Being able to mark hard metals like steel has been a decades-long dream. The strong-witted came up with their carefully-thought solutions. However, best to their level as the solutions were, there were still many pitfalls. Until laser marking hit the scene. The technology has been around for some time now. However, its series of ramp-ups have made it more applicable in industries.
With the current trend, laser marking machines are even sipping into homes for personal use. So, anyone can learn the basics of marking metals like stainless steel and make a fortune. Or simply, make good of their leisure time and still earn. But there’s so much whimsy surrounding these golden retrieving machines. The likes of, you can’t create a professionally appealing masterpiece on steel and other hard metals.
But here’s an article that helps you learn the secret magics and share in the thrill. You will learn the tips to employ and pitfalls to avoid. Hang tight!
Can you laser engrave stainless steel?
Many people call it laser etching but it is technically laser engraving. So, yes! You can laser engrave stainless steel. Laser engraving involves making deep marks on a stainless steel object. While laser etching isn’t a very deep process. Either way, the process involves focusing a laser beam on a stainless steel surface. The surface heats up, reaching its melting point. Eventually, the designated marks will appear on the surface.
However, it’s worth noting that the molten material doesn’t overheat to a level of evaporating. It is simply molten to take the shape of the marks to be engraved.
Can you use a laser to oxidize stainless steel?
Yes, but not with a low-power laser engraving machine. But this is possible and always results in beautiful markings. Oxidation allows the laser to form a basic color on the stainless steel. Usually black. However, if in need of other colors, or more than one, you’d need a more powerful laser. This will oxidize with perfection and hence finesse the result.
Typically, stainless steel doesn’t need pretreatment for oxidization. However, that’s dependent on the color you’re going for. If you need to get a darker color, then you want to use a special compound to aid the oxidization. This compound, widely called a metal marking spray, is applied thinly on the surface of the metal.
The Best Lasers to Use on Stainless Steel
Not all laser marking machines can help you get a mark of your choice. Some aren’t just meant for that while others are low-powered. So, here’s a short list of the best lasers to employ:
- Fiber lasers
- Infrared lasers
- Diode lasers
- CO2 lasers
Tips of Laser Engraving on Stainless Steel
- Get the right laser engraving machine
Laser engraving on stainless steel is sort of demanding. Things can go wrong if you get the wrong laser engraving machine. Besides, the result would not be satisfying. As aforementioned, get yourself a fiber laser engraving machine. While runs on the expensive side, it is reliable for excellent results. However, diode lasers are a good option for those working on a budget and are looking for some good results.
- Prepare the surface of your marking object
Laser engraving on steel is intricate and demanding. So you want to get rid of any dust particles, oil, or other contaminants on the steel surface. Go ahead and get a marking spray or tape, depending on your color choice. A good marking spray will give the marks better contrast and excellent hues.
- Get your design ready
Use raster graphics software to prepare your design. Depending on how complex your image or text is, you can use Photoshop, Illustrator, or CorelDraw. Then save it on your computer in your preferred format.
- Adjust the laser settings
Get the right power, speed, and frequency of the laser machine. This depends on your laser machine model and the software used. Before starting the process, get the best combination of parameters by using a test piece. Then transfer the image or text you saved to your computer. Resize it to fit the material you intend to engrave it on.
- Get the right position for the design
Preview your machine’s framing to get the perfect position of the design. Alternatively, you can use your laser machine’s camera system to avoid marking in the wrong position.
- Start the process
Press the start button and watch how the marks are formed.
Laser engraving on stainless steel project ideas:
- Stainless steel tumbler
- Steel photo
- Steel keychain
- Steel nameplate
- Steel bowl
- Metal snowflake
- Steel bracelet
Stainless steel engraving doesn’t have to be daunting anymore. You don’t have to make slight mistakes and mess the whole process. To avoid making losses, use a spare stainless steel to try the design. Here’s how to get started with a good laser marking machine.
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