What metal do I use for my applications

Supplier: Trotec Laser By: Suraya Diamond-Coorey
25 May, 2018

When it comes to metal engraving, aluminium is the universally preferred material for processing.

Aluminium is one of the most popular materials in the signs and display industry, and there are very good reasons for that...

  • Aluminium happens to be one of the strongest materials in the sign industry
  • It leaves you with a very professional, high-end look
  • It's perfectly suited for outdoor exposure due to its durable chemical composition

Keep in mind that different kinds of aluminium may vary in characteristics. We will give you an overview of which metal sheets are the perfect choices for your applications.

The All-Rounder: Anodised Aluminium Premium Line

Do you want to create high-quality pieces? Things like interior and exterior signs, name badges, promotional items, personalised gifts or photograph engravings? Well, anodised aluminium is the material for you!

We would suggest trying Trotec's Anodised Aluminium Premium Line for these kinds of applications. By removing the coloured coating on the material, you can create a white and detailed engraving. You can also reproduce any photographic-type image imaginable. Therefore, we would also recommend the Premium Line for high-quality engravings (ie, photo engravings). The Premium Line is the perfect range for indoor signs, outdoor signs and name badges in a range of different colours.

Which laser source is necessary?

A CO2 laser source produces great contrast, as well as a clear, bright engraving result. The darker and stronger the colour of your anodised aluminium is, the better the contrast. A fiber laser is a highly effective tool for marking anodised aluminium. 

Why Should I Use Trotec's Anodized Aluminium Premium Line?

Trotec's Anodised Aluminium Premium Line features an anodised coating of up to 22 microns, which happens to be the best quality available in terms of product durability and withstanding external factors. This top layer also protects the aluminium from chemical and physical damage, remaining intact throughout the entire laser process. Trotec's anodised aluminium range is suitable for engraving with a laser machine as well as mechanical engraving. It allows for very fine engraving details on a very strong, robust material - this is very rare. This material is very easy to handle as well. Finding the correct laser parameters and achieving the perfect results has never been simpler.

'The Explorer': DuraBlack®

DuraBlack® is the specialist for all outdoor / heavy duty applications. It benefits from a urethane protective top coat. Being resistant to sunlight (UV radiation), abrasions, high-temperatures and chemical exposure, it meets many different industry and military grade standards. DuraBlack® is available in 0.51mm thicknesses and can even be attached to curved or flat surfaces with adhesive, rivets or screws. When engraved it produces a high-resolution, white contrast. It is very well suited for bar coding and graphics engraving. 

Engraving ColourWhich laser source is necessary?

You can always use a CO2 laser source here. When using a fiber laser source, you will be left with a grey marking, which might be desirable sometimes. However, due to time reasons, we would still recommend a CO2 laser.

'The Black Elegance': AlumaMark®

AlumaMark®, which is different to most other aluminium products, creates a black engraving mark when lasered. We suggest using this feature for special products that need to stand out from the usual white aluminium engravings. AlumaMark® also enables 'half-tone' impressions and is therefore highly suited for photographic reproductions. 

Due to the specialised nature of this material, it is designed to be laser marked using very low power settings. This makes it ideal for the production of indoor plaques, awards, signs and nameplates. Settings must be adjusted much more accurately than with most other types of aluminium. 

Engraving Colour Which laser source is necessary?
Black CO2 - works perfectly fine
Fiber laser - not recommended for this application

The CO2 Laser Alternative: Ceramic Paste / Spray

Fiber lasers are generally used for laser marking metals. They are suited for direct marking with no post-processing on many kinds of metal. However, it is possible to apply a coating of something like MarkSolid onto stainless steel (for example) to allow it to be marked with a CO2 laser machine. This ceramic coating can be applied to your material in different ways - as a paste, spray, tape or even via air-brush. It is an easy and clean solution for creating permanent, high-contrast, high resolution metal marks with a CO2 laser machine.  

Engraving ColourWhich laser source is necessary?

A ceramic coating helps CO2 laser machines mark uncoated metals. When using a fiber laser, however, this paste is deemed unnecessary.

The Acrylic Alternative: TroLase Metallic Plus

If your application only calls for metallic aesthetics and not the functionality of real metal, you can use a wide variety of acrylic that takes on the appearance of metals. This can be an interesting and economical alternative for producing things like signs, badges, trophy plates and promotional items. You don’t even have to colour fill the engraved parts of the material - you can achieve high-contrast, sharp engravings easily. Trotec's TroLase Metallic Plus is very well suited for these kinds of applications, for indoor or outdoor purposes. 

Engraving ColourWhich laser source is necessary?
This depends on the core layer of the material

CO2 laser machines are the best suited choice for engraving acrylic material. 

Why should I use Trotec's TroLase Metallic Plus sheets?

Trotec's plastic sheets are perfect for laser engraving and laser cutting - they have been designed specifically for this. They have a very thin top layer, allowing for detailed engraving results at high production speeds. This material also requires very little post-production cleaning.