What Metals Can Be Marked with Enduramark Black?
Which Metals Can Be Marked Using Enduramark?
With all the different types of metals out there, how do you know which ones you can mark using laser-marking spray and which ones you can’t? After thoroughly testing them all, we can answer that question by grouping the different types of metals into three categories: the Green Zone (go ahead, they work), the Yellow Zone (use caution), and the Red Zone (stop, they don’t work). We explain in more detail below.
(1)Green-Zone Metals (aka Metals that are the Easiest to Mark)
|Stainless-Steel (fastest speed settings)|
|Aluminum (slowest speed settings)|
The best example to show the importance of optimizing laser settings is to compare stainless-steel to aluminum. Although stainless-steel and aluminum are both in the Green Zone, they fall on opposite ends of the speed-settings spectrum, with stainless-steel on the fastest end and aluminum on the slowest.Generally speaking, all of the metals in the Green Zone are easily marked using Enduramark. However, like every material you mark, each of these metals requires you to optimize your laser settings.
As always, the risk is running your laser too fast. If you are seeing poor adhesion, run your laser slower. With aluminum, you may also want to consider increasing from the normally recommended 300 dpi to 600 dpi. If you are using a 30-watt laser or below, you may need to increase to up to 1200 dpi to achieve strong adhesion.
(2)Yellow-Zone Metals (aka Metals that Require Careful Consideration and Optimization)
Copper is tricky because it is a variable metal. Even one piece can be affected differently from one part to another. There is also variability in the thickness of each piece. It’s good to keep in mind that thinner pieces are generally a bit easier to mark and will be more likely to achieve better adhesion.
If you’re working with copper, we recommend that you use at least a 75-watt laser and run it at 1200 dpi and at a very slow speed setting.
Generally speaking, we do not recommend trying to mark anodized aluminum because it is variable like copper and even more complex to handle. The variability between pieces of aluminum seems to be based on how the anodization process was performed.
However, some people report good results with this type of treated metal, so we still keep it within the Yellow-Zone metals. Our advice is to optimize your laser settings on a test piece that is exactly the same and made by the same manufacturer as the piece you plan to mark with the idea that the anodization process should have been the same for both. Also, please be aware that different anodized colors can yield different results.
Unfortunately, because of the variability in the anodization process, you can’t just sit back comfortably and assume that a successful mark on one piece of anodized aluminum in the past will work the same on another piece this time. You’ll need to obtain an exact match for a test piece and optimize your laser settings each time.
Chrome-plated metals require extensive optimization and a thicker coating of Enduramark. Without a thicker coating, the laser will reflect off of the mirror-like chrome plating, causing poor adhesion. It’s also necessary to run the laser at a much slower speed setting than you would a metal like stainless-steel. This is true for any mirror-finished material.
(3) Red-Zone Metals (aka Metals that Simply Won’t Work)
|All Don't Mark|
Coated metals don’t work because the coating is typically plastic-based. Although you can sometimes mark directly on some plastics, you cannot mark on plastic or plastic-based surfaces when you use the laser-marking spray method. For example, brass trophy plates are coated with a plastic material to prevent corrosion, so you will not be able to get a mark to stay on them. In contrast, brass bullets work well because they are uncoated.You cannot mark silver or any coated metals using laser-marking material. The reason you cannot mark silver using laser-marking spray is a long, complex one, but the short version is that the particular chemical properties of silver make it incompatible with this type of marking.
Another example of a coated metal that won’t work is metal that is faux-chrome-plated or has a faux mirror finish. Rather than being coated with metal, those types of metals are covered with a powder coat that provides a mirror finish and only looks like metal. Because the coating is plastic-based, it cannot be marked.
As we’ve mentioned numerous times in other blogs, you must always optimize your settings for any material you plan to mark. However, some metals require more attention than others, and some cannot be marked at all. Keeping in mind the three categories of metals listed above can help you navigate the process and achieve the best possible results.