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Laser Marking or Dot Peen? Which to Choose and Why

Choosing the right marking system is all about application and business needs. This doesn’t mean that one way is right and one is wrong, but there’s always a best choice depending on your product. To help you make your choice, we’re answering one of the most common questions we hear from our clients: “What’s the difference between laser marking and dot peen?”

Dot Peen

Dot peen marking is a technology that uses a rigid carbide tipped pin to stamp, peen, or etch thousands of closely spaced dots to create text. The mark depth can somewhat be controlled or changed depending on the material and is typically permanent. Modern dot peen technology is saddled with intuitive, easy-to-operate software systems. Advantages include: 

  • Reliable, fast and direct 
  • Ideal for industrial marking 
  • Portable machines 
  • Cheap equipment costs.

However, there are some downsides to dot peen marking. Compared to laser marking, dot peen marking makes a significant imprint on a material’s surface, which doesn’t allow for a smooth finish. And because this marking method relies on a system of dots, the marks are less legible. Disadvantages include: 

  • Extremely Loud
  • Low mark quality 
  • Parts must be rigid or clamped down 
  • Can be applied only to sturdy materials 
  • Carbide pin wears out easily and quickly
  • Slow speed 
  • Cannot mark barcodes

Laser Marking

Laser marking uses a pulsed, high peak energy beam to create precise marks and etching in various materials. There are several kinds of laser marking systems, as different wavelengths can be used to achieve varying depths of marks on equally varying materials. Laser marking is highly versatile and customizable. It is one of the most popular systems for marking because it is easy to use and requires low maintenance. Advantages include: 

  • High contrast marking
  • Smooth finish 
  • Extremely accurate 
  •  High speed 
  • Best quality mark 
  • Can be dynamically sized 
  • Varied depth from surface marking to deep engraving
  • Can create Barcodes as well as QR Codes

In Comparison

When compared to dot peen systems, laser marking has very few downsides. And though laser systems are a significant investment, they save time and money overall. Additionally, because both systems are best suited for metallic surfaces, but because lasers are faster, smoother, more exact and can etch a variety of marks (barcodes, QR codes, serial numbers, text, and images), the winner is pretty clear.

At Laser Marking Technologies, we’ve developed hundreds of laser systems solutions for part manufacturers and businesses. If you’d like to learn more about how laser part marking can work for you, please give us call. We’re happy to help in any way we can.