Well, maybe not forever, but they do last much longer than the plastic tags that come with the plants.
These tags are engraved on the laser using anodized aluminum "Dog Tags" that can be found on sources such as eBay. The laser destroys the dye used during anodizing, but does effect the aluminum to any great degree.
They engrave cleanly and will hold the image for many years, even in the sun and weather. Personalized tags make a great gift for the gardener.
I have not tried the powder-coated stainless steel tags, but I don't think they would engrave as cleanly. If you try them, be sure to leave a comment.
Step 1: Setup a Template for the Laser
Measure the tag with a digital caliper, if you have one. Draw the outline of the tag in you laser program. I also drew the hole, so I would be sure to avoid putting text over the hole. Enable the layer for output and set the laser for a low power and high speed cut. The goal here is to just draw an outline template on a piece of wood, not cut through it.
Place the wood in the machine. It is a good idea to tape or clamp the wood to the laser bed so that it will not move.
Run the job to mark the tag's outline on the wood.
Step 2: Now Create the Text for the Tag
The outline drawn on the wood will enable the precise positioning of each tag. The next step is to engrave the actual text.
Using the template that was already drawn, create the text or image you want to engrave on the tag. If you are simply putting the person's name on the tag, you can use the text to burn all the tags, then come back to do the other side for each type of plant.
Keep the text or image well inside the temp[late, just in case of movement.
Experiment with the power and speed. I used 50% at 300mm/sec for my 60W laser.
Step 3: Place the Tag on the Wood
Place the tag on the wood, aligning it with the template you cut earlier. If you are running air, be sure to tape the tag to keep it from getting blown out of position.
Step 4: Burn the Image
Run the job. Be sure to enable the text layer but DISABLE the outline layer you cut earlier. Keep the outline so that the origin does not change, but make sure it is disabled.
Step 5: Finished Tag
As stated earlier, it you are going to put the same thing on one side of all the tags, simply load the tags and keep running the same job until all the tags are finished. You could make a larger template that would have several tags on it to save time.
Step 6: Make a Presentation Case
All that work engraving the tags, begs for a nice case to put them in. This is a simple tab cut box with felt on the top and bottom. The inserts are laser cut from acrylic. Did you know acrylic #3030 has a very slight green tint. It looks exactly like float glass. It gives it a classy, glassy, look.