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Marking machinery includes all equipment used to label, tag, etch, ink or otherwise mark manufactured products. Marking can be performed on virtually any material, including glass, metal, paper, cardboard and plastic, although the equipment employed varies based on the application. Some of the most widely used marking devices are printers (ink and laser), bar code labelers, hot stamping systems and etching machinery. Laser marking and engraving equipment, scribe marking systems and stenciling devices are also used.

The marking process is useful for marketing, commercial and industrial purposes. Logos and other branding designs are used to enhance the aesthetic appeal; bar codes and labels provide tracking and stocking solutions for retailers and manufacturers; and part and serial numbers enable manufacturers to differentiate and track individual products. These numbers also provide a means for tracing lost and stolen goods, or for locating replacement parts for used equipment.

The function of most marking machines are somewhat self-explanatory; ink jet printers, for example, shoot bursts of ink through a set of nozzles, creating a dot pattern on the work piece. Laser marking equipment utilizes a high-energy laser beam to actually change the physical characteristics of the surface, burning away certain sections of the work piece. Laser printing, on the other hand, actually applies heat-melted toner to a surface. The pattern with which this toner is put on the paper or work piece is determined by an image drawn on the device’s internal drum. This image is generated by lasers or other lighting elements, which are fired at the drum according to the specified input signal. The lasers temporarily impart the drum with the image, resulting in an electrostatic charge in the exposed sections of the drum. This charge attracts the minute toner particles and then the drum deposits the particles on the work piece; a fuser device soon bonds the toner in place.

The majority of industries use some type of marking equipment, whether it is as simple as a hand etching or as complex as a full printing assembly. In the vast majority of cases, the application, material and production goals will determine the nature of the marking machinery that is employed. As an example, metal products and components will not accept a variety of dyes, inks and adhesives regularly used on other surfaces, while certain chemical etching procedures used on metal might not be suitable for long-run production.

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