Many people ask us if metals can etch with their CO2 machines. And the answer is, yes, it is possible to engrave metals with a CO2 machine. And with a process of applying special paints that react chemically at the time the machine does the engraving. But it is not the best way to do it and it is not the cheapest way. In this blog we will explain the best way to engrave metals.
What kind of chemical can I use to burn metals with CO2?
There are several types of chemicals that use for the marking of metals in CNC CO2 machine, the most recognized are: Cermark, Thermark, Enduramark and LaserBond 100. Being Cermark the first brand to know for marking metal in laser machines. All and each one has a solution for the engraving of metals, either in the form of paste to apply on the metal, from formula to prepare and apply to spray cans. This type of chemical solution is one of the best but its price is quite expensive, however its finish. And its speed of both drying and working not as optimal as the engravings that can make with fiber optic laser machines.
1) The types of metals that I can engrave.
There are several types of metals to engrave. But the most common metals to engrave on a CO2 CNC machine are: Stainless steel, Steel, aluminum, some anodized metals, copper and brass.
These metals being the most common to work and the best results obtained in the final work. Although there are more types of materials and other types of alloys in which the final result is not going to be optimal or directly can not record as per example silver gold among others.
2) Certain metal materials can etch directly without chemicals
Metals such as anodized steel and aluminum, are the very common metals found in P.O.P advertising items such as pens, USB drivers. And even some cell phones, among other anodized metal products. These metals have a paint that can be removed with the CO2 Laser machine. But they have the limitation of the base color, since the laser machine can remove a large amount of paint but cannot remove all the paint. This generates that the work done with the anodized metals are left with a small case of the color of the material. For example: assuming that we are going to engrave a dog plate in red anodized aluminum, after having engraved it. The name of the dog and all the contact details of the owner are going to Having a reddish color throughout the recorded area. Therefore the engraving will not have a totally clear and clean effect.
3) The best metal to burn with CO2 is steel
Stainless steel is the best material to work engraved on a CNC CO2 machine, since this material has less capacity of thermal coefficient compared to aluminum. This means that the light beam not reflect as if reflect by aluminum. When the beam of light generated by the machine not reflect, it means that it stays longer in the metal. So it can burn with a darker color and better quality.
Is there another cheaper way to burn metals with a CO2?
On this question there are many answers and many suggestions of what type of chemical can use. But not all of them are effective and you can run the risk that the machine does not etch the metal or that the machine suffers damage due to reflection of the Do in the lens. One of the products use to engrave metal in a cheaper way is the CRC Dry Moly Lube. This chemical which is a dry lubricant for high friction parts, works in a fairly good way on stainless steel. But does not work in the same way on aluminum, copper or brass as its similar chemicals created specifically for engraving on metal. The brasso also use as an alternative, which is a metal shine. These two options normally use as alternatives to “Official metal engraving chemicals”. It should remember that its use to engrave metal is only on stainless steel. Since other metals such as copper when cleaned or with alcohol, the engraving easily comes out of metal.
Can you erase the engraving over time?
A well-engraved metal engraving with the correct working parameters. And the correct material does not have to erase from the metal. Even a chemical etching on a smooth metal should not erase. Even if the chemist is a non-“official” one the CRC Dry Moly Lube (in stainless steel). Because the engraving on the metal is usually an engraving with a slow speed and a tube power considered high. The only way to erase an engraving on metal, is by passing a sandpaper to polishing metal. This being the only really effective way to erase or fade an engraving made on a CO2 machine with chemical process.
Parameters are also very important.
Returning to the previous point and especially the fact that the metal has reflective capabilities. One of the secrets for a better result correct engraving parameters and a clear and good design. But above all a good parameter setup makes a big difference. Between an engraving on metal that erase in a very easy way to one that not erase from the metal, the latter even applies to low wattage machines.