Galvo Driven Laser Marking Systems VS Flat Bed (Flying Optic) Systems

Galvo Driven DesignA brief look at capabilities of Galvo Driven Laser Marking Systems VS Flat Bed (Flying Optic) Laser Marking Systems.

When looking into purchasing a Laser Marking System, it is very important to recognize that there are two (2) very distinctly different types of Laser Marking Systems being offered in the market place today.  Among  a host of other smaller differences from one system to another  such as software features for example, the two distinctly different  system designs available consist of the Ultra High Speed/ High Precision Galvanometer (Glavo) Driven and what is known as Flat Bed (Flying Optic) systems.   This is where the most important differences in capabilities are found.  This is very important to consider because not only is the pricing between the designs significantly different, most importantly so are the capabilities.  Galvo Driven Technology is many times faster and more precise than the Flat Bed (Flying Optic) Design and incorporates just two (2) moving parts making the system considerably more reliable.  Galvo Driven designs also allow excellent control over marking depth as opposed to the alternative design.  It is important that these two technologies do not get directly compared to one another  in terms of pricing as they are very different in a multitude of ways which we will begin to explain here within this blog.

Galvanometers are extremely fast and precise motors which when mounted with mirrors can direct a beam of light with incredible precision and repeatability.  There are two (2) of these motors on a typical Galvo Driven Laser Marking System.  One Motor controls the movement for the X-Axis and the other controls the movement for the Y-Axis. On today’s modern Galvo Driven Systems, these are the only two parts that move with the exception of a Safety Shutter and any material handling equipment that may be supplied as part of the system or which the system may be interfaced with after purchase.  These incredible motors have been used in the laser industry for more than 25 years now and they have proven to be incredibly consistent and reliable.  It is not uncommon to see systems nearly 20 years old that have never had requirement for a Galvo Motor replacement.  It is a very sound technology and it continues to improve year after year.

Galvo Driven Systems can work using Vector or Raster based images where as the Flat Bed (Flying Optic) Systems utilize only Raster based artwork.  This is to say that Galvo driven systems actually draw characters or images much as someone would create the same image by hand using a pen and paper.  You have the control to speed the laser up or down and/or adjust power & frequency of the laser giving you complete control over the accuracy and penetration of the laser into the work surface.  In contrast the Flat Bed (Flying Optic) style laser systems have a head that physically travels back and forth on an assembly of belts, pulley’s and guides and dropping pulses of energy as it passes each time eventually creating an image. It is a very similar concept to the older plotters and Dot Matrix Printers only it drops pulses of light energy in place of ink.  It’s something that may be easier to see and experience for yourself than to have explained but one thing is for certain, you do not have near the control or the precision that you can get using a Galvo Driven system design.

The one design feature that is typically viewed as being a benefit with the Flat Bed (Flying Optic) style systems is the fact that they come with a fairly large bed area and can accommodate sometimes dozens of parts at one time.  Up to 48 pieces potentially depending on the size of your parts.  We often come by customers who feel it would be beneficial to have an operator be able to load up a large number of parts at one time and let the machine run, however when you look at the overall cycle time to complete the process, you could have marked potentially several times as many pieces in that same period using a Galvo Driven system.  The difference is that without the addition of material handling equipment such as a rotary table or a programmable X/Y table or a shuttle feeder etc.,  a typical Galvo Driven Laser system will be supplied with an optic that will provide a fixed marking field that might be in the area of approximately 220mm (8.66”) in diameter.  This is to say that the number of parts you could fixture within that area at any one time and how quickly an operator could load and unload the system will have a direct impact on the throughput that could be achieved.  There is no question that if you have a high volume of parts and you are looking to optimize throughput, that you should look to the Galvo Driven Technology, but also consider the many material handling options that are available from Millennium Signatures or have your laser system integrated to an existing material handling process for best results.

As mentioned Marking Depth is also an important consideration for some applications.  Getting marking depth is a function of several things.  You need to have enough power from your laser, you need the right spot size and a combination of the right speed and frequency settings to optimize the marking such that enough material is either vaporized or blown out of the cavity to give the required marking depth.  It is just not possible to control these parameters with a Flat Bed (Flying Optic) System design.

The other limitation that comes with purchasing Flat Bed (Flying Optic) Style Laser Systems is the size and depth of the products you can mark.  They are somewhat effective on small product that is a few inches deep or less such as pens and plaques and other low profile items.  However, using Galvo Driven Laser Technology such as those systems offered by Millennium Signatures Marking Systems Inc., you have the ability to mark parts of virtually any size and shape.  In some cases standard part marking enclosures will not accommodate all parts of all sizes, but there are lots of options that can be exercised for marking without standard enclosure.  Custom enclosures can be built or the Galvo Driven design is versatile enough to be mounted on gantry’s or integrated onto existing lines which would allow marking to be done from various angles as well if required.  There is so much versatility and capability incorporated into a Galvo Driven System design and customers need to be aware of all the advantages and limitations before making a decision to buy.

Millennium Signatures Marking Systems Inc., is an exclusive Canadian Distributor for Electrox Lasers and now has 23+ Years working specifically with various Galvo Driven Laser Marking Systems including Nd:YAG, Nd:YV04, Fibre and CO2.

For more information on Laser Marking Systems and/or Laser Safety, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Technical Sales Team at (905) 639-0909 or by e-mail at