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9 Processing Tips for Engraving Metal

When engraving and cutting hard metals, you’ll first want to consult your sales representative for advice and guidance.

When surface engraving metals, consider using a rotating diamond cutter. It provides a wider scratch in comparison to drag diamonds. You can also rotate the diamond to yield a deeper and wider cut line.

If enough depth is desired to paint-fill the engraving (.005 +), you’ll want to use a carbide cutter.

For best engraving results, select the cutter designed for your material (soft metals or hard metals). Stainless steel calls for more specialized 1/4-round cutters and lubrication.

For the cleanest cuts, be sure to adjust your feed rates and cutter rotation speeds.

Engraving harder metals requires you to increase the spindle downforce spring to force the cutter into the material. If the spring tension is too light, the cutter may not achieve or maintain a consistent cutting depth.

When cutting stainless steel, tool steel, or hardened metals, you benefit by using an optional collet spindle or high-frequency spindle and lubrication system.

There will be some trial and error while you dial in the best settings for your machine on any given material. Once you arrive at the best material setup, it is saved with the engraving job and can easily be recalled and used on similar materials in the future.

Start with very low X, Y, and Z feed rates and increase them until you find the fastest settings while maintaining good cut line quality and preserving the cutter. If your Z plunge rate is too fast, you risk fracturing the cutter tip on impact with the material.

Learn more: The difference between laser engraving, etching, and marking

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Anthony Harris, Gravotech

Anthony Harris

Anthony Harris is the director of government sales and applications at Gravotech. He has over 16 years of experience consulting with clients and partners in the marking materials, engraving routers, and laser processing industry.

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