Laser Etching Macintosh Powerbooks.





Introduction: Laser Etching Macintosh Powerbooks.

The appropriate files, laser settings, and methodology for putting your tattoo on your powerbook.

as this was boing boing ed a few weeks back i thought i'd show how it is done...

Step 1: Select Your Artwork.

any bmp, jpg, tif, dxf will do. basically any vector or pixel (bitmap) based artwork. the higher res you can do the better. i like vector because it is scale independent.

Step 2: Lay Out Artwork in Template File.

You can find here the template files (illustrator CS and illustrator 8 versions) where you can lay out your own artwork. stay out of the apple and the red zones and you will be safe. the apple is plastic (don't laser here) and the red border is the radius at edge of laptop.
You can see here the example of my kite file (dxf original) overlayed to fill fully the page and look a little like an engineer's drawing spec...

Step 3: Determine Raster / Vector Style of Work.

the wave is a cool tif or rasterable image. this means the laser treats pixels as pixels and goes side to side as it builds the image.
the kite is vector meaning the laser follows the path of each individual line and therefore much finer detail can be produced.

Step 4: Set Laser Speeds and Feeds Appropriately.

I use an epilog mini:

the nice result setting is 50%speed, 100%power for a bitmap image, 20%speed, 100% power for a vector image.

Step 5: Run and Enjoy.

the end.



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    78 Discussions

    Can you put a picture on the back of an IPad mini2? I heard it's called Laser etching but I'm not sure if it's actually doable?!!! This is the image I want on the back of my IPad!

    1 reply

    It's theoretically possible. The way I do it I convert images in Illustrator using the Image Trace function under the Object Menu. It creates a vector out of an image and converts it to black and white. There are other options for Image Trace but they wouldn't work with the lasers I've used since they only recognize a few different colors and each one has to be mapped to a certain function of the laser. Once you have finished your Image Trace to your liking you can resize it without any loss in detail (Yay, vectors!). Resize it to fit on the back of your iPad Mini 2 and position / rotate it as necessary. Once you've done that then you're pretty much good to go. Just enter in the settings for the laser, get everything in focus, and engrave away. I know this is 2 years old now, but I figured it might be helpful for others who come across it.

    Does anyone how much power and speed I should use for a Epilog or Trotec laser etcher?

    1 reply

    11 years ago

    is there a way that i can do this on a laptop, with a plastic case? thx:)

    8 replies

    Wouldn't the laser melt the plastic..?

    No. The types of lasers used for this work are pulsed (aka there are a bunch of high powered pulses instead of a low powered constant beam coming out of the XY scan head). At those power densities, you're ablating (the common word I think would be vaporizing) whatever the beam is focused on making for very precise details.

    You can only laser engrave approved varieties of plastic. Engraving PVC, for example, would void the warranty on your Epilog.

    Engraving or cutting PVC is very dangerous due to the chlorine gas which can be produced. Not only might it damage the laser cutter but it will damage YOU if you inhale.

    Where would i find a laser capable of etching onto about 20/30 gauge steel? Im making a replica of Arbiter's armpeice from Halo 2-3

    hey lasers are fun we have a high powered pulse laser :D in my wood shop class it's very detailed indeed.

    yeah... I think that technically, you could even laser-etch into skin... it would hurt like all hell, but it's possible.

     I would really like to do this.
    My school requires a MSDS (material Safety data sheet)  for using any new material with the Laser cutter.

    I am trying to figure out what kind of aluminum they use and just find manufacture and a sheet for that.. Any hints?

    1 reply

    Any idea where in the SF Bay Area a mere mortal could have this done for a reasonable price?

    1 reply

    Check out Tech Shop ( You could buy a daily membership and engrave it yourself for cheap.

    I am interested in making a laser etching attachment for my (work in progress) 3-Axis CNC machine. My Brother-in-Law dropped his XBox and donated the remains for this project. I have several questions pertaining to this project :
    1) Will the Class 3B laser enclosed within the XBox DVD-ROM drive have sufficient power to etch commonly available materials ?
    2) What is the Milli-Wattage of this laser ?
    3) What is the Wave-Length of this laser ?
    4) Since I like looking at my surroundings, what class of Safety Glasses should I purchase. Are there any other pertainent issues I've overlooked ?
    Thanks, Mark
    P.S. : I'm conducting this experiment under strictly controlled conditions :
    Door Locked (I have the only key !!!), and with No Visitors, No Phone, and ZERO Distractions. As I'm in my forties, I have learned a few things in my life, like I only have ONE, and I LIKE it !!!

    For those in the Los Angeles area, check out DeviceNineSix has been up and running for about nine months now. We've etched a ton of ipods, laptops and phones in that time (not to mention some truly unique requests like shoes). We are filling both individual and corporate orders. Check out our website or email us at Cheers!

    1 reply