Trouble Engraving Anodized Aluminum

I am a noob with the laser and Lightburn. I have had success with everything I have tried to engrave so far but no luck with two different types of anodized aluminum blanks purchased on Amazon. I have tried various speeds and not a mark… baffled.

Anodized aluminum is hard to get dialed in general even when you are able to mark it. It would be good to start with some details about your setup and what kind of machine you have.

A CO2 laser can burn away the anodize. I am not sure that a diode can.

It’s going to take a lot of power to get through some anodization. Darker colors are easier to ablate than lighter ones. Make sure your focus is dead on otherwise it’ll be an exercise in futility. I’ve only done it with a 60W CO2 machine and haven’t tried it with my 40W machine. I remember it taking something like 85% power and 10mm/sec. I do remember there were multiple passes involved, but I don’t remember how many.

What’s your machine?
My limited experience is that it doesn’t take much power at all to engrave on most anodized aluminum.
I’ve scanned names on to a few flashlights and got great results with 300mm/sec @ 10-12% power (5-6mA on a 80W machine)

Thanks to everyone for the quick responses. I obviously need more power. I am only running a 4.2 Watt J Tech diode laser. I have been experimenting for two days after hooking up my laser and was under the impression by J Tech Photonics website that it was easy to engrave anodized aluminumn with my unit… not so. Of course I already have plans to upgrade to lots more power. Thanks again.

Well, I’m total noob to the laser engraving thing, but I guess I’d be rather surprised if you can’t engrave anodized Al with a 4+ watt laser.

I’m only using a small fraction of my available power along with a fairly fast scan rate. I would think that at a slower scan rate 4 watts would be plenty to make a significant mark at least.

You can engrave other materials? Wood? Acrylic? Cut paper?

I engrave anodized Al all the time with my diode lasers. Anodized finishes aren’t all equal. I’ve bought stuff from McMaster and my buddy’s CO2 couldn’t touch it, let alone my machine. I buy all my stuff from Chewbarka and have had great success with their anodized stock using a diode laser. The laser only removes the dye not the anodize treatment itself.

FYI -You may notice wavy lines when you mark metal. Make your step over insanely small or defocus your laser some. The color is only removed exactly at the beam’s spot, its not like wood where it chars and fills in the gaps. I run my diode laser at 1200-1500mm/min.

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Marking anodised aluminium is not like marking other metals. It doesn’t ablate the anodising, it bleaches the dye.

If you have a low-contrast piece - like white or yellow or silver - it’s likely you won’t see any effect unless you get a bright light at an angle.

There’s no removal of material to leave a physical pit or ridge - oxidised aluminium is incredibly tough - too tough even for high-wattage CO2 lasers.

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