How do I engrave on metallic items such as knives or MacBooks?

Hello everyone, I’m having issues trying to engrave on knives and/or cutlery. I haven’t been able to successfully engrave on anything yet. Is there anyone that can help with this issue? Thank you and God Bless,


Hi Eddie!
The MacBook is an anodized aluminum body, the laser will remove that oxide coating. A search for ‘engraving anodized aluminum’ will give you some insight to settings.

Carbon steel and stainless (knives) reacts by having a dark oxide deposited. Again, search is your friend.


Thank you for the reply. I have searched for about a week and haven’t found anything yet on either. I’m not to familiar with this unorthodox forum setup I guess, lol. Would it be possible to share those links if you have them readily available? I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you and God Bless,


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I t depends very much on what your knives are made of.
The “silver bullet” is something like theramark which will enable a visible mark on almost any metal.

Other then that try something like these folks:

I was able to etch deeply into a high carbon steel ruler:


The search button is the magnifying glass on the top-right of the forum:

There are dozens of posts if you try @PrintToLaser’s suggestion of “engraving anodized aluminum.”

Your best bet is @jkopel’s… A 40W CO2 laser will not be able to do much more than slightly discolor many metals. TherMark/CerMark will leave a permanent mark on most metals, however, so it’s really your best bet. For your anodized aluminum, I’d guess you can use some typical settings for anodized aluminum to get the result you’re looking for, but I’d test with an old, dead unit before I screw up a real laptop. :slight_smile:

Support can’t help with non-Proofgrade materials so they’ll likely move this to Beyond the Manual. Or I could move it for you @eddiehector, if you like.

This question is outside our team’s scope. I’ve moved it to the Beyond the Manual so the discussion can continue there.

Maybe they should discuss this being they advertise the GL engraving on a flask. Those kind of things make people want to buy one but yet you don’t have support for it. Might want to rethink some of the things you advertise then or get more experienced help with better knowledge…

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Welcome to the forum.
The Glowforge ads that I have seen suggest you can engrave on whatever you have around the house - cardboard, wood etc. In my experience, their advertising is accurate in that lots of things are being made and engraved on materials other than those sold by Glowforge.

You seem rather angry or upset about Glowforge. This forum is filled with experienced people ready and willing to help you accomplish your goals with your machine. I have engraved flasks with no problem as have many others. Getting started might seem intimidating (it was for me), but you really can do all of the things in the ads.

How can we help you?

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Not angry at all, just seems there is a lack of knowledge of the possibilities. Only takes a 445 nm 10 watt laser to engrave metal. And if I remember correctly GF is stronger. If I worked there I would be pushing the possibilities of the laser. That way to better inform others of its full potential. I love the GF but the forums lack insight on major things. Sorry if I came off angry. You can post this reply so people dont think I was angry.

Good to know. This forum has been active for 5 years (I see that you have only recently joined) so I would have to argue a bit that the forums lack insight on major things. The Glowforge has Proofgrade settings for MacBooks, and there are tons of posts regarding Cermark and metal engraving. CO2 lasers with 45 watt tubes don’t engrave metal. Period.


Feel free to share whatever specific knowledge you have, here in the Beyond the Manual section. This area is a lawyer free zone. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

The Glowforge can engrave away the anodized layer on anodized aluminum, but that is an electrically generated plated coating on the metal, not the metal itself. (So by engraving metal, that might be what you were thinking of.) Done that many a time.

For other metals, they can be permanently marked, but not actually engraved. There have been a slew of techniques, from lemon juice to dry moly lube to Cermark, that produce a permanent mark on various metals. Use the search button at the top of the page in this section to find what you’re looking for. (From Titanium to Pewter, I can just about guarantee someone has tried it.)

And that’s not what the GF has. It’s a CO2 laser which is a 10600nm laser light.

445nm seems to be one of the diode lasers. I haven’t seen one that could really engrave metal - do you have a link to a specific product?

Typically it requires either a much more powerful CO2 laser or a fiber laser to engrave steel, aluminum or brass. I’d love to find a 10W laser that did that. Perfect for a lot of projects

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Very new to tackling anything other than wood and acrylic. Is the only real option to engrave the wood handle on these? The other part of the spreader can only be permanently marked using a coating or I risk damaging the machine?

CO2 lasers cannot engrave metal. It isn’t a matter of harming the machine, it is just a matter of what the machine is capable of doing. You can mark metal using an agent such as CerMark.


No risk to the machine, just a low power laser like the Glowforge won’t touch bare metal.