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Medical Marking


Laser medical marking delivers improved accuracy, higher efficiency and faster marking workflows for healthcare organizations.

Laser marking permanently adds device identifiers and other crucial information to a piece of health care equipment. It can include placing barcodes, logos and serial numbers on a device to replace traditional stamping, printing or labeling. Medical laser marking also withstands sterilization techniques that other methods may not easily survive.

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Laser marking works through a process known as laser annealing. This approach changes the workpiece’s surface color without damaging the substrate.

During the process, a focused laser beam heats the metal to diffuse subsurface oxygen. That results in the metal internally oxidizing, created by a molecular change due to heat exposure. Laser marking can achieve many different colors, which occur automatically as the material cools. Annealing produces a scientific phenomenon called thin-film interference, which splits light into two waves with differential reflection. In its simplest terms, the reflections differ between the topmost oxidized layer and the unaltered substrate.

Medical device and surgical instrument manufacturers often prefer laser annealing to mark equipment because it creates high-definition results without sacrificing structural integrity — it removes no material from the underlying component. Unlike etching for surgical instruments, marking leaves no space for bacteria to grow, which helps protect patient health.


With ever-changing regulations, it’s important to find effective device-tracing methods. Medical device laser marking helps by boosting healthcare organizations’ instrument traceability. The approach accurately labels equipment by creating substrate oxidation with highly concentrated heat without damaging the material. Once the workpiece cools, the contrasting colors appear. Results may vary based on material type.

Typical uses include:

  • Forceps
  • Trauma instruments
  • Saw blades
  • Catheter wires
  • Pacemakers
  • Dental implants
  • Medical tubes and needle hubs

Laser annealing produces marks that are permanent, fade-proof and impervious to many sterilization techniques, including many chemicals. Markings can include valuable device information like scannable QR codes or barcodes. This reliability and convenience help healthcare providers achieve better inventory management with higher accuracy. Additionally, advanced laser marking technology can incorporate regulatory-specific data to promote better compliance with industry standards.


Durable black markings that are permanent, deep black, and resistant to corrosion.
The process of black marking in laser processing results in dark and high-contrast markings on a surface without removing any material. By using extremely short laser pulses via a Pico laser, nanostructures or light-trapping cones are created on the surface. These microstructure cones reduce light scattering, leading to markings with a consistent depth and black color. When Pico lasers are utilized, the color changes are also resistant to corrosion within specific parameter ranges. This is because the heat-affected zone is minimal due to the use of ultrashort pulse Pico lasers, allowing for the formation of a self-healing oxide film on the surface.

Review of Advantages:

Uniformity of viewing angles
Black marking offers a unique advantage known as “viewing angle consistency”. This feature ensures that there is a very high and uniform contrast from all angles of view, thanks to the periodic nanostructures that reflect and absorb light in a scattered manner. This quality attribute is particularly valuable in industries such as watchmaking and automotive, where visible parts play a significant role.

Deep-black coloration
When metal is treated with a laser, it undergoes a striking transformation in color, turning a rich, deep black hue. This black marking not only enhances visibility but also creates a stark contrast and a non-reflective matte finish. This improvement significantly enhances the readability of both small and large details, making it easier for both manual and automatic processes to interpret the markings.

Intricate Markings
Pico lasers are perfect for creating precise black markings on small surfaces, such as delicate markings, Data Matrix Codes (DMCs), and Unique Device Identification (UDI) codes. These lasers have pulse durations that are significantly shorter and more powerful compared to other marking lasers, allowing for extremely fine and detailed markings to be made. This makes Pico lasers an ideal choice for creating intricate designs or patterns on small objects.

Durability against rust and corrosion
In various industries, it is essential to have corrosion-resistant markings. For instance, the EU Medical Devices Directive mandates that implants and surgical instruments must have a traceable UDI code for identification. When exposure times are limited, the diffusion of chromium atoms into deeper layers is minimized, preserving the chemical integrity of the surface. The use of black marking allows for durable corrosion-resistant markings that remain visible even after multiple cleaning and passivation processes.

Compliant to UDI standards
The Medical Device Directive of the EU and the regulations of the FDA in the United States mandate that medical devices must have durable labels with a unique UDI code for traceability. The use of black marking on medical devices proves to be highly effective in meeting the UDI requirements. The UDI codes marked with black using this method exhibit corrosion resistance, consistent viewing angles, and a deep black color, ensuring their permanent legibility even in small sizes.

Process of Black Marking:
1. The process of creating corrosion-resistant black markings involves using ultrashort pulse lasers with Pico pulse durations. These lasers are able to mark materials without causing thermal or mechanical damage due to the extremely short duration of the laser pulse. This prevents thermal stress cracks that can occur with traditional annealing methods. This type of laser processing is known as “cold processing” because it does not transfer heat to neighboring atoms.

2. In addition to laser structuring, the formation of a chromium oxide film is crucial for creating corrosion-resistant black markings. The minimal heat exposure from short-pulse lasers allows for a sufficient amount of chrome to remain on the surface, which helps in the self-healing process of the passive film. This results in the formation of corrosion-resistant films containing chromite, magnetite, and a mixed phase of iron-chrome-spinel.

3. After marking, medical products undergo a cleaning process, typically passivation to maintain the legibility and durability of the laser markings. Prolonged exposure times, aggressive cleaning agents, and high temperatures can affect the markings, which is why a targeted passivation procedure is often used for refinishing. This procedure involves using an acid bath with saltpetre or more commonly a citric acid mixed to ASTM standards to remove reactive elements from the surface and promote the formation of a new chrome oxide film for improved corrosion resistance. Additionally, this process helps in cleaning the surface and removing sulfides.




Since 2002, we have helped health care organizations with unique and durable solutions to their device-identifying challenges. At Laser Marking Technologies, we draw on combined experience exceeding 100 years and provide ongoing 24/7 support for your success.

Contact a support specialist or email us to request a quote or get more information.



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