Etching Stainless Steel or Titanium?

Can you show more examples of etching on metals, how crisp and dark the marks can be made? Example - a stainless steel business card (fine lines & small text).

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Just went back and forth with our CTO on this - with most formulations of stainless you’ll need Cermark, a compound that gives you a sharp black line over the engrave. Titanium discolors nicely.

Will put sample photos on or todo wishlist!


Just to note, cermark is expensive!
Some people also have good luck with Molybdenum disulfide (i.e. moly-d) powdered lubricant.
It’s a lot cheaper.


Great tip! Love to try that out. You’re right, Cermark’s not cheap.

$1.50 - $2.00 for a business card-sized mark would blow up our BOM. Any chance you could try the ‘Moly-D’ spray to show before and after? Try a digital file of a simple business card (3 - 4pt. type). Thanks!

We’re hellaciously backed up right now so all our time is talking to customers, building glowforges, and the original press demo, I’m afraid. But if you google around you’ll see some folks have figured out how to reclaim all the un-engraved Cermark, which drops your cost by a factor of 10-100!

Have you guys tried Cermark or Thermark yet? I’m planning to use it and want to make sure it will work.


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Yes, a while ago, with no issues.

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I found this thread about using Moly-D spray for marking stainless steel. Given the number of comments and threads dealing with this topic of marking… maybe you should make an intern go buy a $12 can of the stuff and test it out. Or you could do it when you have some breathing room… in 2016. ha.


That looks like an awesome lower-cost option. Thanks for sharing it!

My pleasure. I have some concerns about the potential for off-gassing from using an automotive product, but… well, I have plenty of gas masks around for doing indoor aerosol work.
The more that I poke around forums, the more info I find, and then the more the ideas come to mind, which I must then research as well. Sometimes someone else has already done it.
That post that I linked had comments on it, one of which has me starting to wonder about the possible use of powdered ceramic glaze in conjunction with powdered graphite and moly-d to make custom color markings. Maybe it’s a pipe dream.
If anyone who already has a laser of some type has done this, or is willing to try, I would love to hear about it.


What about coating with either a film or some kind of lacquer, removing pattern with laser then acid etch (of course have to watch undercut if trying to get a lof depth)


I think the acid etch would work that way, if you can fit the item into the Glowforge, or you can just cut out the stencil first, then stick it to the item afterward if the item won’t fit.

Does anyone know if a 40W CO2 laser would remove powdercoating from steel? That would be good info to have, too.

No first hand experience, but little googleing says that yes, a 40W CO2 laser can remove powder coating from steel, stainless, and Aluminum.


Jkopel. I have engraved powder coat quite often on my universal 40 Watt. Most often on stainless steel cable tags so I can leave a serial number behind. I usually have to go very slow speed and high power. But the results are excellent. I am sure many people will be doing testing as soon as they receive their glowforges.


This is amazing stuff!

As a side note, the owners of EMSL are wonderful and I covet many things they sell.

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I would imagine that there are certainly products that would be prefect for this method… but I would suggest reading the MSDS (for whatever coating or film you want to use) very carefully to make sure that there is nothing that would be dangerous to burn. Chlorine gas… scary!
But of course, I don’t need to tell you that. Everyone always reads every MSDS all the way through for every product they use… right? :grimacing:


Yeppers. There are a number of laser safe films out there (see some of the resource websites listed in other threads), paints would need a bit of research but there should be some out there…


I have read all kinds of things about marking/engraving steels, stainless steels, aluminium etc. with GF. I fully understand that 40W nor 45W laser cannot vaporize metals, as it should do to really engrave it. So we should talk about changing the color of the oxide layer of stainless steel or titanium. For aluminium, the colorized oxide layer is very different thing and the color is quite easily removed mechanically or with heat.

So, about the titanium or steels; different thicknesses of oxide layer reflects light in different colors. Thickness of the oxide layer to achieve a certain color has to be very accurate, we’re talking about few micrometers per one color (at least with stainless). There are only few achievable colors (different tones of yellow/gold, red, blue, green, black) and, as far as I’m considered, only one real industrial-scale manufacturer of these electrochemically-colorized-stainless steels in the market (Rimex). It is still quite unknown area of stainless steels.

What I would like to know is that can the Glowforge change the color of these colored stainless steels to from what-ever-color to the familiar silver-ish shine of stainless - I really doubt this. I have some samples of these colored stainless plates - I can send one of them to you for testing @dan. Another way to get these is to ask Rimex Ltd to send a sample pack to you.

Sami Korhonen M.Sc. (Tech.)
Production manager, Jet-Steel Oy

p.s. looking forward to get my GF!

I have absolutely no additional information for you, but that is a very cool product I have never heard of!
Thanks for pointing it out (and for the record here is a link

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