Tool Location

Laser Cutters

Tool Type

Additive

Additional Information

Overview

CerMark is a liquid compound that allows a laser engraver to make permanent marks on metal surfaces. Normally, the laser isn’t effective on metals because they melt instead of burning, and CerMark doesn’t change that. Instead, CerMark bonds to the surface of the metal and leaves a clean, visible mark when enough heat from the laser is applied.

Capabilities

Bonding Strength

Laser markings made with CerMark are permanent unless it's sanded off. Chemicals and the like cannot remove the bonding.

Chemical Safety

CerMark is completely safe for contact with human skin and easily washed off with water.

Coating

CerMark works with uncoated material, so ensure to clean surfaces of any lubricants, oils, etc.

Materials

CerMark works on almost any uncoated metal. This list includes: 

  • Aluminum
  • Brass
  • Bronze
  • Chrome
  • Pewter
  • Stainless Steel
  • Titanium
  • Tool Steel

Common Metals that CerMark will not work on includes: 

  • Trophy brass (coated)
  • Anodized Aluminum (coated)
  • Copper
  • Gold
  • Silver

PPE

  • No additional PPE is needed to work with brush-on CerMark
  • If using spray-on CerMark, a respirator is required and application should be performed in the paint booth

Example Work

Laser Etched Business Card Holder

https://www.instructables.com/id/Decide-on-your-image/

 

The man in the instructable uses an aerosol spray can to apply the CerMark. The Invention Studio commonly uses a brush to apply it, but the overall process and result should be the same nonetheless.

Engraved Jewelry

Some nice, simple jewelry that anyone can design and create with a laser cutter and some CerMark.

Laser Etched Travel Mug

A great way to use both the rotary engraver attachment and CerMark in one project.

How To Use This Tool

Setup
  1. Shake the bottle of CerMark thoroughly before use.
  2. Apply CerMark in a thin even coating on the area on the metal for engraving.
  3. Allow the Cermark to dry completely (~5-10 min depending on thickness of coat) before engraving. Ensure that the CerMark bottle is sealed when not in use to prevent it from drying out.
Operation*
  • Engraving on CerMark is very similar to a normal engraving process with a few exceptions.
  • CerMark jobs should be simple, limited to a single color for engraving and no cutlines. This is because there is a single “sweet spot” of settings for engraving CerMark. Varying the power won’t make lighter or darker markings on the metal, it just risks a poor bonding.
  • The two images below show examples of possible laser jobs. The file on the left would not be successful for two reasons:
  • 1) Either only one engrave level will succeed; or they’ll both succeed and look the same.
  • 2) the Invention Studio Lasers can’t cut through metals. The file on the right represents best practices for laser engraving with CerMark.

    {Insert files/images here}

  • In general, CerMark settings involve high power and low speeds. Several factors affect the setting requirements: the type of metal being worked, the thickness of the metal, how quickly heat conducts through the metal, surface finish, etc. Having excess project material to test settings before running the actual job is strongly advised. Begin with settings in the range of 70-100 for power and 15-30 for speed.
  • WARNING: Unlike other materials, care must be taken handling metal after engraving. The metal will be hot from the engraving and needs to cool before removing from the laser.
Clean-Up

Once the laser engraving is complete, wash the surface thoroughly in a work sink (NOT a bathroom sink). CerMark is safe to be washed down the sink.

Basic Troubleshooting

Engraving rubs off:

There are two main reasons for CerMark to fail to bond to a metal. Either the metal is coated or the settings are incorrect.

  • Coating is particularly a problem with brass. Most brass easily available is “trophy brass” and has a coating to protect its glossy finish. This finish will prevent the Cermark from bonding with the brass. Attempts to polish off the coating has had unreliable success.
  1. If the engraving rubs off or leaves very faint marking, then more heat is needed to bond the CerMark . Either reduce the speed or increase the power. 
  2. If the engraving starts to become pale and flaky in some sections, then too much heat is being applied. Either reduce power or increase speed. 

References:

johnsonplastics.com. (2018). CerMark Metal Marking FAQ. [online] Available at: http://s3.amazonaws.com/jpmagento-public/documents/techtips/JPP_TechTips_CerMarkMetalMarkingFAQ.pdf [Accessed 7 Jul. 2018].

johnsonplastics.com. (2018). CerMark LMM6000 Metal Marking Paste. [online] Available at: https://www.johnsonplastics.com/engraving/engraving-supplies/cermark/cermark-lmm6060-100gram-metal-marking-paste [Accessed 7 Jul. 2018].

johnsonplastics.com. (2018). How to Optimize Laser Settings When Using CerMark Products. [online] Available at: http://s3.amazonaws.com/jpmagento-public/documents/techtips/Tech_Tips_Optimize_Laser_Settings_Cermark.pdf  [Accessed 7 Jul. 2018].

Author Information

Article was written by Reed Morris and edited by Jeff Park.

Last Updated: August 12 2018.

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