What’s The Difference Between Laser Marking, Etching, And Engraving Service?

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As a manufacturer and supplier in the metal fabrication industry, I often get asked about the differences between laser marking, etching, and engraving services. These terms are often used interchangeably, but there are distinct differences between them. The main differences between them is the working process, application, cut depths.In this blog post, I will provide a brief overview of each service and their unique characteristics. 

Laser marking, etching, and engraving are all methods of adding a permanent and precise identification mark on a material surface. These methods are widely used in various industries, including aerospace, automotive, medical, and electronics, to mark parts and components for traceability, branding, and aesthetic purposes.

laser marking service

What is Laser Marking?

Have you ever wondered how certain products have markings on them? For instance, the identification numbers on electronic devices, the expiration dates on food packages, or the serial numbers on machinery. These markings are not just for decoration; they serve a crucial purpose in identifying and tracking products. One of the most efficient and precise ways to create these markings is through a process called laser marking.

Laser marking is a non-contact process that uses a laser beam to change the color or texture of the material surface without removing any material. The laser beam produces a high-contrast mark that is precise, permanent, and of high resolution. A variety of materials can be employed with this procedure, including metals, plastics, ceramics, and composites. 

Laser marking uses a high-powered laser beam that interacts with the surface of the material. The laser beam generates heat, which causes the material to melt, vaporize, or undergo a chemical change. The laser beam can be either continuous or pulsed, depending on the type of material being marked.

Advantages of Laser marking:

Laser marking is ideal for marking logos, serial numbers, barcodes, and other identification marks on small or complex components. 

With little damage to the surface of the material, it is a quick and effective method that may create marks of exceptional quality.

Laser marking machines can also be programmed to mark multiple parts simultaneously, making it a cost-effective solution for high-volume production.

Furthermore, laser marking is a non-contact process, which means that the metal surface being marked is not physically touched by the laser beam. This is advantageous for delicate or intricate parts that may be damaged by other marking techniques.

What is Laser Etching ?

Laser etching is a procedure that employs a low-powered laser to melt the micro-surface of a material, creating raised marks that are subtle and shallow.This is achieved by directing a focused laser beam onto the surface of the material, which heats and melts the micro-surface, resulting in a small bump or raised mark.

The history of laser etching dates back to the late 1960s when the first laser was invented. The first laser etching machine was developed in the early 1970s, but the technology was still in its infancy and was primarily used for scientific research. In the 1980s, laser etching technology became more advanced and commercially available, leading to its widespread use in various industries. Today, laser etching is a common and essential manufacturing process used in many industries, including aerospace, automotive, electronics, and medical.

Advantages of laser etching

High Precision and Accuracy: Laser etching can create marks with a resolution of up to 0.001 inches, making it ideal for small or detailed designs. The laser beam can also follow complex contours or curves, enabling it to mark uneven surfaces or irregular shapes with high accuracy. It’s challenging to reach this level of precision with other marking methods, such as stamping or screen printing.

Durability and Longevity: Laser-etched marks are highly resistant to wear, fading, or corrosion. They can withstand harsh environments, exposure to sunlight, chemicals, or abrasion without losing their integrity or readability. This makes laser etching a popular choice for products that require permanent identification, such as medical devices, aerospace components, or industrial machinery.

Versatility and Flexibility: Laser etching can make many designs, from simple logos or text to intricate patterns or images. It can also mark different materials with varying thicknesses, textures, or colors. This versatility allows companies to customize their products with unique branding, labeling, or identification

What is Laser Engraving?

Laser engraving is a process that involves using a high-powered laser beam to remove material from the surface of a material, creating a deep and permanent mark. The laser beam vaporizes the material and removes it in a controlled manner, leaving a precise and detailed design on the surface.

Advantage of laser engraving:

Multiple materials:It can mark a variety of non-metallic and metallic materials, especially suitable for brittle materials, high melting point materials, high hardness materials, etc

Non-contact process: Laser beam does not come into contact with the material being engraved. It will advoid the risk of damage to the material, making it a safe option for delicate or sensitive materials.

Speed and efficiency: Laser engraving is a fast and efficient process that produces high-quality engravings quickly and with minimal waste or errors. It is also capable of engraving multiple items at once, further increasing its efficiency.

Cost-effective: Laser engraving is a cost-effective process, particularly for small or medium-sized production runs. Unlike other engraving processes, such as mechanical engraving, there are no tools or dies required for laser engraving, which reduces setup costs and enables faster turnaround times.

Differences between Laser Marking, Etching, and Engraving 

Working Process

Laser marking will permanently mark the surface of a material with a color using a laser.

Laser etching is the process of creating tiny grooves or bumps by etching the surface of a material using a laser.

Laser engraving is the process of cutting shape or depth into the surface of a material by using a laser.


Lasering marking:Generally used to mark some information or graphics that need to be marked, such as marking the production date, trademark, barcode, etc.

Laser etching is often used in processing fields such as molds, electronic devices, and decorative materials.

Laser engraving is often used to make various handicrafts, gifts, jewelry, nameplates, etc.Depth


Cut depth

Laser marking creates a surface-level mark that does not penetrate the material. 

Laser etching, on the other hand, melts the micro-surface to create shallow, subtle marks. 

Laser engraving removes material from the surface to create deeper, more prominent marks.

Time and Cost

 Laser marking is the fastest and most cost-effective option of the three, followed by laser etching. Laser engraving is the slowest and most expensive due to its deeper and more precise cuts.


 Laser marking and etching are suitable for a varitey of materials, including plastics, metals, ceramics, and even some types of glass.

 Laser engraving is generally used for harder materials, such as metals, wood, and glass.

Why do you need laser marking, etching, or engraving?

These 3 processes could offer advantages such as high precision, fast speed, and good repeatability when working on the surface of an object. 

We could use them to create identification, patterns, or text on a variety of materials, including metals, plastics, glass, ceramics, and more.  

Meanwhile, these markings can be used for brand marketing, product tracing, anti-counterfeiting, and security purposes, making them widely used in industries such as manufacturing, electronics, medical, automotive, aerospace, and more. 

Additionally, compared to traditional chemical etching or mechanical engraving, laser processing can also reduce environmental and health hazards because they do not require the use of toxic chemicals and do not generate large amounts of waste.


Basically,laser marking, etching, and engraving are powerful techniques for creating high-precision, customizable marks on a variety of materials. People could choose the suitable one according to the project. 

Choose Chengli Hardware for making them for your precision metal stamping parts and sheet metal fabrication parts. Chengli Hardware provides custom laser marking, laser etching, and laser engraving services for your needs.

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