Posted on 07.14.2020 by Aaron Grimes

How to Laser Engrave Metal: A 5-Step Guide

Last Updated on Jan 25, 2024

Applications Laser Education
How to Laser Engrave Metal: A 5-Step Guide

Small businesses and hobbyists who regularly produce parts for their customers can greatly benefit from efficient laser engraving systems. These diverse systems can work with a wide range of materials fulfilling vital roles.

But if you’re wondering just how to use a laser engraver and what goes into the process, you’re not alone. The good news is operating a laser engraver is fairly simple with the right training. In no time at all, you’ll be able to make clean, clear marks and engravings on all of your products.

In this post, we’ll cover how to use a laser engraving machine for metal. So read on to learn about the process of laser engraving and laser marking metal, as well as how you can benefit from working with TYKMA Electrox in your operations.

1. Choose the Material You Want to Work With

Laser engraving has the ability to work on diverse materials, particularly when it comes to metals. Some of the metal surfaces you are able to work with include:

As you can see, no matter what you’re planning for laser etching metal, you can trust that our systems are efficient laser engravers that provide you with the best solutions for your individual project needs.

2. Select the Applications You Want to Use Laser Etching or Engraving For

Companies utilize laser engraving systems for diverse purposes. While you may have already selected your purpose for a given piece, it’s worth considering all the things you can do with a laser engraving machine for metal.

Some laser etching metal applications include:

  • Branding
  • Graphics and designs
  • Pictures
  • Logos
  • Personalization

These of course could all be placed on a specific part or spread across numerous parts on a product that has a variety of components. This gives you full versatility when choosing what best fits the needs of a given product.

No matter the occasion, our team wants to ensure that our products deliver consistent results during your laser etching or engraving. When using a laser engraving machine for metal from TYKMA Electrox, the results should consist of a high-contrast and clear finished mark that is guaranteed to not fade over time.

3. Determine If You Need to Engrave the Part Radially

Many parts feature a flat surface that is ideal for engraving, as the laser beam can move across the surface evenly without producing any distortions to the text, numerals, or images being engraved.

You may, however, want to laser engrave metal parts that are curved, cylindrical, or spherical. In these cases, you will need a special component that will allow you to laser engrave radially.

Our rotary accessories can facilitate 360° radial laser marking, laser engraving, and laser etching to help you fulfill such needs. The rotary accessories we supply that are ideal for laser marking metal include:

Be sure to select one of these parts if you believe radial engraving is something you may need to perform in the future. You can also consult with our team to determine the best accessory for your given system and application.

4. Program the System to Perform the Engraving

Once you have your parts ready to go and have determined what needs to be engraved, you’ll want to gather your materials for the actual laser engraving process. Whether you need to engrave simple text or numbers, or you’re wanting to incorporate a stylistic design to create a unique final product, you can program any of these requests within a laser engraver’s software.

Our robust laser etching metal software has advanced capabilities, with our systems utilizing the TYKMA Electrox Minilase Pro SE programming software which can operate on Windows XP, 7, and 8 Professional 64-bit. This software features a user-friendly interface and customization options, making it easier than ever to learn how to engrave metal.

5. Utilize Proper Safety Procedures and Begin Engraving

Now that everything is in place you can begin your metal laser engraving, but you want to make sure you take steps to ensure the safety of yourself and anyone else in your facility.

Remember the laser classifications and their key aspects:

  • Class 1 – These lasers are either low powered or they are high powered but are enclosed within a safe container for operation. Our BOQX laser engravers and similar systems are Class 1 systems in enclosed units.
  • Class 4 – For these systems, the laser is exposed in an open environment or as part of an integrated production line, requiring a higher level of caution and adherence to rigorous safety protocols when in use. Our QUBE 20W and QUBE 60W systems are among our Class 4 systems.

To increase facility safety within your workspace, you can additionally incorporate a fume extraction system and utilize laser safety glasses. Ensuring safety while laser etching metal is vitally important. Please visit our laser accessories page to learn more regarding our variety of products beyond our workstations.

If you’d like to know more about laser classifications so that you can ensure you are following necessary safety procedures, be sure to visit our blog post, “Navigating Lasers: A Look at the Classifications of the Technology.”

In that post, we highlight the differences between Class 1, Class 1M, Class 2, Class 2M, Class 3R, Class 3B, and Class 4 lasers, noting the applications for each type. This information is worth reviewing if you are in the beginning stages of learning how to engrave metal, or you wish to train a new team member on key information.

The Benefits of Laser Engraving and Laser Etching Metal

Now that you know how to use a laser engraver and how to engrave metal, let’s take a look at some benefits of the systems. Using laser engraving for your products can supply you with a host of advantages, including:

  • Getting clean, crisp marks on your products to aid with identification, traceability, branding, personalization, and more
  • A no-contact operation for marking and engraving that requires no additional tools, inks, chemicals, pastes, or dyes
  • No need for retooling or tool changes during the procedure, significantly cutting down on time
  • Resistance to heat, acid, and abrasion in your markings and engravings
  • Incredible precision by way of markings and engravings that are able to be produced at micron-level accuracy
  • No pre-treatments or post-treatments of your material or its surface are required
  • Repeatability that is ideal for the processing of multiple parts

Other Uses for Laser Engraving Systems

When you purchase a laser engraver, you get a system that is highly versatile and is able to perform multiple operations for your specific parts. While laser engraving cuts away material leaving an exposed cavity on the product, it is not the only way to alter the material’s surface.

