So I can't take credit for the idea. Eric
laser etched nalgene bottles for their family and friends last year. It's hard to find gifts these days that have any character or are special in some way without spending tons of cash. Yeah, yeah, I could make my own presents, but I don't have the time. A demanding job and two little kids will take away anything that even resembles free time.
So for $8-$12, a local REI store and access to a laser cutter, you can impress your friends with a personalized gift that they will actually use. If you want a laser cutter for next years gifts, you still have time to win one worth $15k
It's pretty easy if you're somewhat familiar with a laser cutter. I haven't used it very much, so it took about 5 minutes for someone to show me what to do. The basic concept is that you layout your name using whatever drawing machine is setup for the laser cutter. You measure where it is from the top and left, then do the same measurements on the drawing program and hit print. You can use some cardboard to do test runs to make sure it will be in the correct location.
You'll need to make sure you choose manual focus. This involves adjusting the bed height so that the sensor at the bottom of the laser doesn't touch the water bottle. Since the water bottle isn't level, the auto focus won't work.
The default power and speed will probably be just fine. I did one with them both at 50% and then bumped up the power to 80% and it didn't seem to make much of a difference. I think this laser is 35 watts, but I'll be corrected if it's not.
The one nalgene bottle that I did, came out really clear. It looks pretty cool, but is harder to see. I prefer the camelbak ones as our kids love drinking from them and they are less prone to spilling.
I hope my friends and family like them and aren't looking at my rss feed of projects! I'm pretty sure they aren't.