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Anodized Aluminum -- Banging My Head Against the Wall!

Hey All,

I am sitting here banging my head against the wall trying to get my anodized aluminum settings accurate. I have searched the forum and have tried all of the settings that I have seen on the topic yet still, it takes at least 20 passes to touch the dye. I’ve read where people have shown what they’ve done to anodized aluminum in one pass and I would like to know what you all do in order to get that?

I’m using the Emblaser 2 and have tried cross hatching, higher speeds, lower speeds, small stepovers…you name it. Anything you can recommend to help shed some light on this would be very much appreciated! Below are photos of the pieces I’m using to test on. Thank you!

Hi Lindsay - are you using vectors with fill or are you doing raster engraving?  I don’t get great results rastering a black and white image, but if I redraw it in inkscape and use just vectors and fill, it comes out much better.  Check to make sure there aren’t any finger oils on the metal.  Lastly not every anodized supplier is laser friendly and in some cases different colors will react differently. For me it was the blue one, barely marked it, but then I did a blue pet tag and it was better.  I noticed on the last ones I did, the metal was bent a little so the black marked like a brownish/gray similar to yours on the high spots and crisp white/gray on the low spots.

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Hi Wayne - The SIG logo is a vector (.svg). I was going to throw my hands up and just come to the conclusion that perhaps the metal I got wasn’t laser friendly. But then something interesting just happened. Check out the photos below. The two larger SIG logos are the exact same settings (settings used shown in the second photo), yet they have drastically different results. I have a feeling that something in the Laswerweb software might be off…have you run into something like this before? The job that did the clearly better logo was after I changed the settings around, trying different things, then landed on this one that worked. I then tried it on the blue anodized and it didn’t work (which, sounds like that is your experience with the blue as well). Then I went back to the black and the home x/y location was all out of whack, so I also assume the z was off (laser was really out of focus) and I had to turn off the machine and back on to “reset” it and get it to home correctly. I then put in the exact same settings as before when I got the better logo result, and got the dark brown result. I suspect that perhaps that means there might be a bug in the Laswerweb software, and the first results I got weren’t actually the same settings, even though they appeared to be when I input them. Thoughts? Have you had any experiences like this? Trying to figure out if it’s a bug in Laswerweb or a bug with me and how I’m using the software! Thanks! -Lindsay

Seeing your settings nothing jumps out at me.  I’m sure the answer is no, but any chance you took the mats out during the tests making the z-axis now off by 10mm or changed the z-axis offset from when you calibrated? Glad you got it to work once, now  just have to figure out what the heck is going on with the machine!

Hi Wayne - Unfortunately the mats have stayed in the same place the whole time and it appears that the z-axis offset has also stayed in place. BUT…I think I might try to re-calibrate again just to be sure. I also opened a Laserweb forum post and Domenic is helping me troubleshoot (we’re going to start by cleaning the lens). I’ll let you know if we make any headway there. Have you tried any more anodized aluminum since your post on https://darklylabs.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/community/posts/115000068231-Anodized-Aluminum? If so, were your settings any different than what you gave in that post?

Thanks so much for your help. I’d be lost without this forum!