Advantages and Disadvantages

of Laser Marking compared to Labeling

by Michael Rosenwirth

The choice between laser marking and labeling for PCB marking is an important decision that depends on various factors. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages that should be considered when making a selection. In the following article, we would like to summarize some of these factors for you:

Advantages of Labeling:

  • Low upfront costs for the hardware, if needed, or no acquisition costs at all when using pre-printed labels.
  • 100% verification with pre-printed labels.
  • The material can be easily adapted to the specific production process.
  • Over 100 material combinations (label/ribbon) are possible.
  • Color printing is possible.
  • High contrast enables easy readability with standard barcode scanners.
  • Manual or automatic application of labels is possible (labels are integrated into the pick-and-place system and treated as components).
  • Highly flexible in application.
  • Minimal time required for label printing.
  • Minimal time required for setting up the pick-and-place machine.

Disadvantages of Labeling:

  • Costs for labels and ribbons, or costs for label printing.
  • Additional costs for a label feeder in the pick-and-place machine.

Advantages of Laser Marking:

  • No costs for consumables like labels or ribbons.
  • Information remains intact even during additional processes such as reflow soldering, wave soldering, vapor phase soldering, cleaning, and the use of chemicals.
  • An alternative method for PCB marking while maintaining consistent quality.

Disadvantages of Laser Marking:

  • High upfront costs for the hardware (approximately 85-120 K).
  • The contrast of the marked information varies and can only be reliably captured with high-quality camera systems that not every customer possesses.
  • Requires additional extraction systems to remove dust from the system and dispose of it in an environmentally friendly manner.
  • The laser needs to be recalibrated each time PCBs of different thicknesses or changing solder mask coatings are used, resulting in time and material loss.
  • In case of incorrect marking, the area needs to be overlaid and re-marked.
  • The use of lasers requires special safety precautions.
  • Often, expensive camera systems are necessary to read barcodes or DMX codes.

Conclusion: PCB marking with “High-Temp” labels remains a good and reasonably priced option, offering a high degree of flexibility!

Our experienced consulting team is ready to assist you in selecting the most suitable solution for your needs.