Unlock Membership Benefits
  • Spend $1, Earn 1 Point
  • 10% OFF on accessories
  • $10 OFF on materials
Unlock Membership Benefits
  • Spend $1, Earn 1 Point
  • 10% OFF on accessories
  • $10 OFF on materials

Stainless Steel Laser Engraving: The Ultimate Guide

by Winnie Li Posted in December 05, 2022
laser engraved stainless steel items

We use many products that are made of stainless steel or contain several parts that are made of it. It is a commonly used material because of its shiny surface, durability, and corrosion resistance. Stainless steel engraving is also in great demand. It is engraved for the personalization of objects, identification marks, labeling, and other purposes.

Stainless steel is a hard material, which is why people have doubts about engraving it using a laser engraving machine. Secondly, there are various laser machines available, and it becomes difficult for a new user to pick the right machine. 

However, laser engraving could be a perfect option if you know everything about machine selection, best practices, and some awesome project ideas.

In This Article

  • Can You Laser Engrave Stainless Steel?
  • What Kind of Laser Can Engrave Stainless Steel?
  • How to Laser Engrave Stainless Steel?
  • 10 Laser Engraved Stainless Steel Project Ideas
  • Best Laser Engraver for Stainless Steel Engraving
  • Best Practices for Laser Engraving Stainless Steel

Can You Laser Engrave Stainless Steel?

Yes, you can engrave stainless steel using a laser machine. The laser beams are powerful enough to engrave the material. However, if you engrave it with a low-powered desktop laser engraver, the engraivng is not very deep, which is why it is often called laser etching.

Laser Etching Stainless Steel

When the laser beams react with the surface of the stainless steel, the temperature of the material increases rapidly and reaches the melting point of the material. After that, you see the marks on the surface. 

This temperature only melts the surface of stainless steel, but it is not enough to evaporate it because it is not at the boiling point.

Color Laser Engraving on Stainless Steel

A powerful laser can also add color engraving to some metals, including stainless steel. Usually, you see black markings on metals, but if the laser is powerful enough and it can oxidize the material, the metal will be etched with a certain color, making the etching or marking more beautiful.

color laser engraved stainless steel flasks

For laser engraivng on stainless steel, there is no need for material pretreatment using the right types of lasers. But for some laser engravers, if you want to get darker marks, it is better to use a special compound. Usually, it is called metal marking spray. A thin and even coat of spray is applied to the metal. After that, the laser beams react with this compound and leave a darker mark that is more visible.

Many applications require stainless steel laser engraving. The most common is the marking of barcodes, company names, tags, and other things. Other than that, it is also used to create designs on various objects. For instance, you can laser engrave a stainless-steel tumbler for customization. 

stainless steel laser engraving machine

xTool F1

Fastest Laser Engraver for Stainless Steel

Learn More

What Kind of Laser Can Engrave Stainless Steel?

It is a must to know the right laser for stainless steel engraving before you buy one. There are various types of laser engraving machine available, but not all of them offer the best results. Each machine has its pros & cons.

The laser engravers that can engrave stainless steel are:

  • Fiber Laser 
  • Diode Laser
  • CO2 Laser
  • Infrared Laser 

Fiber Lasers

Fiber lasers are the most suitable type of laser engraver for metal, including stainless steel. The first reason behind its phenomenal performance is the wavelength of the laser. 

The commonly available fiber lasers have different wavelengths ranging from 780nm to 2200nm. The wavelength depends on the doping of the core, which is done according to the application of the laser.

The wavelength of a fiber laser can be absorbed by metals, including stainless steel. Therefore, it can easily engrave or etch the material. Due to this, they are usually used for large-scale businesses.

The optical power of fiber lasers varies from 20W to several thousand watts, depending on the application. Some lasers can even cut various materials. But as far as the stainless steel engraving is concerned, small fiber lasers of 20-100W are also suitable.

The engraving results of a fiber laser are exemplary. With only one pass, the engraving is quite clear and visible compared to other types of laser machines. The best part is that there is no need for any pretreatment on the stainless steel.

Diode Lasers

A diode laser engraver is not as powerful as a fiber laser, but it can still etch stainless steel and make the marks you want. It is usually a blue laser, which has a wavelength of 450-455nm.

This wavelength can also be absorbed by stainless steel, but you don't get dark etching results in one pass. You might need to have two or more passes without material pretreatment. However, it is better to apply marking spray and etch the metal in one go.

