Laser-Marked PCB Labeling Solutions - When and Where

From an article by Brady Regional Product Management Andy Schmitt

When PCB board space is limited, the need for higher resolution printing and smaller font sizes (3 points and below) is also increased. Other operational and environmental factors, including 1) surface-mount technology (SMT) reflow steps requiring high temperatures, 2) wave soldering for through-hole assemblies and 3) washing steps that prevent the use of customary thermal heat transfer (THT) print, can all become obstacles. As a result, manufacturers may decide to further automate labeling tasks, along with pick-and-place surface-mount technologies. In all of these situations, laser-marked PCB labels become a viable solution in lieu of THT printed polyester or polyimide labels.

Printing Technology Comparison Guide

Attribute THT Printing Laser Marking Direct Marking
Initial Equipment Costs Low Moderate High
Recurring Costs Moderate Moderate Low
Marking Permanence Good Excellent Excellent
Print Resolution Good Excellent Good
Print Speed Excellent Good Poor
Contrast Excellent Excellent Poor*
Barcode Grades Excellent Excellent Poor*
Automation Good Excellent Excellent
Air Handling None Recommended Required
Easy to Re-Work Yes Yes No

* Direct marking color contrast defined by substrate and laser marking mechanism.



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