22 Industrial Laser Solutions MAY/JUNE 2015 www.industrial-lasers.com
allow finest details—especially when it
comes to kiss print (when the finest struc-
tures on the printing plate just smoothly
contact the can in order to print the light
colored areas). Engraving
embossing rollers to
achieve a pressed-in
structure is one more
trend in this industry.
Amazingly enough, there
is an additional trend from
cans to bottles for wines.
The three big can
producers (Rexam, Ball
Packaging, and Crown)
together have more turnover than the whole laser
industry; just imagine the
impact of laser engrav-
ing applications within
this single branch of
consumer industry (FIGURE 7).
Cans are not the only application in the
food and beverage industry by far. Just
look at your next yogurt cup or its lid—it’s
very likely that a laser is responsible for its
state-of-the-art high-resolution print.
Automotive applications. The use of
lasers for engraving in the automotive
industry dates back to the early laser days.
The day/night design for many dashboard
elements is a well-known and commonly
used application. A current trend is to apply
sophisticated artificial animal patterns to
the dashboard (usually a scan from real
skins, expanded with complex algorithms
to a perfect-looking, non-repetitive sur-
face). Every car manufacturer has a dis-
tinct design and even the various series
within an automotive company have very
typical designs corresponding to the type
of the car, whether it’s an SUV
or a sports car. And besides the
leatherette dashboard applica-
tion, cloth for door inserts as well
as seat applications are an addi-
tional focus (FIGURE 8).
Today, direct laser engraving has
certain limits regarding resolution
and productivity. The combination
of AOM and CO2, with its current
limitation of laser power (around
600W), allows the production of
around 1 m2 per hour for printing
plates or rollers (at a 3D depth of 500µm),
enough for many applications—but industry will demand more. And there will be
more in the near future (e.g., multi-beam).
Good-old film material will retire and lasers
will take its place.
Results from recent leatherette mate-
rial and embossing research will be spread
over many products in daily life (bags, wallets) so that it will not be difficult to get into
touch with laser engraving technology
every day and even almost every hour.
Think about it when you open the next
bottle of mineral water, as the banderole
is likely printed with a high-speed, laser-engraved printing plate. ✺
1. M. Bohrer, “Ultra stable carbon fibre high power CO2 laser
with high quality laser beam and AOM implementation,”
SPIE Photonics West 2015, paper 9343-61 (2015).
DR. MARKUS BOHRER ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is the
CEO of Dr. Bohrer Lasertec GmbH, Neusiedl am See,
FIGURE 8. Synthetic leather on a dashboard.
FIGURE 7. Cans are a multi-billion production