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CO2 laser glass marking - CO2 laser and glass

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CO2 laser glass marking - CO2 laser and glass

Glass is one of the many materials that can undergo CO2 laser treatments. Laser is most often used for markings or cuts. In this article, we will explore how compatible glass is with laser technology and its possible applications.

glass


Glass composition


Glass is a material of natural origin, composed mostly of silica (SiO2). The material is heated until it reaches melting point and then left to resolidify. This process yields glass, a transparent material with a great resistance to corrosion.

Glass does have some defects, though. It is fragile and has a low resistance to thermal expansion.

Glass object with markings on it


Types of laserable glass


It is important to take its negative characteristics into consideration before applying laser technology to glass. Its type of composition and production will be deciding factors when choosing where to use laser.


Composition


Most of the glass available on the market isn’t composed solely of silica. Depending on the glass’ final use, other components are added to the silica to modify the material’s properties.

Adding substances to the material does alter its ‘laserability’. For example, laser technology cannot be used when metal has been added to glass. Crystal is part of this category of glass. In order to increase transparency, lead is added to the composition, thus making it incompatible with laser.

A laser decorated glass with opaque finishing


Production


Most glass is produced industrially. Nonetheless, one can still find productions of artisanal glass objects; obviously at a higher price.

The first type of glass has a more uniform structure which makes it a better candidate for laser applications. Artisanal glass, on the other hand, isn’t as easy to use with laser. The glass can contain structural and compositional inconsistencies like microfractures. This glass could easily crack when exposed to the heat generated by the laser.


How laser technology works on glass


Though laser applications usually work by sublimation for most materials, in the case of glass, the process is different. As previously mentioned, glass has a low tolerance for thermal expansion. Laser technology takes advantage of this characteristic by generating fractures at a microscopic level. These result in markings or cuts.

How does this process take place? Glass contains trapped microbubbles of air. When the laser touches upon the surface, it heats it and causes the dilatation of these bubbles. Due to the material’s lack of flexibility, this dilatation generates the aforementioned micro-fractures.

Various decorated glasses for champagne


CO2 laser markings on glass


Laser marking is the most common technique applied to glass. It is usually used for decorations or the marking of codes and other information.

Productions using laser have many advantages compared to traditional methods. They are cleaner, cheaper and offer a much wider range of applications.

Markings can be done in different ways, depending on the type of glass.


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