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Metal Laser Engraving: The Ultimate Guide

by Winnie Li Updated on May 29, 2024
metal laser engraving

Metal laser engraving, a cutting-edge technique that's reshaping how we design metal. This method isn't just for businesses; it’s used by individuals too; to craft personalized metal jewelry and other useful ornaments.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore metal laser engraving in detail, and uncover the types of metals suited for laser engraving. We’ll also share some innovative engraving ideas to spark your creativity.

In This Article

  • How Laser Engraving Metal Work?
  • What Metal Can be Laser Engraved?
  • Best Laser Engraver for Metal Engraving
  • How to Laser Engrave Metal?
  • Metal Laser Engraving Ideas
  • FAQs on Metal Laser Engraving
  • Conclusion

How Laser Engraving Metal Work?

The heart of the process is a laser, an intense beam of light, powerful enough to erode metal from the surface. When the laser hits the metal surface, it is absorbed by the metal. They use that energy, and vaporize, leaving an engraved mark on the metal. In chemical terms, this process is called as sublimation as the metal directly moves to the gaseous state from the solid state.

The laser beam intensity (power) is variable and controlled by laser engraver software. It changes that intensity based on the design requirements. The laser strikes with more intensity on areas where deeper engraving is to be achieved.

color laser engraving on metal

In some metals, we observe vivid colors after engraving. Color laser engraving is a result of the reaction between the protective coating (oxide layer), such as on stainless steel, with the laser beam. The colors vary based on the metal type, speed, and power of the laser. In uncoated or pure metals, you may not observe these results.

What Metal Can Be Laser Engraved?

Some examples of metals that can be laser engraved are:

1. Stainless Steel

laser engraved stainless steel tumbler

Stainless steel is one of the most preferred options these days. It is used to make bottles, kitchen utensils, tools, surgical equipment, and a lot more. All these things can be engraved or etched using a laser engraving machine. Stainless steel can be etched by a diode laser, IR laser, and CO2 laser. For stainless steel engraving, you need a fiber laser engraver.

2.  Steel

There is no question about the usage of steel in our daily lives. It is used to make tons of products and items. Steel can also be laser engraved or etched. The permanent marks are usually made for identification of the manufacturer or part.

3. Aluminum

personalized engraved laptop

Aluminum is another common metal used for making various items we use in our daily lives, such as kitchen utensils, business cards, electronic products, etc. It can be engraved for personalization or identification. 

4. Titanium

Titanium is another useful metal material for jewelry, prosthetics, surgical tools, airplanes, and many other things. Most of the time, it is laser engraved for identification and personalization. For instance, prosthetics can be given a special identification number or rating using laser engraving.

5. Copper and Brass

laser engraved copper coins

Laser engraving machines can also engrave or etch copper. Copper pipes, wires, automobile parts, cooking pots, and other products can be laser engraved or etched for identification.

6. Gold

laser engraved gold medals

Jewelry items, trophies, and medals made of gold can be engraved and etched using a laser engraving machine. Jewelry items are engraved for personalization or gifting, while it is a must to engrave the medals and trophies.

7. Silver

laser engraved silver rings

Similar to gold, silver can also be engraved or etched with a laser engraver. It is done on precious jewelry items, trophies, medals, etc.

Best Laser Engraver for Metal Engraving

Metal absorbs beams of wavelength in the infrared section. So, for engraving metals, we have two options: fiber lasers and Infrared diode lasers

xTool F1 Ultra Fiber Laser Engraver

fiber laser engraver for metal: xtool f1 ultra

The xTool F1 Ultra, the successor to the F1, is a unique fiber laser in the market. It’s the world’s first machine to combine a 20W fiber laser and a 20W diode laser. The 20W fiber not only excels at deep engraving metals but can also cut them.

deep engraved metal coins
laser cut metal sign

The F1 Ultra uses fiber as the gain medium and galvo laser technology, making it the fastest desktop engraver on the market. With an engraving speed of 10,000 mm/s, it’s truly unprecedented for a desktop machine.

Unlike typical galvo laser engravers that are smart and fast but bulky, the F1 Ultra offers a large workspace despite being compact. Its basic working area is 220 x 220 mm, which expands to 220 x 500 mm with an additional auto conveyor. It can engrave metals up to 145 mm in height.

the auto conveyor feature of xtool f1 ultra laser engraver

The F1 Ultra is an all-around engraving solution, capable of handling flat, curved, and round surfaces. Its smart camera automatically adjusts the focus according to the surface profile, ensuring curved engravings are as precise as flat ones.

all-around engraving

Safety is a top priority with the F1 Ultra. It features a fully enclosed design with a laser-filtering lid that blocks harmful rays. The lid cover is smart; it auto-halts the laser operation if you open the lid during operation. Then, there’s an efficient smoke evacuation system that ensures clean operation.

Using the F1 Ultra is a breeze with xTool’s Creative Space (XCS). Simply place the metal inside, and the camera provides a surface preview. Position your design, and the smart camera auto gauges the material thickness, suggesting preset cutting parameters that you can customize.

The F1 Ultra also features an inbuilt touch-screen control panel with 7GB of storage. You can save projects and directly process materials without needing an external computer.

xTool F1 Infrared Diode Laser Engraver

For small-scale tasks hobbyist projects, diode lasers are recommended due to their cost-effectiveness and adequate performance.

infrared diode laser engraver for metal: xtool f1

xTool F1 is probably the lightest laser engraver on the market; it weighs just 4.6 kg. What’s more is the hand-held design, that makes it extremely easy to carry around. Perfect for on-spot metal engraving at craft fairs.

on-spot metal laser engraving

Another distinguishing highlight, something lacking in all engravers on the market: is a dual-laser module, which automatically switches based on the engraving job. It has a 10W diode laser and a 2W IR module.

The infrared laser is placed for metals and plastics. Whereas, the diode laser is for common materials like glass, acrylics, wood, cardboard, and leather. The duo makes it capable of engraving over 300 materials, making it a dream machine for both hobbyists and small businesses. You may easily perform color engraving on metals like stainless steel. Here’s how to use F1 to color engrave metal:

Engraving metals is a task of seconds with F1. Its engraving speed of 4000 mm/s is extraordinary in desktop lasers. The reason is the use of galvo-engraving technology in the F1.

F1 is a compact machine, so the working space inside is designed accordingly. It has a bed size of 115 by 115 mm that’s quite decent for engraving metal jewelry. However, an exten