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When you mix plastic with heat, we know heat wins every time. The idea of laser engraving directly onto plastic sounds like an impossible task, but our team at Piazza Rosa in Belluno, Italy used their expertise to etch a plastic PET bottle with beautiful results.

The customer, P.E.T. Engineering, wanted to create prototype bottles that were laser engraved with an intricate design to show how the product could be labeled without using a plastic sleeve. The plastic was treated with an additive from the Gabriel-Chemie company, that changed its composition, so it could be successfully engraved by our team.

Marzio Dal Farra, Technical Manager Laser Engraving said, “I knew the most important task was to change the surface color to black to match the dark pigment of PET, and not burn everything. So, I had to reduce the machine’s power and apply it for a longer period of time until a good color was reached. The second challenge was to make the application flawless using 5-axis machining on an imperfect plastic part, allowing for some tolerance from the 3D file. We used our experience and knowledge to create a machine program that could hide the divergence from the 3D model.”

Marzio explained that with the right amount of heat, power and time, the process was the ideal application to create a prototype that PET Engineering recently displayed at the “All for PACK” packaging exhibition in Paris, France. This large trade show featured 1,350 exhibitors, representing 60 countries with 80,000 visitors in attendance. The display was called “Moby” and showcased how directly laser engraving onto the plastic bottle could have the same beautifully detailed results as printing with ink on a plastic sleeve. The team is looking forward to applying this technology to more projects for our customers.