Laser options for CNC 3018 to mark anodized aluminum

Hi all! I apologize if my English has errors, I am using Google Translate.

I have a 3018 CNC router that I currently use to mark dog tags, which are made from anodized aluminum. I use the V-bit to remove the colored layer of anodize and expose the aluminum.

I want to update my process to do it with laser, to improve the appearance of the final product and reduce production time.

I’ve been doing a lot of research and I know that CO2 lasers and fiber lasers are great options, however they are still out of my budget.

Currently I can buy a diode laser, and this is where the following questions arise:

  1. How many watts does the diode laser need to be to make a mark on the dog tag?

I understand that what the laser will do is “remove the color” from the anodizing layer, instead of removing it as the V-bit does.

I have seen photos of the marking made by a 5.5W laser and the aluminum underneath does not show as well. A 40w diode laser would be enough for what I want to do? I found this on AliExpress: Link to AliExpress

  1. Is there much difference between a 10w and a 40w diode laser in terms of production speed and appearance of the finished product?

I understand that the 40w is nominal power and that the real optical power is between 10w to 15w, depending on who made the laser.

I have even seen 80w lasers with 10w optical output power…

  1. Are there any advantages of fixed focus vs adjustable focus laser?

  2. What safety glasses do you recommend? Something that everyone agrees on is that the glasses that come with the laser are of poor quality. I don’t want to risk my eyes.

  3. Are Lightburn and the CNC 3018 compatible?

I thank you in advance for your opinions and experiences.

Yes, I have the same machine and use Lightburn with it.

A laser causes ‘damage’ to the material to make an engraving or to cut. The wavelength of the emitted beam must be absorbed by the material to cause damage.

Aluminum is about 99.6% reflective at the molecular level, making it difficult to engrave/cut because most of the energy is reflected away. Add to that problem, the metal is a good ‘heat’ conductor and takes the heat away very quickly.

I use a spray LBT100 for my co2 laser, don’t know how well it works for an LED laser.

I did see advertising about a Neje 80 watt laser, but it’s not on their site. So it may not exist…

Good luck


1 Like

@jkwilborn great! I will review the links. Thanks for comment!