Laser engraving the backplate, power questions

Curious if there is anyone else that’s added custom laser engraving to the back of their Arduboy and can give information as to the power levels / amperage used when doing so.

I’ve got a 60 Watt CO2 with air assist that can cut as well, and I don’t want to slice up the backplate but I also don’t want to have to do repeat the engraving multiple times. IIRC it’s anodized aluminum, which I will have to be cautious with since that material can be cut at thinner thicknesses.

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We offer laser engraving services for orders larger than 100 units, by the way. But we’ve done it in the factory and a 3rd party service, so unfortunately I don’t know the settings.

Correct that you are just ablating (blasting away) the anodizing if done correctly.

It doesn’t take much power to do this, but it’s also important to watch the dwell time/speed of the engraving as this obviously effects the amount of energy going into the surface.

One thing you can try is to remove the back, and test different settings on the inside of the casing and start from lower power levels and work your way up until you are getting the results you like. In order to optimize the space you can just draw some test squares or circles, no need to draw the full design.

The back side has been media blasted to give it a different texture than the inside, so this will be a little different but shouldn’t effect the result too much.

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https://moduscreate.com/blog/announcing-evade-our-first-arduboy-game/

they did laser engraving, but I think they also used a subcontractor, but you can see how it ended looking in the page. I think you can test settings on the internal part of the back plate before you are sure.

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What material is the back plate made of?
Perhaps there’s a way for @NightByte to acquire some offcuts of that material to test on?

Disclaimer: I don’t know much about laser engravers or cutters just a bit I read when I was considering purchasing one once. I take no responsibility If you take out an eye skin your neighbours cat or burn your house down.

Post: I would have thought 60W a little underpowered for cutting metals beyond thin films at any considerable speed.
You should be able to have a rough practice on some empty drinks cans.

This chart may or may not be of any use https://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/academic/class/99353-f16/speedsfeeds_RL.pdf

Or you could look at iPhone backplate engraving as a starting point

Out of curiosity by air assisted is it compressed air or pure oxygen?

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The back cover is aluminum, don’t know the specific alloy. In general I can’t imagine you will get bad results (i.e. cutting through the metal all the way). I’ve laser engraved these many times at our office in china, and I never really bothered to configure the settings that much. Generally I left it at whatever the previous person had it configured for, and then if it was too dark or too light I would adjust the speed and power by 10-20%. Usually only took 2 or 3 attempts to get it where I wanted.

How reflective the surface has a dramatic impact on the amount of energy that is actually absorbed by the material. With pop cans being so shiny I would imagine it’s kinda tough to judge. You’re also working with a polymer based paint on the outside and a coating on the inside so be aware of fumes if you do that and it may actually burn a little bit.

If you see any online tutorials with settings for iDevices our surface finish is pretty similar and would be a good place to start.

But really, just making some small circles on the inside of the case… if you did 3mm filled circles you’d be easily able to fit 10 of them across the “width” (short dimension) of the case at 10% power increase. Then you could test your artwork at a smaller scale and if that then is too dark or too light you’ll still probably have room for 1 or 2 more attempts.

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This and an amount of crud building up on your mirrors is a pita.

Its not uncommon to cover a reflective surface with a removable matt coating, actually I wonder how some Cermark Spray would come out on an Arduboy.

Thus my interest in purchasing a cheap CO2 laser cutter has perked again…

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Thanks everyone!

@bateske Thanks for confirming, that was my main worry that it may have been some weird alloy (notably magnesium which I assume wouldn’t play well with lasers).

I didn’t even think of testing the back of the case, I’ll run a few tests there.

@Keyboard_Camper

It would be hard to cut through even thin aluminum as the unit is advertised, since it’s not particularly strong, however during the “Holy s### I just bought a laser engraver” period I tried cutting some ~1mm aluminum anodized aluminum with an upgraded laser tube with partial success, and thinking back to that got me a bit scared about what I may accidentally do to the Arduboy.

I have done the iPhone backplate with success, I’ll try to find the specs I used and duplicate that. In the meantime i think I’ll just make a jig to hold the Arduboy in the exact same place so i can try multiple times.

My unit is compressed air.

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I just laser engraved my arduboy today! What I used was a 40 watt CO2 epilogue laser at my school at 100% speed and 60% power and it looks great!

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Neat.

Seeing that makes me want my trademark skull logo engraved onto the back of mine.
Maybe I’ll look into it.

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Yeah maybe trademark your username also :wink:

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More!!! More !!! MORE!!!

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Maybe https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1000mW-laser-engraving-machine-High-Speed-Mini-USB-Laser-Engraver-Carver-Automatic-DIY-Print-Carving-Machine/32782536166.html

or https://www.aliexpress.com/item/K3-1500mW-Mini-CNC-Laser-Engraving-Machine-Engraving-Area-DIY-Logo-Automatic-Engraver-Cutter-Carver-Engraver/32848876290.html <- because the open design :stuck_out_tongue:

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No idea how much it would cost to register.
I’ve had the name since 2007 and up until about 2012-2014 it was pretty unique.

It’s got really bad since the release of Overwatch because loads of people misspell Pharah (god knows how they manage it, but they do).


@eried, I’d probably ask around to see if any local places already have an engraver.
I don’t have £70 to spend on a whim :P

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Probably that is cheaper than wandering around in the city due gas prices and service costs. Plus learning is invaluable.

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If I lived in a big city like London then maybe.
But I don’t, I live in a small/medium town and I can get around (almost) the whole town on a bus ticket.

If this thing would do the job then I already know of a place in town where I can get it done.

Failing that, Bristol’s not too far and it’s a big tech hub so it’s almost guaranteed to have laser engraving services.
(Plus it’s a nice day out. A couple of decent museums and restaurants.)

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I’m not even sure of anywhere in London that does laser engraving for a reasonable price.
3d printing also worked out expensive last time I checked. I was thinking of buying one of the 40w Chinese blue co2 lasers but it looks like they have also jumped up by £100 since I last looked.

A little OT but I still need to do Bristol zoo and the Cotswolds.

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I forgot about London prices.

Maybe the west country has the upper hand when it comes to tech?
We do have Dyson after all.

(I did Cotswold Wildlife Park as a school trip in primary school.
And I’ve been to Bristol Zoo at least twice. The Ring Tailed Lemurs are my favourite.)

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If you guys cant find anywhere to get laser engravings for a decent price I might be able to help. I have access to a 40 watt epilogue laser cutter and a good amount of experience with it (from engraving glass all the way to my own Arduboy) I even have access to a vinyl cutter so I might be able to test out skins for the arduboy. If you want more information just send me a message and we’ll figure it out.