Keep in mind that the results depend on the optical power of the laser. The commonly available 10W diode laser machines require more passes. But if you have got a 20W laser machine, it can easily engrave in one pass. But again, using metal marking spray is quite beneficial for achieving phenomenal results.

diode laser engraver for stainless steel

xTool S1

Diode Laser Engraver for Stainless Steel

Learn More

CO2 Lasers

A CO2 laser engraver is also a good option that can be used to engrave on stainless steel. These lasers are more powerful than diode lasers but still lesser than fiber lasers. However, they can engrave steel with perfection.

CO2 lasers have a much higher wavelength than other types of lasers we have discussed. It is usually 10,000nm. However, it can also be absorbed by some metals, including stainless steel. The important thing about CO2 laser engravers is their power. They usually have a 40W or higher optical power, which is good for engraving stainless steel at a better speed.

Similar to diode lasers, CO2 lasers also require material pretreatment for better results. You should apply marking spray to the surface of stainless steel before engraving it.

Infrared Lasers

Infrared lasers (IR lasers) are another type of laser you can use for stainless steel and other metal engravings. It is also a kind of diode laser, but its wavelength is quite higher than blue lasers. 

The main purpose of this laser is to engrave metals, especially precious metals such as gold, silver, and platinum. However, it can also engrave other metals, such as stainless steel, copper, aluminum, and titanium.

fastest IR laser engraver for stainless steel

xTool F1

Fastest IR Laser Engraver for Stainless Steel

Learn More

Its result for metal engraving is excellent. It is because their 1064nm laser beams are easily absorbed by metals. Therefore, you see clear, clean, and visible results without any pretreatment. Other than metals, these lasers are also excellent for plastic engraving and cutting.

laser-engraved stainless steel jewelry with infrared lasers

How to Laser Engrave Stainless Steel?

Laser engraving is a high-quality, precise and efficient way to engrave stainless steel, allowing you to create intricate designs and permanent marks on various items made of it. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to engrave stainless steel with a diode laser.

1. Choose the Right Laser Engraving Machine

As we mentioned above, laser engraving on stainless steel can be done by certain types of laser machines. For stainless steel engraving, a fiber laser is the best option while you can also choose a diode laser if you want a more affordable option.

diode laser engraver for stainless steel

xTool F1

Diode Laser Engraver for Stainless Steel

Learn More

2. Prepare the Stainless Steel Surface

Make sure the surface is clean and free of dust, grease or oil. You can apply a special laser marking spray or tape to enhance the contrast and quality of the mark.

3. Prepare Your Design

Your laser engraving design can be anything from simple text to complex images. You can use any vector or raster graphics software to create your design file, such as CorelDraw, Illustrator or Photoshop. You need to save it in a compatible format for your laser machine, such as DXF, AI, PDF or JPG. 

4. Set up the Laser Engraving Settings

 Import the design and adjust its size according to the stainless steel object to be engraved. 

Depending on your laser engraving machine model and software, you need to adjust the power, speed, frequency and focus of the laser beam. You can use a test piece to find the best combination of parameters for your desired result.

Here are the laser engraving stainless steel settings if you use an xTool machine.

5. Postion the Design

Use the machine's camera system or framing preview to position your design accurately on the surface.

6. Start Engraving

Press start and watch your design come to life on the stainless steel.

10 Laser Engraved Stainless Steel Project Ideas

Laser Engraved Stainless Steel Tumbler/Cup

Stainless steel tumblers and cups are the favorite items you can engrave with a laser machine. These are personalized with names, intricate designs, and other things. 

laser engraved stainless steel tumbler

People also love to give these personalized cups and tumblers to their loved ones. Even if you want to make it for yourself and your family members, it is a great idea.

Stainless steel tumblers are available on the market. You can buy these from online stores as well as local stores. Once you have them, they can be easily engraved using a fiber laser, CO2 laser, infrared laser, or diode laser. However, in the case of CO2 and diode lasers, you need to apply the laser marking spray.

You also need a rotary attachment to rotate the tumbler or cup during engraving. Without it, engraving won't look good.

laser engraver for stainless steel tumblers

xTool F1

Fastest Laser Engraver for Stainless Steel

Learn More

Laser Engraved Stainless Steel Pendant

For lovers, stainless steel pendants are exceptionally attractive. They can engrave the name of the person, a special date, or anything they like. It is a very simple idea that beginners can also try. Secondly, you can also sell customized laser-engraved pendants online.

laser engraved stainless steel pendant

Laser Engraved Stainless Steel Photo

Photo engraving is also an attractive art piece. People like to hang their engraved photos in their homes. It is also an amazing anniversary or birthday gift item.