Some of the other applications include the following:

  • Laser marking – This method heats the material and turns its surface black or dark gray, staining it in a sense, while leaving the surface itself otherwise unaltered with no material removed.
  • Laser etching – This subset of laser engraving actually melts the surface of the material and produces a raised mark.
  • Laser annealing – This form applies a large amount of heat but reduces the severity of the produced mark, leaving a black mark with a smooth finish. This method is commonly used by the medical industry.
  • Laser ablation – Laser ablation is the process of removing coatings or surface layers from materials. Our CO2 lasers can be utilized to strip rubbers, paints, and even anodized aluminum.
  • Laser frosting – Laser frosting is often used on metals, resulting in a bright white mark on the metal’s surface once the process is complete.
  • Laser foaming – Though not commonly applied to metals, this technique creates high-contrast marks on the surface of plastics, rubber, and other similar materials.

How to Engrave Metal with Color

When someone is learning how to laser engrave metal, they may begin to wonder if coloration options are available to them. The good news is that yes, it is! Laser engraving or laser marking metal with colors is possible and has been utilized by diverse industries to make products more alluring, promote company branding, and highlight delineation points in parts.

The basic process for how to laser engrave metal with color involves the following aspects:

  • Using a low-powered beam on the object’s metallic surface as part of discoloration, which leads to high-contrast marks that do not disturb or deform the underlying material
  • The laser heats up the given marking area, making oxidation occur under the material’s surface, leading to a change in color
  • For laser annealing, a low temperature is applied to the metal surface

The marks created via color laser marking are permanent and will not fade over time, and a diverse array of color options are possible via changes in laser frequencies, speed, power, focal distance, and more.

The ideal metals when it comes to color laser marking include steel, stainless steel, titanium, and chrome. It should be noted that color laser marking is also possible on plastic surfaces, though the process and end results differ in some ways.

To get a full look at laser engraving and laser etching metal with color markings, be sure to visit our color laser engraving post which features extensive details on the process as well as an example video.

Why Choose TYKMA Electrox for Your Laser Engraving Machine for Metal

For decades, we have had the pleasure of serving our customers with maintenance-free, air-cooled laser workstations that can perform a variety of applications. With that in mind, some of the benefits of choosing TYKMA Electrox for your laser etching, marking, and engraving needs include:

  • We have over 65 years of combined experience in the laser marking industry
  • Though based in the United States, our laser etching and engraving facility serves a global clientele
  • Our compact workstations are guaranteed to take up minimal floor space and are crafted with ergonomics in mind to facilitate ease of operator use
  • We have installed over 10,000 laser marking systems since our inception
  • Our experienced engineering team is capable of crafting custom laser engraving machines for metal, as well as a variety of other applications
  • We provide unwavering customer service support 24/7, 365 days a year to ensure that our clients are well taken care of
  • Our blogs and videos serve as helpful resources to learn more about specific topics, such as how to engrave metal
  • Our industry-leading warranties ensure your products will operate effectively
  • We supply plenty of training and maintenance options, and can even lease systems to your facility for laser etching metal and other purposes

Industries We Supply with Laser Etching Workstations and More

At TYKMA Electrox, we are proud to serve a diverse array of industries for their laser etching needs. Industries that benefit from a laser engraving machine for metal include the following:

Not seeing the industry that you are looking for? If so, please contact us directly about your laser engraving needs, as we want to accommodate you and answer any questions you have regarding how to engrave metal or aspects of our products. Our dedicated team is always standing by to aid you in any way we can.

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Laser Mark Metal

What is the difference between laser engraving on metal and laser marking on metal?

When laser marking on metal, a low-powered beam slowing moves across the metal using a method called discoloration to create high-contrast marks without disrupting the material. During the process, it applies a low temperature to the metal to anneal the surface.

How to laser engrave metal

This differs to laser engraving metal because that process uses high heat for the laser beam to physically remove the surface of the material and expose a cavity that reveals an image at eye level. The high heat causes the metal to vaporize.

Is laser engraving permanent on metal surfaces?

Laser engraving on metal is permanent because the material is vaporized away, changing the features of the surface. The marks are resistant to fading, scratching, and wear.

Can laser marking achieve fine details and intricate patterns on metals?

Yes, one of the biggest advantages of laser engraving and marking is its high precision. Our machines are suitable for intricate designs, fine lines, and smaller text.

Can laser marking be used on curved metal surfaces?

How to laser engrave metal

Yes. Our laser marking machines are designed to accommodate different shapes and surfaces. The 3D fiber laser systems are able to mark nonflat surfaces like conical shapes, spherical and round shapes, cylindrical shapes, sloped and slanted surfaces, and triangular surfaces.

Contact TYKMA Electrox to Start Laser Engraving Your Metal Parts

Now that you have learned how to engrave metal, it is time to apply your knowledge to a workstation of your own.

If you’re ready to begin laser engraving metal and receive all the benefits that an efficient laser system can provide, reach out to us today. Our dedicated team can discuss options with you and help you to select the perfect system for your laser etching metal operations!

Fill out the form below and one of our team members will get in contact with you as soon as possible.

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