What is dot peen marking?

Dot peen marking, also known as indent marking, or simply ‘dot peen’, is an electromechanically controlled engraving machine that moves across a surface in quick succession. One after another, these small indents, or dots, combine to create serial numbers, dates, text and logos – the results are customisable and permanent.

In this article, we’ll look at:

  • History
  • Features
  • Benefits
  • Applications
  • Compliance & industry standards

Dot peen marking technology and its history

Dot peen marking systems have become integral to a range of industries and are vital for ensuring the safety of consumers everywhere. The introduction of mass production and consumerism changed society as we knew it, and as the volume of products increased, the need for tracking parts and products became ever more pressing. Industrial traceability was soon to become an industry standard.

NCB Marking Ford Assembly Line

As commercial mass production began to popularise in the late 1910s and 1920s by companies such as Ford, assembly lines were beginning to systematically streamline the production of products more efficiently and cost-effective than ever before. The introduction of advertising propelled consumer demands and a new era of consumerism was born.

Today, industrial traceability is not just a preference, but a standard. Businesses globally rely on dot peen marking technology to provide a consistent, high-quality consumer experience. In this ultimate guide to dot peen marking, we’ll explore the features, benefits and applications of this understated, important process.

Indent marking machines: Features


Although dot peen marking machines are predominantly used on metal, they can be used on a range of materials – this includes timber and plastic applications.

Dot peen marking depth

The only requirement is that the material is thick enough to withstand the indent. For example, dot peen marking may not be the best marking technology for the wrapper of a chocolate bar. A key feature for dot peen marking is the ability to adjust marking depth to suit the specific application.


  • All-in-one integrated battery and electronic use
  • Waist belt
  • Wide programmable touchscreen
  • Intelligent, intuitive technology
  • Barcode reader

Industrial engraving machines: Benefits

Dot peen marking gives the opportunity for the consumer to trace back to a singular part or product if it has failed or is faulty. Proper traceability is a matter of consumer safety and the benefits of using a durable, high-precision dot peen machine are noticeable.

  • Speed – The Propen M7000 oscillates at 300x a second on an X Y coordinate. Large quantities of industrial traceability marks can be produced in succession.
  • Quality – Dot peen marking systems provide an excellent quality finish that shows an easily distinguished traceability mark.
  • Accuracy – The CNC display ensures optimum accuracy is achieved. The machine indents using the data that is programmed into it.
  • Ease of use – The easily adjusted battery belt allows for full mobility in a range of environments
  • Portability – The easily adjusted battery belt allows for full mobility in a range of environments. Users can navigate around industrial environments with ease.
  • Robustness – The machine itself serves well in production lines across a large variety of industries as it is custom built for industrial environments.


In a number of industries, being able to trace a particular part to a machine is extremely valuable. Hypothetically speaking, if there is an outbreak of salmonella in a factory, investigators are able to trace back to that exact factory, date and assembly line. Similarly, if there is a failure on a plane, each part will be individually marked with a dot peen traceability marker and the fault can be identified quickly and easily.

Although applications extend far across multiple industries, examples include:

  • Precision engineered parts
  • Aerospace
  • Motorsport
  • Nuclear


NCB motor dot peen marking

Dot peen marking vs laser marking

What’s the difference?

  • Laser marking generates heat and fumes whereas dot peen marking etches the material with minimal force
  • Low tolerance for surface irregularity
  • Can create inconsistent marks on unclean surfaces
  • Unlike dot peen, the marks used during laser marking are not as deep. As a result, they may not be suitable for harsh, industrial environments.

Compliance in industry

As explored above, industrial traceability is important in a range of industries. Particularly in strictly regulated industries such as healthcare, food and beverage and consumer packaged goods, the importance of traceability during the supply chain is paramount.

Laws and regulations change continuously and, as a result, it is important to use a dot peen marking system that is adaptable and easy to use under changing circumstances. The dot peen system allows organisations to adhere to a compliant, granular approach to the traceability of products and parts.