Everyone loves lasers.
Everyone loves metal.
From name plates for corporate fat cats to monogrammed brass monocles for burning-man bums everyone has a use for some laser inked metal.

Put the two together and you can get some really cool results. You don't need a super powerful laser to mark on metal if you use a metal marking ink. In this Instructable I'll go over how to use Adobe Illustrator+RetnaEngrave+Cermark to make some cool designs on metal. This can be useful for all sorts of things, from making simple desk nameplates, to large signs, and all designs in between.

"I made it at TechShop"
Techshop is a great place for this project. They have all the necessary equipment and come readily equipped with eager admirers once you show them how awesome laser inked metal can be!

You can check out our other projects at smithallenstudio.com

Step 1: The Right Stuff

To get started you need to get the right stuff.
Unfortunatly it's not that cheap.  There are a ton of instructions out there to other products that work for marking metals, and depending on the product and the base metal they may work okay.  We tried a bunch of stuff on a bunch of different substrates and you really do get what you pay for.  Our advice: get the right stuff.

So you will need:
A vector based drawing program (Adobe Illustrator, Rhino, AutoCAD, etc)
1 laser engraver (Full Spectrum Laser 36x24 used here)
1 can of Cermark (LMM-6000) 
1 sheet of metal to be marked (6061 aluminum shown here) (McMasterCarr or equiv) 
rubbing alcohol+paper towels
nitrile gloves (optional)
plywood to make jigs (optional)
<p>Have you considered dry moly lube?</p>
<p>Have you had any luck with Moly Lube? I recently tried it with no luck! Not sure were I have gone wrong!</p>
<p>I have Italian laser and it is working on EvEdit software it's 130 watt machine.</p><p>Tried to make photo on metal but it is not coming clear can anybody give me trick or solution for this.</p>
I use this same technique to make PCBs
For even better durability couldn't you engrave and then cerakote over the same design?
That is good enough to sell. Very professional. I like it. <br> <br>Steve <br>www.unscramblewords.com
I don't care for the spray or brush on versions of the Cermark or Metalmark products... the tape works much better. The thickness is always exactly the same, you can cut it to exactly the right shape... and I feel there is less waste. <br>http://www.laserbits.com/index.php?main_page=index&amp;cPath=356_359 <br> <br>It's not cheap... but the results are worth it.
I have a 35W Epilog laser.
Great ible! I just made a sick design and etched the back of my ipod with this stuff and it looks great! I used the brush on version of the Cermark but it looks like the spray would be a lot easier to use. Also, I know you're supposed to use a high speed to etch but it just wasnt looking good (to faded) so I ended up using 20% speed 100% power on a 60w laser. I thought it would just burn off the cermark but it worked quite nicely
cool! yea we use a 120 watt and we still haven't been able to burn the stuff off
cool! yea we use a 120 watt and we still haven't been able to burn the stuff off
I love this stuff!
excellent ible, thank you. Helpful as I have just got some of this to try. <br>
Thank you for posting how to work with cermark - i have heard mixed things, but you got great results!

About This Instructable




Bio: Smith|Allen is a design firm based in Oakland California. Our work is interdisciplinary in focus bringing design, innovation, and novel concepts to bear on ... More »
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