Poll

If I were to offer the service, would you use it?

No, not my thing
I might use it once or twice.
I would use it in occasion.
I would use the service frequently.

Author Topic: Considering offering laser etching service for enclosures, what say you?  (Read 4750 times)

jkokura

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Re: Considering offering laser etching service for enclosures, what say you?
« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2013, 11:36:21 AM »
There's the possibility too that you'd end up with people who make orders and then aren't satisfied. Consider what sort of policies you'd have in place for 'disgruntled' or 'dissatisfied' people?

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rullywowr

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Re: Considering offering laser etching service for enclosures, what say you?
« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2013, 11:58:10 AM »
Laser etching certainly is a lot of trial and error, and that can get expensive.  There are also many picky customers out there so it would be very inconvenient to etch something and they say they don't want it.   I know this first hand from trying to do various projects here at work with the laser here.

The other variable is that most laser etchers (30w) are not strong enough to mark metal by themselves.  They can only remove paint or other material on the surface.  This can often result in exposing the metal below the surface which has been discolored or is just not shiny.  Depends a lot on how the box was prepped before coating.  There are special marking tapes and surface coatings you can apply first before you etch, but I have had mixed results with these (http://www.rowmark.com/).

You may be able to dip your toe in the water by doing things such as cutting acrylic light plates, or even etching special "laser adhesive" metal labels for people for knob marking.  The shipping and cost to get into those would be a lot lower than powdercoated enclosures.  I like your idea, you just want to think through the feasibility and all the things that can "be a challenge."
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electrosonic

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Re: Considering offering laser etching service for enclosures, what say you?
« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2013, 12:21:32 PM »
Why not etch metal plates to fit over boxes - held down by pot and  switch nuts. Have a couple of standard Hammond sizes - and templates that people can use. The shipping would be much cheaper.

This is the basic idea ( I found some metal plates in a recycling store that are about the right size for a 1590BB)



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Re: Considering offering laser etching service for enclosures, what say you?
« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2013, 12:28:37 PM »
Laser etching certainly is a lot of trial and error, and that can get expensive.  There are also many picky customers out there so it would be very inconvenient to etch something and they say they don't want it.   I know this first hand from trying to do various projects here at work with the laser here.

The other variable is that most laser etchers (30w) are not strong enough to mark metal by themselves.  They can only remove paint or other material on the surface.  This can often result in exposing the metal below the surface which has been discolored or is just not shiny.  Depends a lot on how the box was prepped before coating.  There are special marking tapes and surface coatings you can apply first before you etch, but I have had mixed results with these (http://www.rowmark.com/).

You may be able to dip your toe in the water by doing things such as cutting acrylic light plates, or even etching special "laser adhesive" metal labels for people for knob marking.  The shipping and cost to get into those would be a lot lower than powdercoated enclosures.  I like your idea, you just want to think through the feasibility and all the things that can "be a challenge."
:)

These are all valid points.  Managing expectations will be the most important, and possibly most difficult part, of offering laser etching services.  Photos of good and bad colors to etch would be a good start.

But the best thing may be to simply not offer colors that don't etch well.  Since he is doing the powder coating, this is controllable.  People may lament the lack of light color options, but it will likely save headaches.
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pickdropper

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Re: Considering offering laser etching service for enclosures, what say you?
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2013, 12:48:02 PM »
Why not etch metal plates to fit over boxes - held down by pot and  switch nuts. Have a couple of standard Hammond sizes - and templates that people can use. The shipping would be much cheaper.

This is the basic idea ( I found some metal plates in a recycling store that are about the right size for a 1590BB)



Andrew.

This definitely looks cool, but you can't do it with the CO2 lasers that Jim is looking at.  To do that with a laser, you need a YAG or Fiber laser, which are significantly more expensive.
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aballen

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Re: Considering offering laser etching service for enclosures, what say you?
« Reply #20 on: December 07, 2013, 02:49:25 PM »
I would definitely be interested in this.  I'm actually working on a diy laser engraver myself, with a small laser, I'm just hoping I can etch through paint.  If it all works, I may scale up a little.

I think you would need to provide a template for each enclosure with a pre-sised border that you know will fit.  For me that means downloading your template, adding my graphics, and mailing my copy back in for an order.  It should be fairly easy to get repeatable results that way while reducing costly errors.  I can always remove the border, but I know I should stay within the lines.

Then you need some way of making sure there was no scaling of the image before you try to etch.