Treated metals like anodized aluminum and painted brass work wonderfully with a CO2 laser. However, bare metals are too reflective to absorb the laser and must be pre-treated before engraving. The pre-treatment process is simple, and while engraving pre-treated metals won’t remove any of the material, you are left with a permanent raised mark on your bare metal products.
Two popular laser marking agents include Enduramark and CerMark. There are other brands, and many are available in different formats such as spray, tape, or paste, though the spray version is probably the most popular. All of the bonding agents work similarly, but check the manufacturer’s directions for applying and removing the solution.
The first step is applying the metal-marking agent of your choice. Simply spray the area to be marked. Allow the solution to dry and engrave as you usually would. When the engraving finishes, you can wipe away any excess marking agent with a damp cloth. The result is a permanent and durable mark that stands out.
Fig. 5, 6, and 7 show the metal-marking process we used on a stainless-steel growler.
It’s important to note that it takes a significant amount of power to adhere the bonding agent to the metal. It is an effective method of marking metals with a CO2 laser, but depending on the design’s size and intricacy, it’s not always the fastest process. To ensure the heat from the laser fully bonds the marking agent to the metal you’re working with, we recommend low speed and high power settings. Make sure to check your laser owner’s manual for settings advice, or you can contact the marking agent manufacturer as well.
The most talented laser engraving professionals didn’t become that way overnight. As with any trade, creating beautiful and profitable work on the laser takes time, patience, and practice.