Gum Arabic tile etching

I have started a new thread for this as the old one (New tile etching) was getting a bit long in the tooth. I previously developed a titanium dioxide mix using PVA glue as the binder. Recently many of you have been experimenting with Gum Arabic. I just had to try it for myself and compare it to my original PVA mix. Here are my findings.
First I have to say Gum Arabic is nice to work with and now I have got the recipe right I’m achieving some nice etched tiles. Here is an image of one done today.


This is my recipe.
Distilled water 200g or approximately 8 fluid ounces (heated in microwave) must be very hot.
50g gum Arabic (food grade)
50g titanium dioxide
Half teaspoon glycerine approximately 3g
Total weight 303g
I used an electric hand whisk and let it settle to get rid of air bubbles. Painted with brush and left to dry. Do not use hairdryer to speed up drying. Gum Arabic mix flakes off the tile when dryed this way.
Speed 1200 mm a minute, power 80% on Atomstack A5 with upgraded 10 watt diode laser head.
I hope this information is of help to others trying to etch tiles.
I do like the easy way this latest mix works. I will in future use this as apposed to my PVA mix. Main advantage is I’m getting a smoother cover on the tiles and it just rinsed off under running water from the tap. Inexpensive too.

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Please keep this family friendly.

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Sorry as I used a freely available cartoon from the internet, I thought it would be exceptable in this day and age. Will edit post later with a different image.

I don’t believe that “availability on the Internet” is a sufficiently robust moral guideline for community building.

I’m not going to drop the Official Warning this time. I’m willing to consider this a lapse in judgement or a minor gaff.


Thanks, Im quite happy with your actions. As I said, sorry if you considered it unsuitable for this form. I will find another image later

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Ok we try again with a new image. This one I did with a second coat of the Gum Arabic mix. The blacks look a little better, so you need to try one or two coats to see what is best for you.

Personally I prefer the second image which had two coats of the mix.

Please note this mix and the PVA version was made purely for glazed tile etching and I can not say what results other materials will produce.


Ha!!! Now that’s a recipe I can duplicate accurately. Now I have to buy some glycerine.

I’m not sure glycerine is essential. I have use a recipe recommend of making water colour paint. It said it helps the pigment to stay suspended so thought it would do the same for the titanium dioxide in my recipe.
One other thing that seems important is cleaning the tiles before coating. This mix may work better with a few drops of washing up liquid.

200gm is about 200 mL water on my scale. Add 50gm gum Arabig to very hot water gave me a chunk of hot rubber. Should this have been 5gm instead?

I tried 1 and 2 coats with the same result: The air downdraft peels the coating up from the tile once some is lasered. in other words, adhesion of the coating is too weak. Am I the only one having this problem?

I will admit this mix dries fairly flat without ridges.

I never use air assist on tiles so don’t have that problem. Note I did mention in my opening post that using a hairdryer to speedup drying lifts the coating off the tiles.

My “air assist” is the downdraft of the laser cooling fan. It is a pretty strong breeze.

You did not respond to my gum arabic quantity question…?

Sorry I didn’t answer your question. No the 50mg is correct. Did you add the gumarabic slowly while stirring the water? Even so it should have disoved in time. As for the flacking, was the tile clean before coating?

I tried, but a clump dropped in and it went downhill from there. Sitting overnight was no help.

Clean and sanitary too. Cleaned with acetone, then scrubbed with Dawn and a purple Scotch Brite pad.

I will try the gum dissolve thing again to see what happens.

Also note 8fl Oz equals 227 ml. I did say approximately.
Mg and ml are considered the same I have been told. Close enough for me at 85 years. Put your gumarabic in a salt pot and sprinkle it in.

Is that what we call a salt shaker where I live?

I don’t know where you live or what you call it. We use ours to put salt on our dinner.

Interesting! My daughter-in-law has one near the stove for cooking, but I have never seen one on the table. U.S. South.

Back on subject, tiles are briefly postponed while I experiment with white painted framed canvas from Michael’s.

This is always going to be a problem as you guys across the pond have different names for things to us English guys. A salt pot here is a small vessel with a single small whole in the top. We put salt in them and sprinkle salt over our meals. Using one to sprinkle gum Arabic powder gives you total control over how much is added to the water and gives you time to stir it in slowly. Our measurements also differ, so do remember to make any necessary adjustments.
My laser head also has air cooling but does not affect the coating. It’s just a gentle breeze. Air assist on my machine is a jet of air aimed at the laser beam to remove charcoal etc. When engraving wood. This is never used when etching tiles.

That it is why it is fun chatting with you guys!

There is a Youtube out there for the Sculpfun air assist. He has a bowl of water inder the nozzle. Without assist, it is blowing the water all over the place. Air assist blows it out of the bowl. No gentle here.

Can you please verify the recipe quantities.

Gum arabic is 50g in the first post and 50mg in another.