Darkly Labs Community

Anodized Aluminum

Haven’t posted anything in a while, mostly because I never remember to take pics anymore. Made a couple of book markers for the kids and shelf labels for work (a lot of those!). Plenty of pet name tags in the past few months as well.  I get all of the anodized aluminum parts from chewbarka.com. The book marks are their thin business card stock.  Red, black and purple came out great, the blue wasn’t as crisp and the other colors are still in a pile waiting for a project. The bracelet stock I used for the shelf labels was all bent up, but was easy to get back into shape.

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Nice work Wayne.  We don’t see much with Aluminium posted. 

They look great Wayne.

Its interesting that the blue wasn’t as crisp. I would have expected it be more difficult to engrave because of the fact we are using a laser in the blue spectrum. It would be interesting to try and engrave a blue label using a slower engraving speed to see whether that helped sharpen it up.


The nice thing is if you don’t move it, you can keep blasting away without damaging anything!  I ran the blue book mark a couple of times and at different settings, but the image never really jumped out like on the other colors.  I didn’t even think of issues with blue color with a blue laser.

Red and purple were easy as can be, but I did notice something with the black.  I flattened out the metal as best as I could, but there were still some wavy bumps.  The higher spots came out much clearer then then lower ones, crisp and clear vs kind of brownish.  It is fractions of a mm difference between the high and low spots, but enough to affect the performance and create a color difference. Could make for some interesting grayscale/halftone project with the E2 and messing with the height setting.

Hi Wayne, 


What settings did you use for your machine to engrave these?


Anywhere from 850mm/min to 1200mm/min. I usually go overkill when doing these since you can’t hurt the metal (or slate when doing coasters) by using a small stepover (0.007"), a 45deg cross hatch, 100% power and a slower speed.  The difference between 850 and 1200mm/min was only about two minutes on the run time estimator.

Does the laser basically just burn away the anodized layer on top of the aluminum?

It burns the dye that is part of the anodize process, but the part is still anodized so there is no impact to part’s corrosion resistance. We used to nickle plate everything at work and then use Cermark to mark everything.  One day our laser guy suggested anodize instead and the cost for plating and marking dropped to almost nothing and the final part looks top notch. 

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Hi Wayne!
Are you using the E1 or 2? I have been trying tirelessly all morning here (Canada) to engrave an anodized aluminum dog tag with Laserweb (E2) and I can’t get it to make a mark :thinking:
I’ve slowed it down, changed height settings, multiple passes and no luck! I’m testing on the dog tags in hopes of being able to engravable anodized aluminum flasks for a friend’s wedding :o
Any guidance at all would be amazing. I don’t even understand what a cross hatch is :joy: is this something that was in the E1 software?

Hi Cassandra - there are different types of anodization. I don’t know what they are officially called but my buddy has a 40 watt CO2 and can’t mark “hard anodized” coatings.  I’ve had issues with certain colors on the E1 and E2 (like blues) that just don’t come up nicely.  Any oils on the surface will also cause frustrations. I get all my stuff from chewbarka.com, not sure it will be much help on the flasks though.

Cross hatch was a default that I always used with the E1, I found that the end result was always better then without it beause it will take care of any hic-ups at occured along the way.  It moves the laser in one direction, then reruns it 45-90 degrees to make X patterns.  In LaserWeb create another tool path and make change the angle, then a third for an outline.  Cut2D it was only operation, in LW its 3.

What color is the flask and dog tag?

Thank you so so much! Craziest thing? I’d never used any operations other than laser cut and raster! This has been an experience for sure. I couldn’t get the dog tag to work, it was a glossy pink, but I moved on to the flask anyway, and using your settings it was perfect! I did both the outline (SVG and a raster from a PNG and I’m thrilled with the results :slight_smile:
Thanks so much!

Glad ti hear it worked out - now lets see some pics in the project showcase! Just a side not I talked to my buddy last night and he mentioned that, the dog tag coating may have been for scratch/drag etching or stamping and not lasering.

Thank you so much again! I think you’re right! It’s practically impenetrable :joy: luckily the flasks were not :smiley: I’ll post a photo asap :slight_smile: