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Color Laser Engraving:
Enhance Your Creativity and Business

by Winnie Li Updated on March 09, 2024
color laser engraving

Aren’t you bored of getting the same black color after engraving and cutting? Wouldn’t it be exciting to have some vivid colors?

Color laser engraving is possible, and it allows you to get various colors that make your object more appealing. It can boost your business by enhancing your creativity. However, it cannot be done on all materials.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about color laser engraving. We will explain how it is done, which materials can be color laser engraved, and which laser engraving machine is the best for this purpose. You will get the answer to all your questions.

In This Article

  • What is Color Laser Engraving?
  • How Does Color Laser Engraving Work?
  • What Materials You Can Add Color to with Laser Engraving?
  • Best Color Laser Engravers
  • Conclusion

What is Color Laser Engraving?

When you laser engrave wood or other materials, the engraved parts appear to be black or gray. They are not colorful at all; you can’t get a blue or yellow color after engraving a material.

Color laser engraving is just the opposite of that. It means that the surface of the material that you engrave offers you vivid colors. It could be blue, green, pink, yellow, or anything else rather than the traditional and natural color of laser engraving.

color laser engraved metal items

It makes the material or objects more appealing and attractive. It is a new concept and is getting more popular day by day because it makes laser engraving more productive and allows the user to be more creative.

It opens a massive opportunity for business owners to create more attractive and unique products using a laser engraving machine.

How Does Color Laser Engraving Work?

Color laser engraving works on different methods and principles, depending on the material. But there are two basic principles. Either the color engraving is achieved naturally with the help of oxidation, or you need a coloring agent to get the desired color.

Usually, you can do color laser engraving on metals and plastics, so we will talk about these only.

1. How Does Color Laser Engraving Work on Metals?

Color laser engraving on metal is quite popular because you can see vibrant colors naturally after using a powerful laser on the metal surface. You don’t need to use any coloring agent or anything else; it is completely natural.

But keep in mind that you won’t see vivid colors with all laser engravers when you engrave a metal. It depends on the power of the laser as well as the metal. 

There are mainly two methods of metal color laser engraving. Although there are several more methods, we will stick to these two as they are mostly used, and they do not have limitations.

In the first method, the surface of the metal is turned into a molten form using a very powerful laser. During the melting process, oxidation also occurs. The surface of the metal oxidizes due to the high temperature and reaction with oxygen. 

color laser engraver

xTool F1

Fastest Portable
Color Laser Engraver

Learn More

The melted material solidifies again, but due to oxidation, a special-colored layer is created on the metal, which looks like colored engraving. Different laser power settings result in different levels of oxidation, which produces different colors. Therefore, you see vibrant colors on the engraved surface rather than the normal engraving color. 

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The second method is known as the Grating method. In this method, the color does not appear naturally; instead, a colored oxide layer is added to the surface. 

When the laser beams fall on the metal, it starts to melt, and the applied oxide layer also gets dissolved. As a result, it gives exciting colors. This method is quite useful for those metals that do not naturally offer colors after using a laser engraving machine. 

2. How Does Color Laser Engraving Work on Plastics?

Now, let’s talk about plastic. Unfortunately, there is no way to get color engraving naturally from plastics. But still, you can do the color engraving in two ways.

Firstly, you can use colored plastic for engraving. It will offer a different contrast after engraving.

Secondly, an artificial colored agent can be applied to plastic. It gets combined with molten plastic after the reaction of laser beams. After that, you see the desired colors. The best part about this is that you can select the desired color agent to get the desired color, which means the result is phenomenal and of your choice.

What Materials You Can Add Color to with Laser Engraving?

We have already discussed that you can add color to metals and plastic during laser engraving. Let’s have a look at what metals and plastics are suitable for this and what types of laser engraver you need to pick for their color laser engraving.

1. Color Laser Engraving on Metal

You can color laser engrave stainless steel, titanium, and other metals. These can be colored engraved directly without the need for a coloring agent.

color laser engraving on metal

Mostly, fiber laser engravers are used for engraving metals because they are specially made for metal marking. But you can also use a powerful diode laser or an infrared laser engraver for color engraving.

color laser engraver

xTool F1

Fastest Portable Laser Engraver with Infrared + Diode Laser

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You only need to put the metal under the laser machine and start engraving like you normally do. The laser machine will engrave the material, and the color will appear on the engraved part automatically. The color also depends on the power setting of the laser machine.

2. Color Laser Engraving on Plastic

Polyethylene is the common type of plastic for color laser engraing; however, there are more materials as well.

