What materials can laser marking be used on?

Whether you’re personalising champagne glasses or adding serial numbers to aircraft components, laser marking has become a crucial tool in the manufacturing process. With specialised software, compact and heavy duty formats, ergonomic features and a world of etching, engraving and cutting possibilities, there are many questions to answer before selecting your equipment or solution. So let’s start with the basics before answering one of the most common questions… What material can laser marking be used on?

The basics

Laser marking, also referred to as laser etching or laser engraving, is a method of producing a high-quality permanent mark using a high-energy laser beam. Depending on the wavelength and the type of material being marked, the physical process of laser marking can involve melting, burning, oxidising, engraving or discolouration to create the desired effect.

As with many industrial processes, laser marking has the potential to produce harmful emissions, so it is important to consider whether the system you choose is safe for the application you require. (In addition, workstations need to be equipped with extraction and filtration options, as well as any other health and safety features necessary to protect the user.)

The equipment

There are a number of laser types, each suited to different needs and applications.


  • Ideal for non-metallic materials including glass, plastics, acrylic, textiles, wood and even stone
  • Better for thicker materials
  • High-speed
  • Lower system cost


  • Best for high-contrast marking like metal etching and engraving
  • Long service life with little maintenance
  • Often smaller than CO2 lasers
  • Lower running costs

Hybrid DPSS

  •  Contrasted marking on a range of materials
  • Particularly effective on plastics
  • Compact and efficient


  • Designed for marking highly reflective materials
  • Marks materials which react poorly or not at all to other infrared wavelengths without altering the material
  • High precision

The materials

The versatility of laser marking is hard to overstate. Whether your material is plastic, wood, acrylic, metal, glass, leather… there is little that modern lasers cannot handle. Here is a guide to what material can be marked by which laser*:

METALS Steel, stainless steel
Carbide, carbon
Copper, brass
Copper, brass
Gold, silver, nickel, platinum
ORGANIC MATERIALS Wood, varnished wood
Paper, cardboard, cork
Stone, marble, granite
OTHERS Pottery
Electrical and medical ceramics
Glass, crystal

● = Contrasted marking

○ = Non-contrasted marking

It is also possible to select from a huge range of specially created consumables for laser marking – with choice of material, colour, thickness, sheet size, etc. – and even to have a custom fabrication produced to your own specifications.

The possibilities

By combining your chosen material, the right laser system and the intuitive software that comes with it, you can mark text, serial numbers, logos, bar codes, QR codes and more onto your product. Military, automotive and aerospace, oil and gas, commercial – whatever your area, there is a laser marking solution to suit you.

For more advice on your marking, identification and traceability solution, contact NCB Marking or go to our website.