Engraving on metal with no luck

Hi everyone. My first post here. Hoping I can get some help.
I have been only using proofgrade material and it’s getting boring.
I would like to do engraving on metal and I have spent money and time ending with no luck at all.

I have read that using Molybdenum Disulfide and dish detergent could create marking. Tried that. Not even a scratch. Then I read that Dry moly Lube works. So ordered a can of that as well. Nothing! not a scratch either! I have been using it on anodized aluminum blanks I ordered on Amazon.

Anyone have any clue what I am doing wrong? I am trying to do engraving on piece to make for jewelry. Just not having any luck at all. I don’t want to have to get into stamping when I have this $2000 machine !!!

Search the forum for “engraving metal”. There’s so much out there. There’s no need to reopen the topic really, it’s been done many times.


I have been reading through them and trying to cheaper route. I dont want to have to spend $100 to get that can of sprat that really works. It’s just a hobby you know?

First, understand that the GF does not have enough power to truly engrave metal as it does wood or other materials. With anodized aluminum the laser is removing the dye from the anodized color and nothing else.
The exception is titanium and there are several users who have shared on this forum the settings they used.
Learn to use the search function and do your research.
When you are using coatings like moly lube, you are forcing a bond between the material and the applied coating. Depending on how clean your metal surface is and the way the coating works with the metal you will get a stronger or weaker bond. You should search this forum for others who have done the same and shared their work.
When you are marking steel with acid or water you are using the laser to force oxidation on the surface of the steel. This creates the marking. This means you need to get your oxidation catalyst mixture correct. Again, lots of information on this forum.


As @ben1 touched on, anodized aluminum needs nothing put on it to engrave it…but also as he said, it isn’t exactly engraving the metal at all…it’s merely removing the anodized coating. I love working with anodized aluminum and have found that 1000/100/340 LPI + your material thickness does a beautiful job. As you may know by reading some of the many posts about this, metal can be marked for sure…and some can even get a slight engrave, but it involves a lot of reading and testing. More than I care to do myself. :slightly_smiling_face: Cermark is definitely expensive but also definitely will work. But even then, it’s not engraving the metal…it’s marking it. Engraving metal was never on the list of things that could be done on the Glowforge. Wishing you lots of luck.


While this may seem like it isn’t relevant, I think that when you are laser marking the anodized aluminum you just ablate the dye. Anodizing is a coating of metal oxides on the surface of the aluminium to provide corrosion resistance. The information I have is that even after laser treatment the corrosion resistance remains, which lends credence to the theory that only the dye color is removed. The importance in this distinction is that if the anodization coating were removed the aluminum would be susceptible to corrosion again. This may be a critical piece of information for applications where corrosion resistance is still desired.


If they are real anodized aluminum blanks, and not just painted blanks, you should be able to mark them just using the laser. The marks are not going to be dark, they are going to be lighter than the coating…(it’s the nature of engraving away the coating), and you wind up with plain silver aluminum underneath.

This is an example of lasering away a non-anodyzed coating on aluminum:

And this is what it looks like when the aluminum is actually anodyzed (much cleaner result although the test was slightly misaligned):


If you want to make a dark mark, that’s where you go for something like Cermark, or one of the various options, and that’s usually done on steel, not aluminum. So you might be testing on the wrong thing for the particular techniques you’ve been using. (They might work on steel blanks.)


Not sure where you think we disagree on this…and certainly didn’t say it was not relevant.

Omg Jules! Thats something I would want to do! Could you share me a link on where you purchase that material to do the engraving? Also that look amazon.

I understand that GF is really not strong enough to do much on metal. But I have read through a lot of post and where I read about Molybdenum Disulfide and Dry Moly Lube both said it would make a marking on the metal and thats what I really want to do I guess is to just make the darker color marking onto the metal. ( Durable and not easily scratched away)

Thank you for all who are helping!

Yeah I picked up both of those on Amazon…




I read your statement to mean the anodizing was removed by the laser, which I don’t think is correct. I think the dye is just removed and the anodized layer remains. Color is added to the process to make the colored surface. The laser just removes the color, the protective layer remains. The difference may be inconsequential for some uses, but some uses may require that anodizing, or may be expecting a raw AL surface as you would get if you removed the anodizing. I just wanted to point out that to say the anodizing is removed doesn’t seem to be correct per what I have found on other laser forums. I think just the dye is removed.


I’m guessing you’re probably correct. You sound like you know a lot more than I do about the process. Obviously, I didn’t get as technical about it. Thanks for the clarification.

Thank you for sharing! Jules

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Oh no problem, I’ve tested a ton of materials over the last year and a half…the ones that work wind up here eventually. :wink:

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cool! gonna be stocking you from now on! hahah