Alternative for masking tape?

Hello there!

Let me start by saying I love the masking tape. It avoids the burn marks and its perfect to protect the material or even great for when you need to paint engraved areas. However, when you are mass producing stuff that has engraving, it can turn into a little pain in the butt.

What alternatives are out there to protect the meterial from burns and that is easy (or easier) to clean? Masking sticks to material a lot because of the glue and it can be annoying at times, alternatives? tricks? tips on how to clean to remove it faster? My thumb will appreciate it

gorilla tape… removes masking fast.

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Plastic razor blades are my favorite. The Gorilla tape works great, but gets a little spendy for my tastes if you’re doing a lot of stuff. :wink:


That’s what I was thinking about $$$… I have a bunch of plastic razor blades… I will give that a try!!! The only problem I am still having is the “glue” kind of melts into the engraved area and if i dont use a rag with soapy water and rub it off A LOT then it leaves a “haze”

I don’t mask engraves for that reason – you also lose a lot of fine detail to the masking. If you can cut the pieces first, or run a score around them, then peel the masking from the engrave areas (without moving the material in the bed), then engrave, you’ll save a lot of work. The remaining masking protects the rest of the material from smoke marks, and you’ll have more defined engraves and less glue-cleaning work. :slight_smile:


That is a great idea! I will give that a shot. You are right, what basically burns the material is the CUT not the engrave! Brilliant


For acrylic I remove all masking and put a sheet of copy paper between acrylics and crumbtray to eliminate flashback. Just keep a close eye in case fire, which is wise for acrylic in general.

For woods- a lot of people have reported that alcohol works well to remove smoke stains from unmasked pieces. Either in wipes or hand sanitizer form.


Thanks for the tip!

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In a production environment I pull the mask to prevent all of the time consuming weeding as suggested, and I have found household ammonia to be much more effective at removing the smoke stain.
When faced with weeding 6,000 tokens engraved both sides weeding just wasn’t an option, and in exploring an alternative stumbled on ammonia which is at least twice as effective as alcohol in terms of time.

Also, cleaning soon after the operation is best. I found cleaning the next day was a bit slower. I’m assuming the residue dries or oxidizes, but it hardens over time.


For engravings, do you use a toothbrush, or a cloth?

No, I haven’t much explored cleaning the interior of an engrave, the tokens were all text. I use the ammonia to clean the surrounding surface.
When I have worked to clean one I used a toothbrush.
I have seen some examples of engraves so clean they looked like they were sandblasted. I have no idea how that was accomplished. :no_mouth:


What material are you using for the tokens? I am using plastic and I’ve noticed alcohol ruins the engraving, it starts getting this “white haze” that I have to literally rub with a cloth and soapy water for a while to make it go away and sometimes it doesnt

Yeah, alcohol is contraindicated for use on acrylics (if that’s what you mean by “plastic”). Soapy water will work fine, or maybe an ammonia-based cleaner.

Hi, yes… I call it plastic because it is not like the regular “see thru” acrylic… but I guess it is based off of acrylic. Where can I buy this product? I may need it because a cloth and soapy water is killing my fingers after a while

First, make sure the plastic you’re engraving does not contain PVC. The term “plastic” encompasses a whole range of materials, and many of them are unsafe to laser. Acrylic is a specific formulation, whether see-through or not, and is safe to laser.

That said, ammonia is pretty much available anywhere. I didn’t really have a specific product in mind. Vinegar water would work too; anything you’d use to clean your windows or countertop that doesn’t contain alcohol would probably be fine.

An old housewife trick: Let the tokens soak in warm soapy water for a few hours before you start scrubbing. Most of your work should be done for you by then; it will save your fingers.

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I will read the the tag on the products to see if they have ammonia. I would do the water trick but sometimes the tokens will turn into magnetics for fridge and they have tape on the back and that would cause the backing paper to get pretty soft. The material is laser safe by the way (thanks for mentioned it tho!)

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The tokens were all proofgrade Basswood.

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I had been using alcohol hand sanitizer with no issues till I bought it in 2 liter bottles and then it ruined the Acrylic. Retried the retail stuff (like Purell) and the masking just floats away without damaging the acrylic.

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I wonder if it might be the % alcohol, There’s 70 something % and 91 I think.

Pretty sure it is the specific alcohols involved. The Spectrum brand feels different and a couple of days till it evaporated away did no harm, The other will act as has been reported in seconds. Any simple string of carbons with an OH on one of them is an alcohol but they all have very different properties.