Etching on aluminum

I was wondering if someone knows what setting I should use to etch .2mm metal business cards. They are aluminum.

Thanks in advance!

FYI, I’m moving your post to Beyond the Manual because (per the friendly neighborhood lawyers (FNLs) it’s the only place we’re allowed to discuss non-PG settings, and this seems likely to end with settings :smiley: )

If they are just plain metal you’ll need some sort of marking material - ceremark is the professional (pricey) version - but folks have also found some success with vinegar/mustard/water/etc.

If it’s colour coated aluminum you can etch the coating off (you might run a test using the iPhone/MacBook settings)

You can also spray paint them and then either etch off the words - or etch off everything around the words

There are dozens of posts on here talking about just this - it’ll depend on which method you’re considering which posts are the most helpful :slight_smile:


Ok, thank you so much! I did a search before asking the question, but only 1 topic came up. Maybe it’s because I’m using my cell phone. Anyway, they are coated black, but I’ll do another search from my laptop.

Thank you for your time!

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Use the search term ‘anodized aluminum’. It sounds like that’s what you have and there are many posts about it on here. I’ve done anodized many times and it comes out beautifully.


I did some etching about a year ago on little anodized aluminum pill bottles that came out great; and I’m now realizing I didn’t post about them! :scream:

That was dumb, it was a pretty fun effort. I’ll try to dig up my notes on them and do a late posting, or at least suggest the settings I used.

But for now, if they are pre-coated they should turn out really nice; it’s not a tough effort. I’ll be interested if you notice a weird “taste” in the air while you’re doing it; I still remember how strange that was. Crazy free ions bouncing around.


I think this will be a great place to start!

The images show the speed/power/lpi settings they tried :slight_smile:


The blue ones look like what I have. Mine are extremely thin and bend easily. If I find the correct settings, I will definitely share the info! Thank you so much for replying!

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Anodizing is just a method to allow the surface of a metal to hold dye. (Edit - yes, it does more than just that…)

So when you hit it with enough laser power, the dye is vaporized. The metal itself is untouched.

That means it’s hard to not get a decent result with anodized aluminum. Too much power won’t really make much difference. As it happens, full speed (1000) and power typically work pretty well. 340LPI seems to be a good resolution.

As always, test first.


Ok thank you for the information! With the Glowforge it’s easy to select the proofgrade materials, but there isn’t one for what I need. I don’t want to cut the material, just etch a quote onto a 3"x2" sized aluminum card.

I didn’t know if I select the wrong setting will it cut through the card? It’s only because it’s wafer thin, but I’m still researching it.

No. The machine doesn’t have anywhere near enough power to cut thru, or even mark bare metal. It wont even mark aluminum foil.

Oh wow, ok. Sorry about all of the questions. I barely got the machine for Christmas and I’ve never used anything like it.


Wicked cool isn’t it? A lot like magic when you can make something on the computer turn into something in wood or plastic or tile that never existed before quite like you’ve made it. I still get a big smile when I watch the laser go and I’ve been doing this for years (before GF :slightly_smiling_face:).


Oh yeah I’m still in awe of it! I have to stop myself from wanting to try everything I see on Pinterest! :woman_facepalming:


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