Problems engraving anodized aluminum pen

I’m trying to etch on to pens for a gift for my children’s teachers.

Unfortunately, there’s an issue.

When I did the first one (pink) it etched fine, I could see the silver clearly and was very excited.

After that I tried etching a purple one and it didn’t turn out well…

Your thoughts?

Some anodize is tougher than others. Did you try a second pass before moving the blue pen? It might even take a third pass…


I did not… fairly new to this (got my gf 2 days ago)

If I set it on HD and tell it to do multiple passes will that help?

Also, will it harm the laser if it removes the anodized part and it tries to pass over shiny metal?

No issue with reflection from shiny aluminum or steel at CO2 laser wavelengths. Copper on the other hand is very reflective. Should avoid that.


Welcome to the community @mansker. Yes, multiple passes can help in general for getting a deeper engrave or in this case, clearing away what you need to.

I’m pretty impressed that you were able to get to pens right away on the Glowforge.

Just a heads up on some forum customs and housekeeping. Since Glowforge is doing the unusual thing of offering support through the forum itself, they like to keep this category limited to machine problems and default settings on Proofgrade materials. So don’t be surprised if this gets re-categorized. You could change it yourself to Beyond the Manual.

Here is one topic that discusses settings for anodized aluminum. There are lots of topics on them, but other than basic settings, not much. Still there are posts that talk about this.


I have moved this post to “Beyond the Manual” so we can discuss settings which we cannot do anywhere else in the forum for non Proofgrade materials.

Welcome to the forum and good job getting this far on your 2nd day with the Glowforge. When I etch aluminum tags (Ihaven’t tried pens) my settings are 700 speed 50 power and 340 lpi. I think the result will be best if you keep the text small so the curved surface of the pen is not an issue. I don’t think you will need 2 passes for most aluminum surfaces. Good luck.


Everything @rpegg and @marmak3261 said.

I generally use manual settings, Full Power, at least 270 DPI, and (if it’s available) vary power. Here is an example where Vary Power wasn’t an option:



FYI; vary power will only be available on rasters, not vectors


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