Precious metal engraving?

Hello I am hoping to purchase the glowforge upon release. In addition to crafts I also produce silver jewelry
will the glow forge be able to engrave precious metals? I read a post where it talked about being able to cut vinyl up to 1/4 inch I doubt i would ever need to feed that much silver through at once but would it be able to engrave 18gage silver its about 8mm thick?


That’s an excellent question. I don’t believe it’s possible to engrave solid sterling silver, although it would be interesting to experiment. I believe you might be able to engrave silver plating, though. Thanks for your interest!

Normally, silver plate is over copper, and silver would probably be easier to engrave than the underlying copper; but the copper shouldn’t show through the plating anyway, making silver plate an undesirable choice. Would a lighter gauge of silver help? It should only be cut lightly anyway. Has silver been tried yet?

Hmm I agree with drutrader that the plated silver might not be a good choice though seeing the copper under might be interesting in some designs. Is it just the melting point of silver that is in question? or the thickness?

Generally the laser can only remove a tiny amount of metal, so you need some contrast between the top layer and what’s underneath to make it visible. But since we haven’t tested it in our shop yet, I’m afraid I’m just speculating.

While I don’t have this laser (yet) a 40 watt laser should be able to use a product like Ceremark or Thermark to mark silver (at least silver plate is on the list of allowed materials).

(owner of another 40 watt laser, pre-orderer (is that a word) of this laser)

Very good point. Which laser do you have, @jhandel, if you don’t mind saying? Knowing that, I can give you a better sense of how it’d compare to Glowforge, functionality-wise. (Some 40W lasers are a TEM00 40W RMS beam; others are… not)

@dan I have a Full Spectrum H-series 5th gen (though at the time it was called a Hobbyist 5th gen). The thing that I like the most about your product is the built in cooling, air assist and filter… My laser looks like Frankenstein when everything is connected up and LOUD when its all running.

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I sympathize. I’ve used a FS before. Nearly kicked over the bucket of water they instruct you to put the aquarium filter in.

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Seems like it would be easy enough to patina the etched silver design with liver of sulfur and then repolish the top surface to make the design visible. Would this not work?


You are way out of my depth but it sounds reasonable to me. : )

As a fellow jewelry-making enthusiast, I agree. If any amount of etching takes place, LoS and repolishing should bring it out nicely. :smile:

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Given how reflective/heat conductive sliver is, I would be really surprised if you can get enough relief to hold a patina when polishing.
I intend to try putting the liver of sulfur on FIRST and then running the laser over it to see if I can selectively remove the patina.

There are lots of fun experiments I want to try, and I can’t wait to get my hands on this thing!

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Most interesting topic. I am very interested to know too.

In the production main website, I remember somewhere saying that it is possible to engrave anodised aluminium. Aluminum’s thermal conductivity and reflectivity is pretty close to silver. I think if it works on aluminium, it probably will work on patina silver.

Can’t wait to try it out myself, can the lucky few with the printer give it a try please?

The laser isn’t actually removing much material, if any on the anodized aluminum. The color change happens because the anodization is getting bleached by the laser. Its a different process. If you try to etch raw aluminum, I doubt you will make a mark on it.

I want to do something like this.

Research etching silver. You will most likely need an etchant bath (acid) and a resist that can be lasered away. Lots of people are doing this with brass, but silver is really no different other than the (more dangerous) chemicals it requires.

I thought plated metal cannot be engraved because the plating will crack??

We just received our Pro and learning the basics. My wife is learning to make jewelry and has hopes of engraving silver, so I’d live to bring this topic back alive.
Now that so many more Glowforges are out there, has anyone found success?

You can’t engrave metals with the glowforge. you can add materials like cermark or you can removed coatings like anodization. other than that you are pretty much out of luck.