New Method for White Tile Engraving: Norton White Tile Principal Component Method

In this blog post I detail the method I developed to apply TiO2 to tile for laser engraving. It has the benefits of significantly reduced fumes, no dry time, consistent results, and easy cleanup by washing with water, while producing the same indelible results the Norton White Tile Method is known for.


Thank you for this, I will be trying this week :sunglasses:

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Thanks for sharing :+1:

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Hey, thanks for this!

What grade ethanol do you use? I’m finding 90%, 95%. 99.5%, 100% all with increasing prices as purity goes up. Does it matter for this?

Looks like I can get the titanium dioxide locally and I’ve got an airbrush. :slight_smile:
Have you tried spin coating a tile instead of airbrushing? I used to spin coat etchant resist on to circuit boards and it gives a pretty even coating.

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Hi guys, I’m only on the side taking all this in, but, I like the spin covering idea :sunglasses::grin:

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I used 95% ethanol (everclear grain alcohol) I would hazard to guess industrial ethanol works as well as what I used. Probably just any are workable might just have to alter the ratios a bit. I have not tried spin coating that probably would be quite effective I think.

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Excellent, I’ll pick some up next time I’m in town. Thanks!

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Guys please believe me when I say I have lived my life with many substances and materials that later in my life were found to be less than good for the human being.
What to do ??

But I was just searching for a paint store here in BUlgaria that might have paint with TiO2 so I could go buy some and try to get some of these great image results, and I found this:

Can titanium dioxide kill you?

There is evidence that titanium dioxide nanoparticles can be inhaled by some mammals, possibly even humans, and that ultra fine particles are more toxic than larger particles. Nano sized titanium dioxide can irritate the lining of the lungs and may cause enough injury to trigger a cancer-like response.Mar 19, 2018

So, please wear a mask, maybe you are because of Covid, but this could be another good reason to :slight_smile:


Yeah, bad to breath the stuff. That’s one of the 2 reasons I was curious about spin coating instead of spraying. Spin coating would likely put a lot less of the product in the air.

Yeah that’s why I was sure to include pretty clear notes about doing any spraying in well ventilated areas and that inhaled TiO2 is a known carcinogen, don’t want people getting into something without some knowledge of the danger. I appreciate the heads up.

Also as this material is definitely not good to breathe, spray paint is likely significantly worse, as it’s not only carcinogenic but causes acute tissue and organ damage. Which was a reason for me trying to move away from spray paint in general.

Man you were very clear but I thought it was more about the thinning agent :thinking:

I’ll be trying it, just well hidden behind a mask ,:shushing_face::crazy_face:

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Definitely better safe than sorry that’s for sure!

This may be useful in evaluating toxic exposures to TiO2:

  1. The toxicity of any TiO2 inhaled (it appears not be be a carcinogen)
    Titanium Dioxide: Inhalation Toxicology and Epidemiology
    The Annals of Occupational Hygiene, Volume 49, Issue 6, August 2005, Pages 461–472,
    24 March 2005

  2. Spin coating of TiO2 onto ceramic tiles
    Their method of preparation is more complex than the one suggested but 800 rpm for 30 s was used. If you are concerned about inhaling TiO2, I would expect spray painting to produce more particulates.

  3. The protection afforded by face masks.
    Face masks are not respiratory protection. My quantitative fit testing of face masks gives a protection factor (PF) of 2 - a 50% reduction of airborne particulates. As the generation of airborne particulates is a thermal process, the particulates would be likely to be very fine (a fume) and it is unlikely this level would be obtained. If a N95 mask is properly fitted (this is actually very difficult to achieve, even with a smooth, clean shaven face), the reduction could be 95% (PF of 20). The limiting factor is the seal to the face. Many face masks used for COVID are of cloth with poor filtration properties and the overall protection would be much less than 50%.

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Great stuff, thanks for doing the leg work on the research I really appreciate it! I’ll update my post with the additional information this evening! I will say that members of the lightburn forum led me to the info, and can mention your username or last name specifically if you would like.

Impressive, and informative … Thank you…

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Very useful thread! I’ve used the spray paint method, but like the idea of using straight TiO2 as I wouldn’t need all the messy cleanup or VOCs after exposure.

I like the idea of Spin Coating, but it would have to be a mechanical chuck as I wouldn’t trust a vacuum chuck to work on the bottom side of tile. I’m not sure I like the idea of a tile flying across the shop after breaking loose from a spinner. Any idea what RPM you would need?
@deeuubee I missed your comment #2 above. However, I’m not sure that data helps much (different solution and different thickness targets), but it does provide an outside datapoint. Thanks.
@Hank, what speeds have you used in the past?

I’m not sure why Denatured alcohol wouldn’t work. It’s not serving as a solvent, it’s only a highly evaporative carrier. Denatured alcohol would be a lot cheaper and easier to get than 95% pure ethanol. There was only comment in the cited posts that claimed “You can dissolve in Ethanol and Methanol. Ethanol is better.” without any supporting information. Maybe in a production environment this is true, but for those of use who would do just a couple of tiles at a time, I’d be amazed if the carrier makes a significant difference. Especially after seeing how tolerant the original NWT method is.

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im almost entirely sure that denatured would be as effective as standard ethanol. I have some being currently shipped right now and will be testing it out once it arrives.

Ofcourse … here in Belgium Titanium Oxide is not available on the market for home users …

Sad news, hopefully some more research comes out to convince the EU its safe (its already pretty extensively researched so who who knows how much more they need)

I tried this today and it certainly produced a nice clear black line on white tile. My question is that it doesn’t appear to ‘burn’ in to the tile but rather place what appears to be a rather durable surface on top of it. Is this accurate?

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