As we already discussed, you need a coloring agent for plastic color engraving. You need to apply it to the surface of the material. You can pick the desired color according to the project.

After applying the agent, you can engrave the material similar to other materials you engrave. You will see the color instantly after the laser beams touch the surface of the material.

Color engraving on plastic can be done using a diode laser, CO2 laser, and special fiber laser. 

Best Color Laser Engravers

xTool F1: Portable Color Laser Engraver

If you’re looking for a portable laser engraver – something that can be carried to local craft fairs or farmer markets – xTool F1 is the ideal choice. Its lightweight, handheld design makes it extremely convenient for engraving on the go.

For color laser engraving, especially on metal, infrared diodes are recommended. It features a 10W simple diode laser for engraving common materials like wood, leather, and stone, alongside a 2W 1064nm Infrared laser specifically for metal engraving.

xTool f1 color laser engraver

xTool F1

Fastest Portable
Color Laser Engraver

Learn More

The capabilities of the F1 don't stop there. It is the fastest diode laser engraver available, with engraving speeds of up to 4000mm/s. Such speeds are seen in industrial fiber lasers. But we have incorporated this capability into a compact machine through galvo technology.

This technology not only enhances speed but also dramatically improves accuracy. F1 offers Ultra HD prints with a precision of 0.00199mm.

HD laser engraving

Being compact, the F1 features a mini-bed size of 115*115mm, expandable up to 400mm with a slide extension. This area is sufficient for color engraving on metallic accessories like business cards, jewelry, key chains, and pet tags. Additionally, rotary engraving is supported with a separate RA2 Pro rotary attachment.

Ease of use is a key feature of the F1, thanks to our user-friendly XCS software. You can import various types of files and even create designs with our xAI feature. An added bonus is the real-time blue light preview, which shows you how your design will look like before you start engraving.

The machine is built for both indoor and outdoor use with safety in mind. Its enclosed design and laser-filtering lid protect against fumes and laser rays, while a built-in fan efficiently exhausts smoke outdoors.

xTool D1 Pro

For color laser engraving, we would recommend xTool D1 Pro. It is a very powerful, compact, affordable, and fast laser engraving and cutting machine.

The 40W module of the machine is the world’s most powerful diode laser module. It contains eight 5W diode laser sources, and the laser beams from them are combined to achieve incredible power.

Due to the immense power of the laser module, it can color engrave metals. It is able to bring a certain color to the engraving through the oxidation of the metallic surface. It can offer 340+ vivid colors that you can’t find anywhere else. With that being said, you can be more creative and make extraordinary metal products.

xtool d1 pro color laser engraver

xTool D1 Pro

Diode Laser Engraver

Learn More

The machine is ideal for small business, professionals, artists, and DIYers. It is packed with tons of features that make it the best choice for engraving and cutting. 

Firstly, it has got an incredible speed of 400mm/s. It can boost your productivity as you can make more products in less time. The best part is that even at such an exemplary speed, it offers an incredible movement precision of 0.01mm. 

It is a laser engraver with rotary attachemnt (buy separately) that will allow you to engrave 90% of the spherical and cylindrical objects. It is a combination of four types of rotary attachments that enhance your product range. Therefore, you can color engrave metal rings, balls, tumblers, and a lot of other things.

Due to the robust design, the machine will last for a long time. It has a strong metal structure that gives it the utmost support. It also has metal shafts and wheels that increase the life of the machine to three times.

The machine is beginner-friendly, and you can use it on your own. It also has dedicated beginner-friendly software that makes laser engraving and cutting easier than ever before. Plus, it has safety features to prevent fire and other accidents.

There are limit switches in the machine to ensure the correct positioning of the laser module. Moreover, you can adjust the focus of the laser module within a few seconds through its innovative lever.

The machine can be used for a wide range of materials, including wood, acrylic, metals, glass, etc.

It is an ideal machine to go with as it has incredible features. The most important thing about the machine is that you can upgrade it with the latest accessories and attachments, so it will never go outdated.

Conclusion

Color laser engraving can take your business to the next level. It allows you to be more creative and make unique and extraordinary products. You can color engrave on metals and plastic, and we have discussed the whole process behind it. It is good to have a laser machine that can color engrave items, and we recommend xTool F1 and xTool D1 Pro. Their powerful laser modules offer 340+ colors in metal engraving and allows you to cut and engrave a wide range of other materials as well. They're incredible machines for beginners, small businesses, professionals, and almost everyone who wants a compact laser machine.

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