Etching stainless steel 440C results

Sorry if this duplicates others work- I was curious about marking stainless steel. Saw some posts about vinegar, paper towels, mustard, etc, etc, which I questioned. So I fired up the machine. Here are my results.


Stock is 440c stainless steel, precision ground (surface finish is somewhat like a scotchbright finish). I tested speeds 300, 200, 100 at full power. 225 lpi. One pass. I also included a Sharpie square of black for photo ref. since taking pictures of metal is so vague.

I did not use any vinegar, mustard etc. As far as I can tell, it is unneeded. Maybe I’d get a better quality (darker, but sharper) at more lines per inch but faster speed?


How’s the durability of the marks? That 200/Full looks pretty nice to me…

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I haven’t done a real scrub/durability test, but that said you can feel the mark on the surface w/ a fingernail. it’s pretty solid. I’ve marked Grade V Ti similarly and that has held up well.

200/full is pretty good. it looks a smidge better in photo than in reality (surprisingly). so I may run another test tomorrow with more lpi and incremental decrease in speed.

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Love these results, did you make any further progress?

Thanks for sharing - did you have to mask the stainless steel before placing it in the Glowforge? Or did you place the “bare” material & run the laser?

I just dropped it in there - no masking required.

Newbie here! Ive seen a ton of mixed reviews on engraving on stainless steel, lots saying it cant be done. You seemed to have figured it out. If I’m reading this correctly, you engraved without using ceremark or any other “protection coat”? I have an order for animal tags but a little nervous attempting to etch on the stainless steel tags I have…

Likely their steel already had some sort of coating on it and that’s what caused the mark - yay win! A 40W laser cannot mark bare metal - it’s not strong enough. That being said, if you don’t know what’s on yours the best way to find out is to test! If cost is the issue test bare, test water, test vinegar, test all the things!


That’s been my opinion. I tested a bunch of “steel” (knives, different tools, sockets, some blocks, a square) and couldn’t touch any of them.

I got some light marks on a wrench, but it had a bit of an oily film on it. I cleaned it with acetone and couldn’t touch it - 100 speed, FULL power (Pro.)

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