How I engraved aluminum at home. Metal etching.
Greetings, chemists and radio amateurs!
Since the beginning of the year, our Endurance team (LaserLab) has been asked a question, can we make a beautiful engraving on aluminum with a laser? And will it be available to everyone?
Finally we answer!
Aluminum is a common metal, so it’s no wonder people want to get their engravings on it. I gladly did it for the aluminum key fob, flash drive and the case of my mobile.
What are the properties of aluminum? Yes, metal. T_melting 600 degrees, with high thermal conductivity and often has aluminum oxide on its coating, whose melting point is more than 1100 degrees. Therefore, heat treatment will not be so simple. Let’s look at another option. As you know, wires are made of copper and aluminum. Aluminum is an excellent conductor, which means we can use the electrolysis process. This is the trick, read on! Namely, aluminum etching.
It’s simple!) We will need:
- Water (no more than 1 liter).
- Electric current source (from 9 to 12 V).
- Common table salt NaCl.
- Dielectric capacitance (for example, made of plastic).
- A nail or other sharp, hard object.
And of course the L-Cheapo laser! Power 3-5 watts.
Then follow the instructions:
1. Prepare the design you want to engrave on the aluminum plate.
For example, a bitmap image of a logo.
2. Get rid of grease on your aluminum specimen. Cover it with any of the following materials: brown tape, paint, varnish, tape.
3. Place the product on the 3D printer and start the laser (it is necessary to destroy the surface layer from step 2 and you will get open areas).
4. Stir the salt in the water to make a concentrated solution.
5.1. Take a current source (in the photo there is a red «plus» and a white wire «minus»).
5.2. Attach an iron object to the minus and lower it into the saline solution.
5.3. Attach a sample of aluminum to the plus and lower it into the solution in the same container.
6. Power up!
7. Wait for the electrolysis (etching) process in the solution for about 5 minutes. Depending on the concentration of the solution and the strength of the current, estimate the time needed for etching. We were able to etch a sample in a photograph in 3 minutes.
8. Remove the sample from the solution.
Before placing in the container with the solution, do not forget that your sample, which is to be engraved, must be carefully isolated from the external environment, with the exception of those areas where the engraving is to be applied.
You can conduct this experience both at home and in your workshop.
With this technology, anyone can become a metal engraver (at least aluminum).
All this is valuable and practical knowledge. We will be glad if you subscribe to Endurance news
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