60: Tech Engraving

The notebook before we put it under the laser.

The notebook before we put it under the laser.

My first tech engraving experiment was quite a few years ago, when Brenn asked me to engrave his new Macbook with a geometric pattern.  It turned out great, but I haven’t really had the opportunity to carve things into technology since.  That’s why I was thrilled when a local friend, Reddy, asked me if I could laser engrave an illustration into his own Macbook.

Brenn's LaptopWhile Brenn’s design from a few years ago was dense, complicated, and meant to hide cosmetic damage on the lid of the laptop (which it wasn’t that successful at) the finished illustration for Reddy’s laptop was a clean line drawing that left much of the lid clear. This was a huge relief as the macbook measurements had changed and I was hoping to avoid having to design tightly around the apple at the center again.

The way light reacts to the engraved areas makes it difficult to photograph.

The way light reacts to the engraved areas makes it difficult to photograph.

The actual process of engraving the aluminum surface is interesting because it doesn’t matter how much power I fire at it (up to my maximum forty watts), it will only lightly mark the surface. Running a finger along the surface after the engraving is done and you can hardly feel the lines. Even more interesting is how light reacts: the engraved portions of the surface will either appear darker or lighter than the untouched surface  depending on the angle of the light source you’re near.

The engraving is so light that you can barely feel it.

The engraving is so light that you can barely feel it.

The tech engraving I’ve done so far has been raster engraving; I wonder if vector line patterns would engrave any differently. Conveniently, another local friend—Mark—has dropped off several left-over pieces of various Apple products for me to test engrave, so I have some more experimenting to do!

2 thoughts on “60: Tech Engraving

    • Ryan says:

      Thanks, Mox! Thankfully, the aluminum is such a strong material that even when firing the laser at it full blast, it’ll only mark the surface. I’m sure if I had a more powerful laser (I’m only 40w) it’d be a more significant concern. 🙂

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