Last Minute Christmas Gift: Laser Etched Water Bottles

About: Usually making something on this site.

So I can't take credit for the idea. Eric and Christy laser etched nalgene bottles for their family and friends last year. It's hard to find gifts these days that have any character or are special in some way without spending tons of cash. Yeah, yeah, I could make my own presents, but I don't have the time. A demanding job and two little kids will take away anything that even resembles free time.

So for $8-$12, a local REI store and access to a laser cutter, you can impress your friends with a personalized gift that they will actually use. If you want a laser cutter for next years gifts, you still have time to win one worth $15k.

It's pretty easy if you're somewhat familiar with a laser cutter. I haven't used it very much, so it took about 5 minutes for someone to show me what to do. The basic concept is that you layout your name using whatever drawing machine is setup for the laser cutter. You measure where it is from the top and left, then do the same measurements on the drawing program and hit print. You can use some cardboard to do test runs to make sure it will be in the correct location.

You'll need to make sure you choose manual focus. This involves adjusting the bed height so that the sensor at the bottom of the laser doesn't touch the water bottle. Since the water bottle isn't level, the auto focus won't work.

The default power and speed will probably be just fine. I did one with them both at 50% and then bumped up the power to 80% and it didn't seem to make much of a difference. I think this laser is 35 watts, but I'll be corrected if it's not.

The one nalgene bottle that I did, came out really clear. It looks pretty cool, but is harder to see. I prefer the camelbak ones as our kids love drinking from them and they are less prone to spilling.

I hope my friends and family like them and aren't looking at my rss feed of projects! I'm pretty sure they aren't.

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    14 Discussions

    lebowskiJr Hacking kid

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    We are actually in the process of getting a new laser cutter. We have had a laser cutter at the Maker Faire and the Web 2.0 expo. So if you can make it to one of our events or come by our office in San Francisco, we'll be happy to etch anything for you.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I noticed it looked like you used some kind of focusing template to get it right. It's not necessary with a Epilog like you were using. Simply hit "X/Y off", move the head to the top arc of the bottle and focus manually. Move it back to your starting point and hit "Set Home."

    Also if you laser through masking tape with a high enough wattage to get a bit of depth past the mask you can spray a contrasting color with Krylon Fusion paints.

    Lastly, there is a rotary attachment for the Epilogs that will let you engrave *around* the bottle. I LOVE my Epilog!!!

    Nice tip for Christmas presents. Thanks.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I just have one very important question...HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO POST A SLIDESHOW ON THIS?I've been trying to upload a powerpoint presentation onto this website,but it won't work! (please tell me)

    1 reply

    11 years ago on Introduction

    awesome!! o wait I almost forgot... I DON'T HAVE A LASER ENGRAVER!?! lol


    11 years ago on Introduction

    thats a cool idea! i like the picture of your dog in your account picture.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    awesome! check out mine if you want, about the buzzing frog its like a random toy.. but a great (random) gift!