Engraving Lighters (eg Zippo)

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#1

One of things I would like to use my glowforge for is doing custom engraving on lighters such as zippos. Is this going to be possible?


#2

Pretty sure it will engrave (but not cut) most metals.


#3

Ive heard it will not engrave or etch metal unless it has a anodized coating or if you use a chemical that marks the metal permanently. No metal cutting or engraving with 40w from what I’ve read


#4

Depends greatly on the material being etched. If it’s anodized or otherwise coated it might work. Otherwise for bare metal you’d have to use something like Cermark.


#5

Yeah, you’ll be able, with the addition of cermark or the equivalent, to put an image on your Zippos, but not make an etching you can really feel. If they’re painted or otherwise coated, you could ablate away the coating and make a sort of reverse image that way.


#6

Cermark is crazy expensive and doesn’t leave a permanent mark though.


#7

There are alternatives to cermark: http://www.evilmadscientist.com/2013/laser-moly/


#8

Thanks for the link! I knew there were other options, which is why I said or the equivalent, but I couldn’t remember what they were.

@Rorschach yeah, which is why a laser is probably not the right tool for this job. With a few upgrades, you could do it with a CNC mill and get proper shallow engraving.


#9

So what metals can be marked as this was part of the original advertising and one of the main reasons I jumped on board.


#10

With cermark, just about any. Possibly also the alternatives but I dunno if anyone has done a list. You might be able to ablate the coatings on some fewer others, like the aluminum of a MacBook, etc.


#11

Not with Cermark, additional materials/processes were not mentioned in the advertising video.


#12

No. The GF can remove coatings on some materials (again, see things like the MacBook’s aluminum cover). Stuff like steel, stainless steel, etc., you’re not going to achieve anything close to a satisfactory engraving even if you manage to make a mark (which isn’t that likely).

If that’s a dealbreaker, you should regrettably probably put the money toward something more suitable, like a CNC (there are models like the Shapeoko, etc., that can do limited metal millings, though the cheap ones are likewise usually limited to softer metals like aluminum). I think the GF people were overly ambitious slash slightly naive with regards to their original marketing materials - in laser spheres, using Cermark et al. to mark metals is commonly referred to as engraving, even though it’s nothing of the sort - it’s just bonding.

It is pretty permanent, though, as you’re bonding the material pretty firmly to the metal substrate. Another method you might consider is laser cutting stencils (or even coating the lighter with a resist and user the laser to burn it off?) and then acid etching your design.


#13

Anodized aluminum on a MacBook is what they showed being engraved in the first video. That, and possibly other metals with oxidation layers, are really the only form of metal that you can expect to engrave without some sort of marking material.


#14

I engraved on a gunmetal finished Zippo once… https://goo.gl/photos/RQ6dkmyPG3dJ7Uvr9

And straight steel without Cermark with a 60w: https://goo.gl/photos/3n2XihA5sx6KYtEE6

It can be done, albeit slowly.

[Edited to update links to non-blocked Google ones.]
And don’t forget to only engrave on unused Zippos! Lighter fluid can catch fire, and leaves a residue even if “cleaned.”


#15

Hi @emacartoon, I would love to take a look at your images, but I get a 403 Forbidden page.


#16

Looks like you can see the pieces she describes on this page: http://www.em2astudios.com/portfolios/maker-work/


#17

Yup, it’s true. Dangit. I’ve got a spam blocker on my site. It must recognize my IPs.


#18

Updated my post with new links to Google photos.
Sorry about that!


#19

Looking at your Cermark photo - looks like the mark isn’t very dark/black, is that right?


#20

Which one? The only Cermark I’ve used was on glass. And that had it’s own list of issues.