Engraving on zinc alloy?

Hi, I have belt buckles that I am trying to etch/mark/engrave on. they are of a zinc alloy. to save money and per advice from many others I used CRC Dry Moly Lube as an alternative to Cermark. I can see a slight etching, but not quite as noticeable as I would like. I have a basic and used 60 power and 300 speed, 2 runs.

does anyone have experience etching/marking/engraving on a zinc alloy metal? any tips for me?

Generally zinc offgasses are pretty nasty. I would be sure your ventilation is bulletproof.

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I would be more concerned about any legal restrictions against venting these fumes anywhere…

Good to know. I will check into it.

Thank you for sending

Yes but the amount possibly released when engraving will be minute compared to welding because the area of the spot is tiny.


I suppose that depends on the size and frequency of the engraves and how much of the fumes you hoover up. But yes, the risk is pretty low, which is why I didn’t say “don’t do it, man, you’ll DIE”.

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True. This is a very small application that takes about 5 mins to complete. Only 4-5 times a week.

Probably not what you want to hear since the real stuff is expensive, but it works.

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Yes, I’ve already started thinking of purchasing. Was trying to get some tips before I purchased due to high cost. I’m just hoping it’s not the limit of my 40W laser or the metal alloy I’m using… :confused:

Solid advice, particularly for metal work like welding or casting - also just for nuisance like fine airborne sawdust.
Positive displacement ventilation is a requisite for my shop.

By the time you get silicon bronze or brass to casting temperature, zinc fume comes off of it in clouds. I never experienced the “shakes”, but I’ve had enough exposure that everything tasted like metal for a day. Sensitized to it, I can’t tolerate those zinc cough drops.
I think the amount of fume from engraving. (marking) zinc would be minimal, only in it’s molten state would off gassing be a real issue.
Up against policy here regarding safety, but I just answer the query based on my own experience.


thank you for that. do you have any advice on power and speed I should use to mark the metal? Here is what 60 power 300 speed got me w/2 passes (recommendations from a Cermark doc I read for 40w laser). Except i used Dry Moly for cost savings


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Sorry, I have limited experience marking metal, and zero with zinc.
As with every other material I have fed the laser, testing is required to dial in your best result.
I don’t know the chemistry, but it looks to me that the marking of metal involves depositing an oxide layer. Since zinc is favored to protect against corrosion, I suspect you may have difficulty with that.

I did a little googling and I am no longer convinced that ther/ceramark will work either.

Most of the people posting on sawmillcreek for instance are saying they were not able to effectively mark zinc or zinc alloys. So you may not want to spend the money.

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I won’t then. Thank you for the information. I guess this is as good as it gets!

Have you considered painting over the buckle, using the forge to burn off the paint, then etching the zinc, possibly with an alkali, rather than acid?
Not sure of my chemistry, as it’s been a lifetime since I worked in a lab, but might be worth a try.

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Appreciate the feedback! I didn’t paint; however, I spray dry moly on it (confirmed alternative to cermark). And ran it twice. It does etch it, but only slightly. Still paying with applicants and power/speeds but it looks like I won’t get much better than what I show in my pic. Thank you, tho!

Did a quick google, and found ‘saline sulphate etch’ (sulfate on your side of the pond !).
Salt plus copper sulphate (sorry, sulfate). New to me but read here