Glowforge safe? Metal etching

Hi! I am still relatively new to glowforge and I have learned a lot reading various post on here. I wasn’t able to find it, but maybe I missed it, I found these metal items at hobby lobby and I am wondering if I can etch on them.

The first item says it is tin coated; the second says soft aluminum.
I apologize if I am posting in the wrong place or if this has already been answered- if so, can you please point me in the direction?
I appreciate it!

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The GF cannot etch metal. It can mark metal if you use products capable of that. It can also be used to remove paint or anodization off metal. If you do a search here you will see some of the products people have used.
Search “etching metal”.


Welcome to the forum.
Do not laser engrave anything that you are not sure is safe. Period

See #4 Common problems/questions


I have purchased the cermark, but I wasn’t sure if that makes it safe or not.

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If it is metal and you use cermark that is what it’s designed for. It is safe.


You have absolutely posted in the right place, Everything Else would have been fine too - but the likelihood that someone will answer will non PG settings is high, so this is a great spot.

That being said - yes you can mark some metals, but actual etching (digging a hole into metals) is beyond the capability of a 40W C02 laser. So, presuming you’re talking marking - let’s get you moving.

@dklgood’s link is definitely helpful for what not to laser (Copper = BAD)

Folks have had luck with plain water on steel, as well as mustard & vinegar!
You definitely have some testing in your future, but doing a search for the metals you’ve found (tin & aluminum (and aluminium) will get you started.

Also, consider if you paint your surface you can then either etch away the design, or the area around the design to give yourself nice contrasting look.

Lots of reading ahead for you - and we look forward to your results!!


Cermark doesn’t make something that isn’t safe into something safe. That said, most uncoated metals are safe on their own and Cermark is safe (don’t breathe fumes of course). Cermark does only work on specific metals - read the packaging for details.
Avoid copper, it can deflect the beam in unpleasant ways.

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