You can easily engrave a photo on stainless steel. For better contrast, you should use laser marking spray. All you need is a piece of stainless steel, and then engrave the photo on it. Later, you only need to make two holes to attach a string to the engraved piece to make it a wall hanging. Moreover, you can put it in a photo frame or on a photo stand.

Make sure the piece of stainless steel has no scratches or dents. It should be cleaned before engraving the photo. All these practices make your photo more attractive.

Laser Engraved Stainless Steel Keychain

Stainless steel keychains are quite trendy because they look beautiful and are durable as well. Using a laser engraver machine, you can make personalized stainless-steel keychains. 

There are many choices for engraving a keychain, including a personal photo, celebrity photo, logo, quote, etc. It is used for gifting purposes. It is also an excellent gifting idea for businesses to engrave their company logo and information on stainless steel keychains and give it to their clients, visitors, and workers.

laser engraved stainless steel keychain

Laser Engraved Stainless Steel Nameplate

A nameplate is a must for every house or office. Stainless steel nameplates are unmatchable because of their shiny appearance and durability. They can withstand any weather condition, so they can be placed outside the home without any worries. Other than the house signs, you can make name plates for office doors and desks. 

People often need these customized nameplates and signs. You can start a new business using a laser machine. You only need a small piece of stainless steel, and you are ready to engrave it.

Personalized Engraved Steel Bowl

An engraved steel bowl is a very unique and simple gifting item for lovers. It is nothing but a handmade bowl, and then the bowl is engraved using a laser machine. You can write a message, quote, or anything else for the lover.

Personalized Engraved Bookmarks

Personalized stainless steel bookmarks make great gifts for reading lovers. There are many choices for engraving it, including a date, name, photo, quote, etc.

laser engraved stainless steel bookmarks

Finally, you need to attach a tassel or ribbon to the bookmark to make it more attractive.

Metal Snowflake

For Christmas and new year, it is a nice item. If you are looking for a unique gifting idea for your loved ones or customers, this is it. It is a simple stainless-steel snowflake that you can make using your laser machine.

Take a small piece of metal and cut it into a circular shape. Then, you can engrave the snowflake design of your choice.

Engraved Bracelets

Customized bracelets are quite trending these days. You will find various designs on which the name of the person is usually engraved.

laser engraved stainless steel bracelet

There are premade bracelets available on the market. You need to purchase them and engrave them using your laser machine. But keep in mind that you need to make sure the material of the bracelet is stainless steel.

If the bracelet is entirely made of stainless steel, you also need a rotary attachment to rotate it during engraving. But if the bracelet is of leather and it only has a flat piece of stainless steel, you can engrave it directly on the laser machine.

Knife Engraving

laser engraved stainless steel knife

An engraved knife is a traditional gift that people give to their loved ones. Some people like to collect these items.

You can engrave a stainless-steel knife using a laser machine without any hassle. You can make an attractive design to make the knife eye-catching. Other than that, you can engrave the names and dates. It can also be used as an anniversary gift for friends and lovers.

Best Laser Engraver for Stainless Steel Engraving

xTool F1

Metals absorb infrared (IR) beams effectively, which is why the xTool F1 is the perfect tool for the job. The machine features a 10W blue diode for engraving materials like wood, paper, leather, and a 2W Infrared specifically for color laser engraving metals like stainless steel.

The clarity of prints is important, particularly when engraving high-quality images on accessories. The F1 can produce UHD prints with a precision of 0.00199 mm. This precision is due to its advanced Galvo technology. It also makes it the fastest diode laser engraver on the market – you get an engraving speed of 4000mm/s, similar to what’s found in industrial fiber lasers.

Portability is another key feature of this machine. Its handheld design and weight of just 4.6 kg make it easy to transport. You can take it to craft fairs for live engraving demonstrations, which helps in attracting more customers.

portable laser engraver for stainless steel

The machine offers a working area of 115 by 115 mm. This area is expandable to 400 mm with an additional extension slot. Such space is ample for small metal accessories like keychains, pet tags, and metal cards. The machine also supports the RA2 Pro add-on. This attachment lets you engrave on cylindrical objects like stainless steel tumblers and flasks.

laser engraver for stainless steel tumblers

xTool F1

Fastest Laser Engraver for Stainless Steel

Learn More

Using the F1 is a breeze. You simply place the material inside and enter its thickness into the laser engraver software. Following this, the laser head automatically adjusts. There is also a manual knob for further adjustments. To preview your engraving, the machine provides a blue light feature. This feature gives a clear, real-time display before the actual process begins.

