Choosing the Right Marking Machine

A marking machine creates permanent or at least durable marking on your products. Common uses include identifying and tracing materials, parts or machines, or marking expiration dates in the food industry. Marking machines should not be confused with industrial printers, which are covered in another buying guide.

View marking machines

  • How to choose a marking machine?

    When choosing which technology you should use, the first thing to determine is the material to be marked (cardboard, metal, glass, wood, plaster, plastic, rubber, etc.). Then it is essential to define the durability and dimensions of the marking; the necessary resolution; the accuracy as well as the speed at which you want to mark products. Lastly, it is necessary to consider the configuration of the machine: should it be hand-held, transportable, simply placed on a table (benchtop) or integrated into a production line?

    There are three main types of technology to facilitate the identification and tracking of your products:

  • How to choose a mechanical marking machine?

    Mechanical marking is performed by making a hollow in the material that will last over time. Several techniques are available. Your choice can be based on the aesthetics of the result or the marking speed (and therefore the material to be marked).

    image roll marking machine

    OP roll marking machine

    Roll marking:

    If the part to be marked is cylindrical in shape, the marking tool (interchangeable characters in a case, engraved block or numberer) comes into contact with the part that is placed on a support of two rollers or threaded onto a pivot. The marking tool rolls the part, and the marking is then performed at the desired depth (depending on the clamping). If the part is flat, it is fixed under the marking tool that rolls over it to mark it. This operation can be manual or motorized (electric). This technology is suitable for metals (brass, steel, aluminum) and plastics. It is mainly used in the mechanical, aeronautical and automotive industries, as well as in metallurgy.

    image impact marking machine

    MARKATOR impact marking machine


    These machines operate on the same principle as roll marking, but instead of rolling the part to be marked, the marking tool strikes it. This technology is suitable for very hard materials such as steel and stainless steel, but also for plastics, leather and wood. It is mainly found in the automotive industry, the plastics industry, and in locksmithing. These machines are available as portable models or can be integrated into a production line. They are either pneumatic or manual.

    image dot peen marking machine

    Technomark dot peen marking machine

    Dot peen marking (punching):

    This technology, which enables the marking of irregular or curved surfaces, uses a punch that moves with a control unit with two motors along an X-axis and a Y-axis. The material to be marked is then punched at precise points, allowing letters or numbers, frames, logos or Datamatrix codes to be drawn. Dot peen marking is either pneumatic or electric, the former being more powerful for deeper marking. This technology is used in the automotive and aeronautic industries (metal or plastic), for mechanical engineering, marking licence plates and and 2D Datamatrix codes.

    image scribe marking machine

    Pryor scribe marking machine


    Scribe marking consists of digging out characters from materials, anything from soft materials (plastics) to the hardest materials. The carbide or diamond tip moves along the X and Y axes and allows characters to be engraved by solid line. This technology is quieter than dot peen marking. These machines can be integrated into a production line. This technology can be found in the automotive industry; metallurgy; energy and transport sectors; construction; etc.

    image hot marking machine

    Matthews Marking Systems hot marking machine

    Hot marking

    Hot marking works in a similar way to impact marking. With this technology the part to be marked comes into contact with a heating block equipped with a marking tool. The heat softens the surface to be marked and allows the mark to penetrate the material. It is possible to interpose a film (ribbon) between the tool and the part to be marked in order to transfer color. This type of machine can be manual or pneumatic. It is used on many materials such as wood, plastic, leather and food (including meat); in the plastics industry, the construction and furniture industry; the leather industry and for promotional items. The machine is placed on a work surface or integrated into a production line.

    There are many advantages to mechanical marking:

    • Durable marking.
    • Unalterable marking.
    • Adjustable marking depth.
    • Computerized marking control.
    • Very easily customizable.
    • Can be done manually or automatically.
    • Can be integrated into a production line, be transportable, handheld or stationary (to be placed on a surface such as a table, benchtop).
    • These machines are particularly suitable for harsh environments as they are highly resistant to shocks and extreme temperatures.
  • How to choose a laser marking machine?

    image laser marking machine

    Gravotech laser marking machine

    Laser marking, also known as laser engraving, is done with a laser beam that is guided by a system of reflective mirrors driven by a PC.
    A software program allows you to draw any combination of characters, 2D codes, Datamatrix codes, barcodes or graphics. A laser marking machine can be transportable or integrated into a production line.

    It has many advantages:

    • Durable marking.
    • Aesthetic marking.
    • Great flexibility of use for the user.
    • Non-contact marking, which does not require handling of the object and can be used for fragile objects.
    • Able to create grayscales.
    • Uniformity and constant depth.
    • Unalterable marking.
    • No change in size or material spillage.
    • Very fast (marking in a few seconds).
    • Very long laser life.
    • Controlled via a computer link.
    • Environmentally friendly (no ink or solvents).
    • Works on almost all materials (metals, polymers, elastomers, ceramics, composites).
    • Able to mark objects when they are stopped or moving on a conveyor belt.
    • Able to create large series or unique markings.
  • How to choose an inkjet marking machine?

    image inkjet marking machine

    Eastman inkjet marking machine

    Inkjet marking allows for fast, high-quality printing. The inks are water-based, ethanol-based, fast drying or UV curing. Inkjet techniques are available by DOD valve jet, non-contact CIJ (continuous inkjet), piezoelectric or thermal jet. The remote projection of small drops of ink allows you to mark drawings, logos, different codes and characters as the part to be marked moves or the marking head moves. This technology meets various needs in terms of different marking size requirements. Inkjet marking is widely used, especially for the following applications:

    • packaging and overpackaging on automatic packaging lines;
    • manufactured or continuously moving products;
    • continuous manufacturing processes (cables, pipes, films, plates, etc.);
    • automated or robotic manufacturing (metal, plastics, wood, cement, etc.).
  • Choose your marking machine according to the material to be marked

    Technology Impact Roll Dot peen Scribe Laser Inkjet Hot
    Metal x x x x x x x
    Plastics x x x x x x x
    Wood x x x x
    Leather x x
    Concrete x x
    Glass x x
    Ceramic x
    Paper x x
    Rubber x x x
    Cardboard x x x
    Textile x x
    Food x
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  • Jorge Naranjo says:

    Felicitaciones. Con ustedes encuemtro y aprendo de las publicaciones de muchos productos. Muchas gracias.

  • baba says:

    Laser technology is so much more versatile than some might believe; what seems like an efficient method of design is also an effective marketing technique and prevents forgery, among other things. Great article

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