering and brand recognition, in addition to traceability reasons. Part manufacturers can make the same part for several suppliers who all want their own logo on it for distribution. This is especially common when OEMs source parts from a third party.

Laser marking has many advantages over traditional marking methods: it can be automated to save both time and cost; the markings are durable and nearly impossible to damage; since the laser spot is very small, it can mark hard to reach parts of the product; laser marking is more cost-effective than other traceability systems; and laser marking guarantees high precision even with complex detail.

This article originally appeared on the Robotics Online BlogRobotic Industries Association (RIA) is a part of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), a CFE Media content partner.


Robotic Industries Association (RIA)