Metal, Glass, Ceramics, Oh My! What You Should Know About Working with Each Material

Metal, Glass, Ceramics, Oh My! What You Should Know About Working with Each Material

Because metal, glass, and ceramics are all different beasts when it comes to laser engraving, we want to use this blog to hone in on tips and tricks of marking on each and achieving the best results.

Before we get to the differences, we first note the constants among them all:

(1) Always use uncoated material.

(2) Always optimize your settings to each particular material.

(3) When optimizing your settings, change only the speed from one test run to the next. The power and dpi should stay the same throughout all the test runs. (A detailed example of optimizing your settings on metal is available at https://enduramark.com/blog/optimizing-your-laser...

Now for the differences, starting with metal:

Marking on Metal

General recommendations

Laser settings:

When marking on metal, it is generally best to run your laser at 300 dpi using high power and slow speed.

Marking-material application:

It is best to apply a thin coating of marking material on metals.

Always err on the side of too slow

The surest way to make mistakes in marking on metal is to run your laser too fast. You’ll know that your speed is too fast if your mark is not durable and coming off. On the other hand, there is very little potential for durability problems to arise if you run your laser too slow. So, we recommend that you start with very slow speeds and then work your way up from there until you find the optimal speed.

Run your laser at 300 dpi with few exceptions

With only a couple exceptions listed below, it is generally best to run your laser at 300 dpi, as you will get no benefit from running it any higher. The exceptions are:

(1) If you have a lower-powered laser (less than 30 watts), you’ll get more durable marks if you add extra heat to the metal by running your laser at 600 dpi.

(2) You can get a better result on metals that are difficult to mark, such as aluminum and copper, if you run your laser at 600 dpi or higher.

Marking on Glass

General recommendations

Laser settings:

When marking on glass, it is generally best to run your laser at 600 dpi using high power and high speed.

Marking material application:

It is best to apply a thick coating of marking material on glass.

Run your laser at the faster end of the speed-settings spectrum

Running your laser too slow can cause the glass to crack or fracture, making the mark lift off of the glass surface. On the other hand, running your laser too fast can cause the mark to rub off. Because our glass-marking material works at a wide range of speeds, optimizing your settings on glass is generally a very forgiving process.

Run your laser at 600 dpi

We recommend that you run your laser at 600 dpi for glass because at 300 dpi, the mark may appear speckled or lighter-colored.

Specific points to keep in mind in optimizing your settings

For lasers that are 20 watts to 75 watts, we recommend that you run your laser at 100% power and find the optimal speed that works best with the wattage of your particular laser.

For lasers that are 80 watts or above, we recommend that you reduce the power to get 75 watts of output. (For example, you would run a 100-watt laser at 75% power.)

Marking on Ceramic

General recommendations

Laser settings:

When marking on ceramic, it is generally best to run your laser at 600 dpi using high power and medium speed.

Marking material application:

It is best to apply a thick coating of marking material on ceramic.

Run your laser toward the middle of the speed-settings spectrum

Although less common than with glass, running your laser too slow with ceramic can cause the ceramic to crack. If cracking occurs, the mark may lift off the ceramic surface or cause an indentation. Like glass, running your laser too fast can also cause the mark to rub off. But also like glass, ceramics will mark under a broad range of settings, so optimization is generally forgiving and straightforward.

Run your laser at 600 dpi

We recommend that you run your laser at 600 dpi for ceramic because at 300 dpi, the mark may appear speckled or lighter-colored.

Optimizing your settings

For all lasers within the range of 20 watts to 125 watts, we recommend that you run your laser at 100% power and find the optimal speed that works best with the wattage of your particular laser.

Conclusion

Getting comfortable with the optimal laser settings for each material ensures that each job goes smoothly and that the marks are attractive and durable.

The chart below provides a quick reference for the general settings required for each material: