The biggest issue with powder coat is that you typically need a conductive base for application (i.e. metals), seemingly limiting its use. I refused to believe that I could only powder coat certain things, and therefore wanted to do all I could to push powder coating technology into new arenas.
Additionally, I had done some work before on lasering ceramic tiles. I ended up really liking the effect of having a shiny glazed surface right next to a gritty textured, bare sintered tile. However, I really wanted there to be some way to increase the depth of this effect - was there any way to add more colors?
I decided to combine both the ideas to use a laser as both an etching instrument and a powder coat mask creating instrument. Additionally, I ended up figuring out a way to get enough conductivity on a ceramic tile to apply powder coat evenly to a non-conductive surface! The end result? Some sweet Legend of Zelda themed tiles (that I ended up turning into coasters for now).
Step 1: Find thee some tiles!
Don't want to use the tiles I did? No problem. Here's some tips for picking a nice tile that looks cool when you are done lasering it:
- Really light colors or really dark colors look a lot better than neutral colors. Remember that the underlying ceramic will be a gray color which only becomes noticeable if the color of the tile ceramic stands out against the color of the tile.
- Shiny tiles don't work so well. My guess is that you get some reflection of the laser, and you get more "etching" than cutting of the underlying material.
- If you need these to fit into something, don't trust the sizes of tiles to be perfect. The size of the tile is pretty much always overstated...you know how those marketing people work. The 4" x 4" tiles that I purchased were about 3.6" x 3.6". So, if you need your tile to fit something, buy 1 first, before you plan a magnificent Legend of Zelda fresco around tiles that are the incorrect size :).