Part Marking using Pad Printing and Laser Engraving

By Protolabs

When designing parts for injection moulding, you may need to consider finishing options. This can help: improve a part’s mechanical properties, enhance surface finishes, facilitate the final assembly process, customise your part.

A popular finishing option with our customers is the part marking service - using either the pad printing process or laser engraving.

Pad Printing, Part Marking
Part marking using pad printing is a common finishing option. Seen here on a Quantra blood analysis machine made by HemoSonics.

Pad Printing Plastic Parts

Pad printing transfers a 2D image, such as a company logo, onto a 3D object. Examples abound. You’ll see items marked with pad printing everywhere:

  • Household appliances
  • Consumer electronics
  • Buttons
  • Computer keyboards
  • Toys
  • Golf balls

All images are reviewed for size, colour, and complexity restrictions. In addition, images for printing should be provided with locations clearly marked in reference to part geometry. PM-TI and MT11010 are the most aggressive textures we can pad print. Required lead time for pad printing at Protolabs typically adds three-plus business days to your parts order.

Laser Engraving for Serial Numbers and Part Numbers

Laser engraving is another option for part identification. It is applied to the mould or directly onto the parts. Laser engraving is frequently used for information such as:

  • Logos
  • Serial numbers
  • Part numbers.

Laser marking ensures crisp, consistent information on each part. Acetals, and high temperature materials are not suitable for laser engraving. Lead time typically adds four-plus business days to your parts order and, nine-plus business days to your mould order.

Required Inputs for Part Marking

So, what are the required inputs for these part marking options?

For pad printing we’ll need:

  1. CAD/part link
  2. 2D drawing that notes the location of the graphics
  3. Adobe Illustrator file noting the size of the graphics
  4. Quantity of the part
  5. Colour specification (Pantone #)
  6. Material of the part (only ABS, PC, ABS/PC are available for now at Protolabs for this option)

For laser engraving we'll need:,

  1. Drawing or CAD identifying size
  2. Location and depth of the engraving
  3. Part quantity (if applicable)
  4. Material

The pad printing and laser engraving part marking services are part of a wide selection of finishing options for injection moulding. These services provide a number of benefits: strengthening parts, improving cosmetic appearance and custom appearance.

Beyond part marking, these include: custom colour matching, threaded inserts, and basic assembly. These finishing options add to our capabilities as a single-supplier manufacturer with in-house tooling and part production. You can use Protolabs throughout your product development process. From early development and prototyping, through on-demand production process for end-use parts, and secondary options and finishing.

For additional help, feel free to contact us at +44 (0) 1952 683047 or [email protected]. To get your next design project started today, simply upload a 3D CAD model for an interactive quote within hours.