Intro: Laser Etched Dog Tags
Help keep your pet safe by giving them an identification tag in case they get lost. While many pet stores have machines that will create tags for you, if you have a laser cutter at home, why not make your own?
Step 1: Get Tag Blanks
Laserbits.com is a great site if you own a laser cuter and need raw materials to cut. They have a nice selection of anodized aluminum tags in different shapes that you can etch on your laser cutter for your pet, your luggage, or even yourself. I chose the dog bones for my pet.
While the laser is not strong enough to actually cut the aluminum, it is capable of bleaching the color left after the anodization process. This leaves you with a nice silver lettering on your brightly colored tag.
Step 2: Fill in the Details
I created a template for the dog bone shaped tag in Inkscape. You can download the .svg template above and fill in your own details if you choose to use the same bone tag. This will ensure your writing fits in the space available on the tag.
Be sure to convert all of your fonts to paths, this will make it much easier for etching later.
Don't delete any of the boxes, they will make it easier to cut later.
Step 3: Cut a Template
To make sure everything stays lined up, we are going to start by cutting a template. Get a piece of spare thin wood or cardboard (I used some scrap 1/8" birch I had) and tape it down inside your laser.
Using your laser cutter control software, turn the black lines in the Inkscape template to cut lines using the setting you would normally use to cut your chosen template material with your own laser cutter. Set the red lines to a fast speed with a very low power so they do not cut or etch at all. Finally, make the blue lines of your text a low power cutting pass that will lightly etch your chosen material. This will allow you to see what your text is actually going to look like before using it on a tag.
After you cut the part, remove the cut out rectangle from the bed, leaving the remainder of the board taped to the bed. This will leave a nice template hole to place your dog tag into. Make sure to not adjust any of your lasers homing positions or you could lose your registration when you place your new tag in to be etched.
Step 4: Etch Your Tag
Place your dog tag in the freshly cut template hole. Now, adjust your cutting settings again. This time, turn the black and red lines in the template file into fast low power cuts (so they won't actually cut anything) and the blue lines into a slow, high power cut (check your machine for recommended power settings for etching aluminum).
By not removing the outer box in the image template, and not adjusting any of your home/start point settings, you ensure that the text will stay where you want it on the tag.
Step 5: Remove Finished Tag
Be careful removing the tag from the machine! The laser etching process causes the aluminum to become very hot.
Now you should have a perfectly cut tag for your pet. The info on the tag in the picture has been blurred for personal information, but the etch is very clean and readable on the tag itself.
Attach the tag to your pet's collar to help keep them safe!
This process works for aluminum tags of any kind, but you will need to adjust the template file to accommodate tags of different sizes.