How to put a design on a metal mug?

So, i just put this in the forums (and i can't see it..) So i thought i'd put it here too.

I want to put my designs on traveller's mugs and other metal mugs and i was thinking, what are the different way i can do this? 
I've seen someone do it with a vinyl and powder coating...but the tools needed to do that are pretty expensive to get here, so that's my last resort. So i was wondering what are the other ways that i can do this? 

I hope you guys can help me out with this.
Thanks :)

P.S I'm new to this.... so can anyone tell me why my forum post isn't showing up? :P

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rickharris15 days ago

You need to make some decisions:

1. How permanent does the design need to be. This may exclude paint in any form.

2. How long are you happy to work to make the design - hand painting etc vs using a machine or stencil.

3. What is the surface if the mug, bare metal, painted, enamel ?

4. How much are you prepared to pay up front to get/build a machine that can do this.

A CNC machine can engrave easily as can a laser. - at a cost.

A stencil is a quick way to repeat a painted design - can be cut out by hand.

Etching is a good way to permanently mark bare metal.

Depending on the metal you might be able to acid etch a design.

AttractiveToast (author)  rickharris14 days ago

I want thw design to be as permanent as possible. And as for how long i can work on it, as long as it takes. This is what i do in my spare time. As for the surface of the mugs, i'm not 100% sure yet since i haven't gotten them yet. The most important thijg though, is rhat i really don't want thisnto be expensive. I'm trying to keep costs to a minimum

One method i heard about from a lot of pwople was to rtch the metal, then paint the etching and then put a varnish over it. Would this work as a permanent solution?

Yes although over a long time the paint may chip out of the etching. It depends on how deep you etch the metal. See videos above.

AttractiveToast (author) 14 days ago

Here is an example of ny designs. Theres more around the cup, but pretty much everything is intricate and all that.


I'd laser etch it, but then, I have a laser to etch with.

The other way is electrolytic etching through a stencil, which would be pretty inexpensive to set up.

Where's "Here" - it helps to at least put your country in your profile, so we don't suggest solutions you can't get whereever you are in the world.

AttractiveToast (author)  steveastrouk15 days ago

Thanks! I added my country and all that to my profile, sorry, I'm new around here so I didn't know about that yet :) I'm from Mauritius... a tiiiiiiny little island in the Indian ocean. And when something comes from overseas, they basically quadruple the price for fun.

Thanks for informing be about electrolytic etching...didn't know about that. I thought of doing some form of etching, but it wouldn't work for all of my designs.. Some of them need some sort of colour differentiation otherwise the design won't look good. I can't attach a picture right now, but i will in a few hours when i get home.

I was also going to try paint or using sharpies directly on the mug and then adding varnish or something on it. But I'm not too sure as to how permanent that is.. Any other ideas? :)

I have a tool somewhere for marking metal which is a sort of tattoo gun ! Only it makes and breaks a circuit with the metal, and the arc blasts a tiny pit. I use it to put serial numbers on parts. If I can find it, I'll try and take a picture and post it. Its very simple, and I suspect you could even make one FROM a very cheap tattoo gun.

I noticed Wikipedia has pages for "Etching" and "Electroetching",

although the one for "Electroetching" is kind of stubby.

Also there may be a few existing instructables for this topic. I tried a Let's make search for, "etch electrolyte"

and a huge number of these results involve the popular toy, Etch-A-Sketch(r), but a few of them seem to be about etching metal, various metals.

Vyger14 days ago

Wow, you guys go all high tech, Fancy designs.

Simpelest is to use a pocket knife and scratch into it what you want.

If you do the electroetching like others have suggested and you do it deep enough, you might be able to fill the depression with paint and then sand around the edges to make it a crisp line