Norton White Tile Method

Has anyone tried the Norton method of tile “etching” in the glowforge? Every example I’ve seen has been done with a low power diode laser. It’s rather interesting if you’ve never heard of it. I’ll summarize as best I can.

Take a white ceramic tile… Spray it with a couple layers of flat white spray paint. Laser the hell out of it with your pew pew machine… then use turpentine or other agent to remove all of the white paint remaining.

What remains is a black (or grey depending on power used) “etch” of the design you lasered. And it’s not coming off. I’ve seen people take paint scrapers to it and it really does seem very durable.

I think they are getting basically the same sort of thing that cermark does with steel. It’s a chemical reaction to the laser’s heat that bonds it somehow to the ceramic (glass works as well) creating a permanent marking.

Just wondering if anyone else has tried it. I threw caution to the wind and tried it with a design earlier and while it appears to have left a very light grey mark, it’s nothing I’d care to write home about. I should have done a test tile with a bunch of different settings first, but I am an impetuous youth and don’t have time for that. :rofl:

Tomorrow I shall probably try that whole test thing to see if I had too many pew pews (50) or too many vroom vrooms (750) or… perhaps not enough of either. WHO KNOWS!? :smiley:

Here’s an example someone did with the technique and a diode laser.


Oh my! I wonder if a diode laser is required? That’s incredible!


So, what, the paint turns black when you laser it?

Probably depends on the type of paint?


I don’t know for certain. I’ve only seen it said to use a “flat white spray paint”. But I’ve also seen someone use gloss white paint as well and he said he got better results with gloss. That’s about the best I can tell because up until a few days ago I’d never heard of this method. And yes, I believe that the paint turns black when lasered. BUT I don’t think it leaves a significantly raised surface, and it seems to be VERY durable.

I also don’t know if you NEED to use a diode laser or if it’s just that the diode laser is significantly less power than we are used to putting to a surface.


“flat white spray paint” is pretty ambiguous…

I’m inclined to think there’s something more to it.

1 Like

I agree, I have experimented with many things that I have spray painted (not because I was trying to duplicate this, as is the first time I’ve heard about it) and have never had a result like these.

That would be my guess. The wavelengths are radically different than the CO2 laser we’re using. I’m not certain it is a heat issue as much as the wavelength of the light that’s doing it.

A quick test would be to use a clothes iron or soldering iron to see if that turns the paint black.


I’ll be doing some in depth tests tomorrow so we’ll see.


The backing on the glass tiles seem to do this now.

1 Like

It’s a treasure hunt! :sunglasses:


That is a stunning image, and result.

1 Like

I wonder if the white matte paint is a red herring, and maybe what is actually going on is something like @bwente seen in their post here.

It might explain why his coating is so durable at the end of the video resting the scraping.

Edit: Sry didn’t see you had mentioned it there.

But in the video posted here it look like a regular ceramic tile. It is strange. The glass tiles are odd ones.

I was trying to go frame by frame and see how the reflections carried across the dark sections but the 360p is holding me back hehe. Could also be some strange reaction with the paint and glaze? I found the paint used at least so if my local hardware stores carry it i will test and post my mistakes. I need to build an urn for my parents yorkie that passes away and something like this would look better than the slate in my moms opinion.
I’m sure you all have found it as well but just in case here it is Here


I think it is Audrey Hepburn that makes the difference. I bet Mother Teresa would work too!


Was looking at the sds of the paint and this is what came up. not sure if this is the exact same stuff but i clicked on a few rustoelum white paint sds sheets and they appear to be the same recipe for the flat white finish. Here

It would be cool if something was combining with the kaolin clay and being blast enameled onto the surface of the tile. I think talcum powder “Hydrous Magnesium Silicate” turns a dark greenish grey/black when heated so maybe that is what is doing the color change?

Oh and be careful what rabbit holes you fall down otherwise you will look up the sds of cermark spray and paste to find out that the spray has something called “DOCUSATE SODIUM” so you google that and then find out that it is a stool softener :laughing:
And then you forget what you were searching for in the first place and finally go to bed.


You could always power down enough to not turn it white. It probably either drives carbon into the glaze though If you can make your own glaze it might reduce it! It would be interesting with a glaze with a lot of iron.

1 Like

Well… I think everyone needs to look into this deeper. My first settings test was pretty successful.

From bottom to top… 1000 zooms and 20 pews… 500 zooms and 20 pews… and 250 zooms and 20 pews.

Obviously that was the best of the bunch. I’ll have to do some more tweaks and see if I can improve it from there. The first picture still had the flat white on the tile. The one directly above I had removed all of the flat white taking it back to the shiny white tile and nothing of the coloring was removed.

I then went beyond what the guy in the video did and took the CORNER of a paint scraper to it and I was really trying to scrape that crap off. Nothing. You can see some discoloration where I was really putting the scraper to it, but I would say that’s a worst possible case scenario.

Now I just need to find out if I can up the pews so I can up the speed… or if it HAS to be low power and low speed to get the job done. I’m kinda excited here. :smiley:


UPDATE: those lines on the image after I took the scraper to it? Rubbed off with my thumb. It’s like I never even touched it. That stuff is as permanent as it’s going to get. The only question is to whether it will fade at this point.