Laser marking of polymer tubes

Ultrafast laser marking of polymers can produce a permanent high-contrast mark in the material. Unlike printing, laser marking is resistant to solvents or abrasion.

Blue nylon tube

Materials processing with ultrafast lasers provides unique advantages over conventional laser processing techniques.

The short pulse widths and high repetition rates allow for faster processing speeds and incredibly small and precise marking features.

The multiphoton absorption of ultrashort pulses means that the wavelength of the femtosecond pulses plays a less critical role and in the cold processing regime, the marks are free of melting and charring.

Ultrafast lasers can be used to process a number of polymers, irrespective of transparency or thickness. The same laser that can cut the material, can also produce a permanent, high-quality mark, simplifying manufacturing by enabling more than one process by a single laser.

In our application lab, we put our ORIGAMI XP to the test. Read how the high peak-power and ultrashort pulses ensure high-contrast markings – even on transparent material.

Read the application note.

As medical devices develop and get smaller, the ability to make high-quality cutting and fine features become more important.

The use of ultrafast lasers in the fabrication of polymer medical devices has gained wide acceptance within recent years.

Unlike mechanical methods, laser cutting has the ability to create fine, precisely machined features and markings. Through the non-contact process, a consistent high-quality cut is ensured at a high yield and low cost.

Because ultrafast lasers can process a wide variety of polymers, regardless of transparency or thickness, you can simplify the manufacturing process. The high-quality cutting and marking eliminate the need for post-processing and reduce the overall manufacturing cost.

In our application lab, we put our ORIGAMI XP to the test and made it cut very small holes and fine features in various polymer tubes. Read more about how the high peak-power and ultrashort pulses of our lasers, have a dramatic effect on the laser cutting results.

Read the application note.

Polyimide (or PI or Kapton) is a thin film widely used in the medical and microelectronics industries due to its mechanical strength, electrical insulation, thermal stability, chemical inertness, and biocompatibility. 

Ultrafast lasers provide the needed precise, non-contact micromachining processing technique with a minimal need for post-processing.

Results from our application lab indicate that our Onefive ORIGAMI XP femtosecond laser can be used to achieve debris-free no-HAZ machining of polyimide film. The higher peak power of femtosecond laser pulses helps to vaporize polyimide film instantly, leaving a debris-free surface.

We have designed our ORIGAMI XP for easy and cost-effective integration. It comes in an air-cooled, single-box chassis with removable handles and offers full remote-control capabilities. With a rugged design and low maintenance costs, it is ideal for many industrial applications.

Read the application note.

To make a stent, high-precision lasers are used to remove material from a tube to form a geometrically complex mesh.

High-precision laser cutting – or micromachining – of stents is primarily driven by the need to create very small, precise features at a high yield and reduced cost.

The use of ultra-short pulsed femtosecond lasers for micromachining has been proven to simplify the overall manufacturing process, particularly by eliminating post-processing steps and reducing overall manufacturing costs.

We recently tested our ORIGAMI XP femtosecond laser for micromachining Nitinol stents with our US collaborator, JEM Lasers. The results were amazing. We realized very precise cuts. None of the cut edges were affected by heat as the “cold ablation” by femtosecond pulses eliminates heat dissipation.

The ORIGAMI XP has been designed for easy and cost-effective integration. It comes in an air-cooled, single-box chassis with removable handles and offers full remote-control capabilities. With a rugged design and low maintenance costs, it is ideal for many industrial applications.

Download application note to read more.

Laser marking has rapidly become the preferred UDI marking process.

Unique Device Identification ensures traceability

The FDA requires that all medical devices are marked with a Unique Device Identifier (UDI).

The marking must have lifelong durability to ensure traceability and patient safety.

It must contain plain text which is readable by humans as well as machine-readable code. Both must be permanently legible because traceability is crucial for medical implants and surgical devices. An ultrafast laser provides a smooth mark with high contrast.

Marking of all kinds of material

Medical devices can range from implants and catheters to less invasive multi-use surgical tools such as scissors, forceps, and scalpels.

Typical materials that are used in the manufacture of medical devices are:

  • Stainless steel
  • Aluminum
  • Titanium
  • Plastics (such as PEEK, HDPE, nylon)

All can be marked using our ultrafast lasers.

Cost-effective permanent marking

Most marks are required to remain durable after regular use and cleaning, which makes laser marking ideal.

Laser marking is an attractive and cost-effective marking solution with many advantages: The process reliability, the non-contact nature, the inherent flexibility, the capability to create intricate details, the micron precision. And there is no need for consumables.

Why use ultrafast lasers?

Ultrafast lasers have many advantages compared to nanosecond lasers. You can mark a wide range of materials due to the short pulse duration that gives a high peak power. The short pulse duration reduces the unwanted thermal effects of traditional laser marking.

Medical device markings must repeatedly withstand the high temperatures and humidity of autoclave cleaning and sterilization. Conventional thermal laser markings typically fade or corrode when cleaned frequently.

Our ultrafast product range produces high-contrast black marking on stainless steel. The marking is insensitive to the viewing angle. These markings are smooth to the touch and do not encourage biological traps.

Ultrafast lasers create smooth marks which can survive many cleaning cycles. During ultrafast laser marking, the laser removes no material, and there is no microcracking or surface damage.

The ultrashort pulses produce nanostructures on the surface of the medical device. These structures trap light and provide a high-contrast matt black “printed” appearance. You can see the marking from every angle.

The markings are smooth to the touch and do not cause biological traps.

Download this application note as pdf.

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Summary

The ultrashort pulses delivered by NKT Photonics’ ultrafast laser range are well suited to marking in the medical industry and fulfilling the requirements for UDI-compliant marking.

The ORIGAMI XP is the first all-in-one, single-box, microjoule femtosecond laser on the market. The laser head, controller, and air-cooling system are all integrated into one small and robust package, with a footprint so small it even fits into a hand-luggage!

NKT white glass

For biomedical applications, laser micromachining of glass is in high demand – particularly to create lab-on-a-chip or microfluidic chips.

One of the biggest challenges when making lab-on-a-chip is to machine the high-precision pipes, vessels, and valves inside the glass chip.

Micromachining of very small features in glass is difficult due to its brittleness and transparency. With conventional tools, it is practically impossible. However, ultrafast lasers can do the job.

When the pulse duration is below some tens of picoseconds, the laser-material interaction enters the cold ablation regime and the machining quality and precision become very high.

We have successfully machined typically sought lab-on-chip features and marking on glass with our ORIGAMI XP femtosecond laser.

The ORIGAMI XP has been designed for easy and cost-effective integration. It comes in an air-cooled, single-box chassis with removable handles and offers full remote-control capabilities. With a rugged design and low maintenance costs, it is ideal for many industrial applications.

Download the application note to read more.

The growing use of PMMA in medical device and display manufacturing demands a high-precision micro-machining process to create fine features. 

Ultrafast lasers provide the needed precise, non-contact micromachining processing technique with a minimal need for post-processing.

In our application lab, we have seen that our ORIGAMI XP femtosecond laser is well suited to machine PMMA films.

Using infrared wavelengths to process PMMA films yields much better quality than a long-pulse laser CO2 laser. A green wavelength laser can improve quality even further.

We have designed our ORIGAMI XP for easy and cost-effective integration. It comes in an air-cooled, single-box chassis with removable handles and offers full remote-control capabilities. With a rugged design and low maintenance costs, it is ideal for many industrial applications.

Read the application note.