Laser Engrave Metal

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Introduction: Laser Engrave Metal

About: Welcome to my profile. My name is Matthias and I am BrittLiv's boyfriend. She also uses this account to post some quick instructabes that she deems too simple for her main account.

Being able to engrave metal was one of the main reasons, why I got a laser cutter.

In this instructable I am going to show you some of my experiences.

Please share your results and experiences in the comments, I would love to learn more about engraving metals.

A word of warning: The process of engraving metal after applying an agent to the surface is patented. So please inform yourself, before doing so commercially.

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Step 1: Engraving Stainless Steel

In the picture you can see the different things I tried to engrave stainless steel.

  1. Just the metal
  2. CRC Dry Moly Lube
  3. Weicon MoS2
  4. MoS2 Powder
  5. MoS2 Paste
  6. markSolid 114

In order to use the powder I mixed it with isopropyl alcohol until I had a thick paste an applied it with a disposable brush.

Step 2: Engraving Stainless Steel

As you can see I used different speed and strength setting to see what works best. The first number is the speed and the second the energy percentage. I have a cheap 60 W Chinese CO2 laser and as you can see some of the setting worked really well.

Out of all the metals I tried to engrave, stainless steel definitely worked best. As you can see in the picture out of all the things I tried, CRC Dry Moly Lube and markSolid 114 gave the nicest results.

materialvisibilityscratch resistantalcohol resistant
1. Just the metal(✔)(✔)(✔)
2. CRC Dry Moly Lube ✔✔✔✔✔✔
3. Weicon MoS✔✔✔✔
4. MoS2 Powder✔✔✔✔
5. MoS2 Paste✔✔✔✔
6. markSolid 114✔✔✔✔✔✔

"-": didn't work

"(✔)": kind of worked

"✔": worked well

"✔✔": worked really well

Step 3: Engraving Copper

Most of the engraving agents I tired didn't work. Only markSolid 114 gave some nice results. I was even able to polish the results. Sadly the engraving wasn't really scratch resistant.

materialvisibilityscratch resistantalcohol resistant
1. Just the metal---
2. CRC Dry Moly Lube (✔)--
3. Weicon MoS---
4. MoS2 Powder---
5. MoS2 Paste---
6. markSolid 114✔✔(✔)(✔)

Step 4: Engraving Aluminium

Once again most of the engraving agents didn't work. Only after using markSolid 114 the engraving was still visible. Sadly the result was not at all scratch resistant and was easily removed with alcohol. Overall you can definitely say that the cheap alternatives aren't working for copper and aluminium. Btw. covering the engraving with sealer helped a lot with the result.

materialvisibilityscratch resistantalcohol resistant
1. Just the metal---
2. CRC Dry Moly Lube ---
3. Weicon MoS---
4. MoS2 Powder---
5. MoS2 Paste---
6. markSolid 114--

Step 5: Engraving a Hip Flask

Lately I have been engraving a lot of hip flasks. Due to them being out of stainless steel, it works really well.

Start by cleaning it with isopropyl alcohol and mark your focus point. Afterwards place it into the laser, as well as something that helps you to later find the position. Focusing is a bit tricky, due to the bend surface. I focused between the start point and highest point and it worked really well.

As you can see in the picture I used CRC Dry Moly Lube. Cover the surface with it and let it dry for about 5 minutes. Afterwards you can place it back into the laser and start engraving. To remove the residue you can use isopropyl alcohol.

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    23 Discussions

    0
    gm280
    gm280

    2 years ago

    We own a large bed Universal LASER engraver. But it won't do any metals at all. And that is because the type LASER used. Ours is a CO2 LASER system and therefore doesn't have the proper LASER frequency to do metals. They make dual LASER systems that have a CO2 LASER and another type used for metal engraving. I tried things and the CO2 system merely does nothing to even copper.

    0
    NandoS8
    NandoS8

    Reply 2 months ago

    Hi... Does it work on silver and gold??

    0
    brichtl
    brichtl

    Reply 2 years ago

    I have a CO2 laser as well. Without any engraving agent it only left some visible markings on the stainless steel, as you can see in the pictures

    0
    DrewM13
    DrewM13

    Reply 2 years ago

    What is the wattage of your C02? Do you think the K40 Laser would etch metal using this method?

    0
    soceraso
    soceraso

    Question 1 year ago

    Is the MarkSolid114 conductive? I wonder if this process could be used to make soldermask for PCBs...

    0
    ElectroFrank
    ElectroFrank

    2 years ago

    I would guess that aluminium and copper will be difficult because they have high heat conductivity, the heat being dissipated (as in a heat sink) before it burns away (vapourises ?) the metal. So metals with lower heat conductivity (and lower melting/boiling points) will probably work best.

    0
    soceraso
    soceraso

    Reply 1 year ago

    that seems mostly right except that its probably pulling heat away from the spray-on compound too quickly for the compound to harden/adhere to the metal. The spray-on compounds he's using are bonding to the metal with the laser energy. The metal's not vaporizing in that case

    0
    jalesi1978
    jalesi1978

    Question 1 year ago

    What CO2 laser do you have? Or what can you recommend for stainless steel.

    0
    WyldStyl3
    WyldStyl3

    2 years ago

    I've been looking for a cheap laser to mark stainless and titanium. Nicely done! Do you know if you are able to mark titanium?

    0
    k8e
    k8e

    2 years ago

    - Please explain the 'patented' comment - regarding the commercial work - I know MANY people are doing this - so, What is the warning for specifically? Like this - thanks for the tutorial.

    0
    MarioB137
    MarioB137

    2 years ago

    Very nice work and quite a scientific aproach! I tried the Weicon MOS spray too, but the result were as underwhelming as in your case. Might pick up the CRC lube. Thank you!

    Another thing I want to try is covering the steel with paint or spray plastic and burning it off with the engraver, then etching with vinegar and an adjustable power supply. After that just removing the plastic/laquer with paint thinner. Should give a nice deep etch where the laser removed the masking. :)

    1
    EwgeniyK
    EwgeniyK

    2 years ago

    Guys, try heat-conductive paste applied to the CPU heatsink computers. In Russia this КТП-8. On any metal well. Apply a thin layer.

    PPFcsJSSoBA.jpg21J_mqG6Fw4.jpg9HAPNixfY7U.jpgu77R1Bow6GQ.jpgjh5f-BNQfiY.jpgkpt_8.JPG
    0
    brichtl
    brichtl

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks a lot for the tip! I am definitely going to try that.

    0
    levasc
    levasc

    Reply 2 years ago

    Спасибо за инфу!

    0
    EwgeniyK
    EwgeniyK

    Reply 2 years ago

    Пожалуйста. Не моя идея, один добрый человек, года 3-4 назад, поделился на форуме mir-cnc.ru

    1
    fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u

    2 years ago

    It's amazing to consider that there's one other marking compound that should be used for stainless steel. It's grey poupon mustard!

    https://youtu.be/B60nXwhK9gk

    0
    brichtl
    brichtl

    Reply 2 years ago

    Very interesting, thanks for posting that out

    0
    jpfalt
    jpfalt

    2 years ago

    What power levels and travel speeds did you use for the engraving?

    0
    brichtl
    brichtl

    Reply 2 years ago

    The first number is the speed and the second the energy percentage.