Etching aluminum

I would like to etch aluminum. I was wondering do I use the engrave or score to do it and what kind of speed and power would be best? I am fairly new to the glowforge and any advice is appreciated.

Welcome to the forum.
Aluminum cannot be engraved with the Glowforge. You will need a marking agent. If you have colored anodized aluminum, you can engrave away the top color. There are settings for this in the Beyond the Manual section. What aluminum item are you trying to mark>

Anodized aluminum can be engraved. It basically removes the coating so depending on the color of the anodizing it may or may not be easy to see. Non anodized aluminum cannot be engraved without the use of a marking agent. There are a number of sprays or coatings that can be used to mark the aluminum (Cermark, Enduramark, Brilliance and Laserbond 100 are common marking agents that are used).

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Thank you for the info. I was just trying to etch a blank piece of aluminum. I do have marking agent for it and that works well. Are we able to etch any metal on the glowforge?

Metal cannot be engraved with a CO2 laser, only marked.

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Thank you for the clarification. I appreciate it.

To be accurate, the laser isn’t engraving the aluminum. Engraving means removing an amount of material over the area. The laser is ablating the dye out of the anodization layer. No metal is removed.


I “engrave/remove” anodized business cards of different colors all the time. Once the material is removed looks really cool.

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Thanks for the info. I greatly appreciate it.

While the Glowforge operation is called engraving, the laser heat is only removing the dye from the anodization layer. Aluminum dissipates heat too quickly and doesn’t absorb the wavelength readily enough to remove anything more than the dye.

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I realize this that is why I put the words in quotation marks. There may be some out here that don’t understand the actual process of “engraving” anodized aluminum or the idea of having to put a product such as Cermark on the metal prior to “engraving” so the image can be seen on the metal.

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