Etching 500 ipads/macbooks

One of the things we intend to do is put barcodes on all of our macbooks with this bad boy. It takes about 1:30 to etch on… Works great on a sample… It should take around 8-10 hours to complete.

That said, that’s a pretty mass run. Are there any concerns with using a printer all day to etch aluminum? Will it harm the laser or wear it down more aggressively versus wood? Is there anything to look out for or maintain as we are going along? Aluminum toxicity is also totally a thing on large scale projects. Do we need to wear a mask all day while running this or is expelling this out the door adequate for our protection?

What do you guys think?

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No more than anything else - the laser is firing just the same.

Probably better than doing wood, as far as cleanliness.

You aren’t really doing anything to the aluminum itself. You are ablating/vaporizing the anodized surface (yes, I know that is aluminum oxide) and the material “removed” is really pretty insignificant (microns deep). How much of it goes airborne, I couldn’t tell ya… but any general ventilation set up should be fine.


That’s kind of what we were saying… The amount of vaporized material is miniscule compared to… say… welding 2 aluminum surfaces together… Is it removing the material or more just opening it up to re-oxidize in a less controlled way causing a color contrast, do you think?

As @jbmanning5 said, there’s no additional risk in your use case. That being said, if wearing an aluminum dust respirator will ease your mind, by all means you should go ahead and do so.

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Yes. The oxidized layer will be very thin (much thinner than the anodized) and no dye.

~4 nanometers vs ~25 microns

Does anyone have any idea how apple gets their text onto the back of their laptops in black so our barcode can be in black instead of white? Some barcode scanners have more trouble w/ white text… It’s surely laser engraved. I’m assuming they squeegee some black ink into it immediately after cutting to fill it in black. We’re going to give that a try tomorrow…

Look at metal marking solutions from cermark. This might be an ideal use of their tape.


Or in oranges to oranges:
4 nanometers : 25000 nanometers
.004 micron : 25 micron

eg. The anodizing is 6250 times thicker.

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This is totally perfect. Thank you so much!

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Could also just use watered down black paint and brush it on, wait a few secs and wipe off with damp rag. Same process for weathering props. The black will stick in the engraved area and should come off cleanly every where else. (assuming its water based paint)

Though thats a lot of work to do on 500.

This was our original thought. Just glob a bit of paint on top and then wipe it away. We’ll give that a try first and then maybe go with cermark… We might buy some anyway just because it’s so cool.

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You could just put masking tape on before the engrave and then paint it. After the paint is dry, remove the masking tape :slight_smile:

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If I may ask…What are you using to generate your barcodes?

@keith.cameron might still be lurking, but they haven’t had any activity for three years, so I don’t know that they’ll see your question. It might be worth starting your own topic in the ‘Everything Else’ category to see if others have any suggestions. :slight_smile:


How I would do it is use Word template connected to a spreadsheet with the numbers, etc. and do a mail merge to produce PDFs. Use a barcode font to generate.