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From the identification of genuine masks to see laser marking anti - counterfeiting applications

Issuing time:2020-10-06 08:22


Since the outbreak, masks have become a necessity at this stage of life. However, the huge demand gap has made some illegal traders take advantage of it, and a large number of low-quality masks have entered the market, and entries related to "fake masks" and "mask fraud" have frequently appeared in hot searches. Fake masks not only have no protective effect, but also have the risk of contamination due to substandard production environment hygiene, which is of great harm to personal health. And to identify true and false masks, the most direct method is to look at the laser anti-counterfeiting marks.


The box of 3M N95/KN95 series masks can be identified by the security label on the mask box. The label of the real mask will change color when viewed from different angles, while the label of the fake mask will not change color. For the loose 3M N95/KN95 series masks, the authenticity can be identified by observing the font on the mask. The text on the real 3M masks is laser-marked and twill, while the fakes are printed with ink and polka dots (uneven marks of ink).


In fact, the anti-counterfeiting technology of laser labeling can not only be used to identify the authenticity of masks, but also play a great role in the anti-counterfeiting and tracing of packaging in the fields of food, medicine, tobacco, beauty makeup and electronic products. It can be said that the anti-counterfeiting technology of laser labeling has been integrated into every aspect of our lives. So why can laser marking play such a huge role in the packaging anti-counterfeiting market? What advantages does it have over traditional methods?


Why is laser: laser marking anti - counterfeit features and application advantages


The basic principle of laser marking is to use the laser beam with high energy density to act on the surface of the material. By focusing, the surface material can be instantaneously gasified or color changed. By controlling the path of the laser on the surface of the material, the required permanent image and text marking can be formed. Because laser marking can produce a variety of words, symbols and patterns, character size can be from millimeter to micron magnitude, which has special significance for the anti-counterfeiting of products, so it has a wide range of applications in the anti-counterfeiting market.


Before laser marking was used on a large scale, the marks on the package were usually printed with ink. The marks printed by this traditional method are easy to fall off and blur over time, easy to be tampered with, and cannot be operated with high precision. Although it has advantages in equipment cost, consumable material (ink) has high continuous cost and will cause some pollution to the environment.


Take the most common food packaging as an example. Because the marks printed by traditional methods are easy to be erased and fall off, some lawbreakers will print some expired or even fake and inferior products with brand trademarks or modify the production date, so that these unqualified products can circulate in the market. This kind of phenomenon is in grain oil, beverage, snack, sauce wait for a domain to exist commonly. In addition, for some paper food packaging, ink harmful substances may also infiltrate packaging contaminated food, posing a threat to the health of consumers.



Beverage cap, food packaging marking


The emergence of laser technology has solved a series of problems caused by traditional ink printing. For food packaging, the use of laser marking has the advantages of non-toxic, pollution-free, high efficiency, high clarity, fine design, and never fall off. In addition, laser labeling can also be combined with computer technology, through the connection to the database system, so that we can timely track, query the delivery of food, circulation and other detailed information, to ensure that we eat at ease.


The medical industry is inseparable from laser escort. Because the medical products and the human body direct contact, related to the people's life and health, so the medical products anti-counterfeiting has become the top priority to protect the health and safety of consumers.



Drug, metal surface marking


In addition to the characteristics mentioned above, there are some special requirements for the labeling of medical devices and drugs. For example, for common pills and soft capsules, lithographic printing will exert pressure on the product, while non-contact laser marking will not deform the capsule and can mark even minute information on the tiny pill. In represented by stainless steel surgical and dental equipment of medical apparatus and instruments, laser marking on the surface of the absolute smooth, this can prevent bacterial adhesion on the surface, and will not damage on the target surface corrosion of chemical passivation treatment, can let the anticorrosive coating even after several years of use and cleaning and disinfection, the countless times have also been persistent. As for the 3M mask mentioned in the opening paragraph, whether there is a laser mark is an important sign to distinguish the true from the false.


