The Best Methods for Laser Engraving Stainless Steel
As a common engraving material, stainless steel can be found in a variety of industries including home furnishings, jewelry, and many others. If you own a small metal laser engraving business, this article will provide you with more engraving and marking technology as well as laser engraving inspiration.
Ⅰ. Choose the Best Laser Engraving Machine
Without a doubt, the fiber laser engraving machine, which is more effective than CO2 laser, is the best option for carving stainless steel. This is now widely accepted as the best method for engraving or marking stainless steel. The fiber laser can generate a laser beam with a wavelength of approximately 1.06 microns by using doped fiber as the laser medium. Metals like stainless steel, aluminum, and brass can be carved and cut more effectively and suitably with the Monport fiber laser. The stainless steel surface can be penetrated more effectively by the shorter wavelength laser beam, producing engraving that is both deeper and more detailed.
The CO2 laser engraver is typically used to carve nonmetals and cannot directly engraver metals; however, it can be used to carve stainless steel if a marking solution is applied to the surface beforehand. To carve stainless steel, you must first pretreat the material with CerMark, LaserBond, or another marking solution. Furthermore, this type of engraving is frequently appropriate for shallow surface etching, and its work efficiency is far lower than that of an optical fiber engraving machine.
Ⅱ. How to Engrave Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is a popular material for laser engraving due to its durability and resistance to corrosion. However, laser engraving stainless steel can be challenging because the high reflectivity of the material can cause the laser beam to bounce back and damage the laser engraver itself. To successfully engrave stainless steel, there are a few methods that can be used:
Use vector images
Vector images are made up of mathematical equations and can be scaled to any size without losing quality. This makes them ideal for cutting or etching lines into stainless steel. It's best to use vector images in formats like .AI, .EPS, .SVG.
Choose the right font
Because stainless steel is a hard, durable material, it's important to choose a font that has thick lines and a bold appearance. This will make the engraving more visible and easier to read.
The best font for engraving stainless steel using a fiber laser engraver is a sans-serif font with clean lines, such as Arial or Helvetica, because they provide clear and legible text that is easily readable. Other good options include Calibri and Verdana.
When selecting a font, it's important to consider factors such as the size and thickness of the letters, as well as the overall contrast between the font and the background material.
This process is applied when you don't want the laser beam to touch certain areas of the stainless steel, a special tape or coating is applied to the area that need to be mask and this will protect them from the laser beam during the engraving process.
There is no need for pretreatment on stainless steel. You can make visible marks on the surface, but you'll need to use a special compound to make deeper marks. It is commonly referred to as metal marking spray. Spray a thin, even layer of paint on the metal. The laser beam then reacts with this compound, leaving a more visible dark mark.
Use high contrast colors
Stainless steel is a shiny and reflective surface, so it's important to use high contrast colors to make the engraving stand out. Avoid using colors that are similar to the color of the stainless steel, as they will not be visible.
Clean the surface
It is important to clean the stainless steel surface before engraving to remove any dirt, oil, or other contaminants that may affect the engraving quality.
Applying an anodized coating to the stainless steel before engraving will also help to reduce reflectivity and increase the contrast of the engraved design. Anodizing is a process where a thin oxide layer is formed on the surface of the stainless steel, this help to protect the steel and also makes it more receptive to the laser beam.
Using the right laser wavelength
Generally, a 20W fiber laser can easily finish the marking of stainless steel at one time. Some laser wavelength are better absorbed by stainless steel than others. Using a wavelength that is absorbed more readily by the steel can increase the efficiency of the engraving process.
Stainless steel is widely used and can be used in many applications. When used with a laser machine to marking and engraving stainless steel, you can significantly expand your product line and processing capacity. Some common applications of laser engraving and marking stainless steel and other metals include:
- Personalized jewelry, such as pendants, bracelets, and rings.
- Memorial plaques, such as for dedications or memorials.
- Custom signage, such as for business logos or directional signs.
- Gift items, such as photo frames, keychains, and money clips.
- Housewares, such as coasters, wine stoppers, and picture frames.
- Corporate gifts, such as pens, lighters, and desk accessories.
The best method for laser engraving stainless steel is determined by the application and the final product. We always recommend that you test your design, power settings, and methods before producing large quantities of products. Some settings must also be adjusted based on the thickness, type, and grade of stainless steel used. Please join Monport Family for more information on metal engraving and laser engraving machines!