Safety is a paramount consideration in the design of the xTool F1. Its fully enclosed design, complete with a filtering lid, protects users from smoke and laser rays. The machine includes an exhaust fan that evacuates the interior and allows for venting smoke to the outside environment.

xTool D1 Pro

xTool D1 Pro is a diode laser machine that you can use on a wide range of materials. It is a desktop laser machine suitable for homes, small businesses, DIY, crafts, and other purposes. It offers optimal accuracy and amazing results.

xTool D1 Pro comes with the world's most powerful diode laser module, which has an optical power of 20W.

It can easily engrave and cut materials in one or fewer passes compared to other diode laser machines. You can also engrave stainless steel with this machine at an exceptional speed and complete the job in only one pass.

The most important thing about the laser module is the color engraving. Due to high power, the laser beams oxidize the metallic surface instantly, which ultimately brings vivid colors. 

Other than stainless steel, you can engrave other materials, including wood, acrylic, stone, ceramics, glass, etc. Therefore, you can fill up your inventory with a wide range of products. 

The best part is that you can also attach an infrared module to the xTool D1 Pro. You can buy it separately and engrave precious metals, such as gold, silver, and platinum, and other metals, like stainless steel, aluminum, and titanium. Therefore, you have different options for selecting the desired laser for the right material and purpose.

xTool D1 Pro is equipped with some advanced and exceptional features. 

Firstly, it offers incredible movement accuracy of 0.0004 inches and a repositioning accuracy of 0.0007 inches. Thus, you get perfect results every time. 

Secondly, it has made focusing the laser easier than ever before. With the built-in focus lever, you just need a few seconds to adjust the focus. 

Other than that, it has specialized software that is suitable for beginners. You can start without any prior experience.

The machine has a large engraving area that can accommodate multiple products or large items. 

You can get various accessories for the machine, such as the extension to increase the engraving area, attachment to do rotary laser engraving, air assist to help in fine and clean cutting, etc. 

Moreover, the machine has safety features to prevent accidents. It has an automatic turn-off system if the machine is tipped or there is any spark.

It is a beginner-friendly, upgradeable, and powerful machine that can not only engrave stainless steel but a wide range of other materials.

5 Best Practices for Laser Engraving Stainless Steel

If you are new to engraving stainless steel using a laser machine, you should look at these tips and best practices. These will bring perfection to your work and make it easier.

Clean the Surface

Cleaning the surface of stainless steel is very important, and people usually ignore it. There can be dust, grease, and other particles that can create a hindrance for the laser. Therefore, you must clean the material first before engraving it.

Cleaning is pretty simple. You need rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth. Clean the surface of the metal, and then it will be ready for engraving.

Adjust the Focus

Without the optimal adjustment of the focus, you won't get the best results. The laser cannot perform or engrave the material if it is not focused properly. You won't get a better contrast, or you might need to run more passes.

Therefore, make sure to adjust the focus in the first place before you start engraving. It is a must for every material.

Power-Speed Test

You cannot guess the right power and speed required to engrave an object or material. Therefore, you must do a power-speed test. It will tell you the right power and speed combination.

For stainless steel, it is recommended to engrave on high power and low speed. It will give you a better contrast. But when you do a power-speed test, you get a complete idea of the power and speed you need to select.

Moreover, some laser engravers produce various colors on different power and speed settings. With the help of the power-speed test, you get to know about the exact settings to achieve the desired color.

Apply Laser Marking Spray

Laser marking spray saves you from multiple passes. If you are using a suitable laser engraving machine, then one pass will be enough, along with the laser marking spray. With xTool D1 Pro 20W, you get phenomenal results in one pass, and there is no need to run more passes.

The spray is cleaned easily, so you don't have to worry about it. You can remove it using water and a cloth.

Try on a Cheap and Spare Material

Many times, people mess up with laser engraving. Due to wrong decisions and practices, they end up wasting the object they are engraving. Sometimes, the object is precious, and you cannot take any risk.

It is better to try on a cheap or extra material before engraving the real object. You can take a piece of cheap stainless steel and then try engraving it. It will save you a lot of time and money.

For more questions. Please join our Facebook group to get inspired!