Conelec has recently invested in laser-etch equipment to improve our ability to uniquely identify our customers’ products, as well as improve our process yields.
Laser etching is a means to replace the traditional paper, polyester or kapton label typically applied to printed circuit board assemblies. The benefits to laser etching are several fold.
Traditional label stock is expensive and the cost of the label is passed on to the customer. Laser etching adds no material cost to the assembly.
Traditional labels have to be printed and then applied to the bare boards. The laser etch process is automated and requires much less time per board than the manual processes previously mentioned.
Labels are three dimensional objects and therefore have thickness. The thickness of the label can work against us during the paste printing process by preventing efficient gasketing of the stencil and board. A laser-etched unique identifier has no thickness and will not adversely affect print quality.
Labels are relatively large and require open real estate. Many of our customers are packing a lot of electronics in small packages and thus the availability of real estate is rare. Laser etching of 2D barcodes can be accomplished in areas as small as 3mm x 3mm.
Label printers can produce poor quality barcodes or even human-readable text over time as ribbons or print heads wear out. Laser etch equipment produces the same high-quality identification time after time.
In general, laser etching improves cost, quality and cycle time.