There are also differences in laser marking: uv laser has unique advantages in food and medical applications


It is well known that there are many types of lasers and the materials for which they are used vary. For example, optical fiber laser is suitable for all kinds of metal materials, CO2 laser is suitable for most of the polymer materials, and ULTRAVIOLET laser is suitable for more precise and higher requirements of the application scene.


In fact, CO2 and fiber lasers have already been developed for marking applications. The light emitted by these lasers is in the infrared band, and the essence of the labeling process is to heat the material to bleach, carbonize or ablate through thermal interaction to produce color contrast. However, this heating will change the chemical structure of the heat-affected area (HAZ) material, resulting in carbonization or surface roughness. For the plastics commonly used in food packaging, the heat generated by infrared laser will damage the surface of some packaging materials due to its low absorption rate of infrared light, so it cannot be used in the food packaging industry on a large scale.


Under such background, the advantage of ULTRAVIOLET laser appears. Most materials absorb ultraviolet light more strongly than infrared light, and the photon energy of ultraviolet laser is higher. When ultraviolet laser ACTS on PI and other high molecular polymers, it can directly break the chemical bonds of materials and make the material fragments discharged in the form of small particles or gaseous state, so as to achieve the purpose of stripping and removing materials. Since most of the energy is used to break chemical bonds, very little energy is converted to heat, thus basically eliminating changes in the heat-affected zone (HAZ) and surrounding materials. For most white plastics (colored bY TiO2), TiO2 strongly absorbs UV light and changes its crystal structure. This makes the material in the corresponding area appear darker, resulting in smooth, legible markings within the material.



Comparison of ULTRAVIOLET and infrared lasers


Uv laser representative enterprises: 2 years sales growth of 177%, market share of more than 20%


Laser marking is one of the biggest application fields of laser processing. Thousands of enterprises at home and abroad are engaged in the production and sales of laser marking machine, and the market demand for laser marking is also huge. Take ultraviolet laser as an example. In 2015, about 3,700 domestic ultraviolet lasers were sold, and in 2018, about 15,000 units were sold, of which nanosecond ultraviolet lasers accounted for 80% (about 12,000 units). It is expected that the sales volume in 2019 will increase by 33% compared with 2018 (data are from the 2019 China Laser Industry Development Report).


With the rapid expansion of ultraviolet laser market, domestic enterprises have also made great progress. According to OFweek Laser Network, the sales volume of Infino nanosecond ULTRAVIOLET laser reached 2,633 units in 2018, accounting for 21.94% of the domestic sales volume that year, ranking the top in China. In 2016, the sales volume was only 947 units (an increase of 177% in two years). In September 2019, The FORMULA series high-power ULTRAVIOLET nanosecond laser technology of Enor Laser was rated as the international advanced level by China Science and Technology Innovation (Beijing) Science and Technology Achievement Evaluation Center and obtained the Science and Technology Achievement Registration certificate of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.




According to the official website of enor laser, the FORMULA series all-in-one high-power laser has the highest average power up to 25W, energy pulse > 500 J, beam quality M2 < 1.2, repeatable frequency range of 30 ~ 300kHz, and can be customized products of more than 30W. In addition, Enor laser has FOTIA series compact medium and low power laser, the power can be adjusted in the range of 500mW ~ 10W according to user demand, the repeating frequency can be adjusted in the range of 30kHz ~ 300kHz, the beam quality M2 < 1.2, can be used in 3D printing, static dynamic identification, PCB/FPC cutting, glass engraving, laser resistance adjustment and other fields.


At present, fiber laser occupies a dominant position in laser processing market, but ultraviolet laser is also becoming an important force in laser processing market. In particular, the anti-counterfeiting market, which has attracted people's attention due to the anti-counterfeiting of masks, will bring new impetus to the development of ULTRAVIOLET laser. In addition, the price of ULTRAVIOLET laser and laser marking machine continues to decline, will also reduce the initial input cost of users, is conducive to promote the ultraviolet laser in the domestic laser processing further popularization.


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