What Are The Types Of CNC Marking?

Are you this person who still uses ink markers to manually mark cut parts and then double-check them with the cutlist on a clipboard? What a drudgery, right?

You probably also know that:

  • Labeling & sorting is a major bottleneck in CNC production, sometimes taking the same time as cutting.
  • It’s prone to errors– after a while, things start to look the same. It can get more confusing especially when pieces of a set are nested on different sheets.
  • Moving parts around the shop floor into a separate marking station increases the risk of damaging the component.

Now, enter CNC Marking.

CNC Marking is the automated process of marking components using a CNC machine, while the parts are still on the cutting bed. The marks printed are to identify parts or to give instructions for secondary production such as edgebanding or boring.

CNC Marking is faster, more accurate and relieves your production from thinking and costly redos from human errors. CNC Marking tools are usually add-on tools and are usually compatible with most routers. Here are the common ones in the market today:

Dot Peen Marking

Also known as micropercussion, pin marking, or impression marking, Dot Peen Marking creates depressions (or dots) in the material using a vibrating tool. The material is pushed back into a recess (or flattens it, which is what “peen” means) and not burned or milled, so no shavings are produced.

Common applications: Metal, plastic


  • Can be used in vertical/horizontal CNC machine centers and lathes
  • Can be mounted in various tool holders and programmed directly from CNC controller
  • Reduced cost (with no consumables except for power)


  • Requires external power such as batteries or pneumatic power
  • Marks are permanent
  • May need different sizes of stylus depending on size of mark

Laser Engraving

Lasers beams can mark by either cutting the material or discoloring it in a distinctive way that helps with identification. Common types of lasers include fiber, crystal, CO2 gas lasers and laser diodes.

Common applications: Wood, leather, plastic, glass


  • Marks without any force to the workpiece so workholding is unaffected
  • Low operation cost (no consumables)
  • Constant quality


  • Higher investment cost for harder surfaces
  • Sometimes has thermal damage on materials; hot edge effect can make the label fuzzy
  • Mark is permanent
  • Emits smoke and sometimes toxic fumes
  • Reflective, brittle or transparent materials are harder to cut

Label Printing

A marking type which prints barcoded stickers via thermal/inkjet printers and applies them onto the material.

Common applications: Wood, metal, glass, plastic, textiles


  • More information can be stored on the barcode, which can be integrated with inventory systems for better tracking
  • Compatible with most CNC software
  • Mark is not permanent


  • If used to print instructions for secondary production, additional work is required to remove labels
  • Uses more consumables (printer paper, ink)

Ink Stamping

A recent innovation which applies a mark by pressing an inked stamp onto the component. It is an automated version of hand stamping.

Common applications: Wood, melamine, plastic, metal


  • Compact and needs minimal storage
  • Economical with cheap consumables (just ink refill)
  • Can be mounted in various tool holders and programmed directly from CNC controller
  • Marks are easily removed by wiping or light sanding
  • Does not need additional external power to work. As such, you can use multiple marking tools without complicating electrical/pneumatic requirements


  • Works on mostly flat surfaces
  • Marks may not be perfect. As such, ink color-coding may be needed as an additional identifier if the print is not 100% legible.

So the next time you pick up that marker, think of how much time and effort you can save by automating your CNC Marking. At CNC Factory, we offer CNC Marking tools that would make the best sense for the woodworker:


Or call us at 714-581-5999. We also offer CNC label printers.

Video link: https://youtu.be/zYOUKqXZUrc

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