Etching paint on aluminum

I’ve been playing around with this. A few things I’ve found so far that may be covered elsewhere but thought I’d post.

VHT epoxy seems to give a good result. Safety? Don’t know. Thoughts?

Settings. Full power and speed. 1 pass.

Clean up. Denatured alcohol and finish with a fine cut compound.

Focus. Had problems here at first. See smaller lettering on the cut out bicycle head badge. I think the machine was not able to focus on the gloss paint. Covered with masking tape and the problem seemed to resolve.

Still working on this but pleased with results so far.

Any builds very welcome.


Oh yeah, that’s a really good result.

As for your epoxy, do you have an MSDS from the maker? Usually epoxy is laserable, but the results are mixed in terms of performance. It’s not so much that it’s particularly dangerous and toxic, most plastics are toxic to a greater or less or degree, it’s just a fact of how well it works. Does it melt, is it flammable, that sort of thing.

One other thing to look at carefully with the MSDS sheet is that sometimes it will be for the liquid form, ideally you‘d find an MSDS for the cured form.

Thanks. Checked msds and it’s mostly about the propellants and solvents. No dreaded chloro anything. Another tip is to hold the sheet down with some neodium magnets as small pieces of aluminum get blown by the fan a bit.

Could you elaborate on your process a bit?

Are you painting the aluminum and then etching away some areas? Any primer? How many coats?

I am planning to experiment with using the laser to bond powder coat paint, but always curious about other techniques.

Yes. I’m painting the aluminum and lasering away areas. 3 light coats. Enough to get coverage. No primer but seems to stick OK.

I do some powder coating. Had not thought about trying to bond areas with the laser. I’ll be fascinated to hear how you get on.


The powdercoat idea was a cool concept, but I always worried that the air assist would blast the powder everywhere. thoughts on how to get around that? Do I not understand powdercoating enough to make sense here?

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Good point. I think it might. Perhaps you could maintain some charge on the metal. Handle with gloves and rubber on the bed. I don’t know. Also powder coat flows when it melts on the part and I don’t know if the metal would get hot so it might not stick. Only way to know would be to try!

Thinking more on this I’d not try it. A cloud of the powder in the machine combined with the laser as a source of ignition could be a dangerous combination!

There are ways to make it work, I think.

I would only use a thin coat of powder. and knock off any excess before lasering. If the fan or dust was a problem, maybe spraying it down with a bit of water would keep it in place.

I am not aware that powdercoat paint is excessively flammable. I would think soot from cutting any type of wood would be at least as bad, if not worse.

But maybe I’ll try some experiments with my BX-20 first, which is not enclosed.