stainless steel laser etching powdered metals

When laser etching materials for industrial applications, it’s important to make sure that your etched surfaces can withstand heavy-duty wear and tear. This is especially important if you’re laser etching things like control panels or button controls where labelling and high visibility of lettering is an absolute must.

Thankfully, there are laser etching materials that are perfect for these more industrial applications. This includes materials like traffolyte plastic, and a variety of durable metals. And for products that you can expect will be under extreme duress (i.e. battery isolation switches for heavy machinery), then you also have the option to use powder coated metals.

Laser Etching Stainless Steel On Powder Coated Products

Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at stainless steel laser etching powder coated metals, focusing on how they’re produced and what they’re typically used for. By showcasing one of our latest laser etching projects, which just so happens to be a set of sturdy battery lockout brackets made with powder coated stainless steel.

What are powder coated metals?

Powder coated metals are basically metal materials that have been treated to ensure they’re highly resistant to scratching, flaking, corrosion, and other signs of general wear and tear. Powder coating metal is a fantastic method of prolonging the life of metal materials that are used in outdoor settings or for any other applications where you can expect those materials to be exposed to harsh chemical or natural elements.

As powder coating works by applying a thin layer of epoxy or polymer to the outside of the metal material by using an electrostatic charge, basically any metal that can hold an electrostatic charge can be powder coated. This includes galvanised aluminium and steel, electroplated steel, regular untreated aluminium, and a range of steel alloys.

How are powder coated metals produced?

As we briefly mentioned, powder coated metals are produced by applying a thin polymer or epoxy protective coating to metal materials. But you can’t just spray the powder coating directly onto metal materials – they need to be washed and prepared for the powder coating process, just as you would wipe down a surface before applying a coat of paint.

Here’s the basic step-by-step process of applying stainless steel laser etching to a powder coat:

  1. Surface cleaning – cleaning the surface of stainless steel or other metals helps ensure that all impurities like oils or dirt are removed prior to the application of powder coating. This helps ensure that the powder coat can easily adhere to the stainless steel surfaces.
  2. Passivating and sandblasting – passivating involves treating the metals with corrosive chemicals to remove a thin layer off the surface material. This step is done to make sure that the face of your metals is smooth and free from superficial imperfections. Any residual imperfections are then further removed by sandblasting the metals. 
  3. Application of primer – once the metal is smooth, a primer coating is sprayed onto the metal surface using a process known as electrostatic spray deposition (or ESD) – a unique electrostatic process that helps powder coats bind to metal substrates.
  4. Application of powder coating – the powder coating is applied on top of the resin-based primer coat, again using ESD to charge powder particles so that they will be attracted to the grounded metal particles.
  5. Curing your applied coating – after the powder coat has been applied, it’s then cured. This is typically done by applying high heat (i.e. baking in a special curing oven) to set resin primer and polymer powder coats. Curing ensures that the powder coated steel will be durable and resistant to corrosion, abrasion and scratching.

The benefits of stainless steel laser etching powder coated metals

Much like traffolyte, powder coated metals can possess a high contrast finish when they’re etched. This is depending on just how thick your applied powder coat is. More often than not, however, if one of our clients comes to our laser etching studio to produce engraved signs made from coloured metals, then we’re likely to recommend etching their designs onto powder coated aluminium or stainless steel. Simply put, stainless steel laser etching through the powder coated finish provides clean, crisp detail, even on small lettering and designs, revealing the metal beneath.

Powder coated metals can also be laser etched for a wide range of applications, spanning from signage to custom parts, including automotive and motorbike parts, to electrical components. Powder coated metals can even be used to produce custom tags and laser engraved labels, alongside virtually every other application where you could feasibly work with treated steel, aluminium, or metal alloys that are compatible with the powder coating process.

And then there’s the biggest benefit of all: the improved durability of powder coated metal materials. When conducted correctly, powder coated stainless steel can maintain its finish for around 20 years, give or take a few years depending on the application of those powder coated materials (i.e. whether they’re used outdoors, underwater, in coastal regions, etc.). Extreme or prolonged UV exposure can also break down powder coatings over time. 

If your laser etched powder coated metal parts are indoors, however, you can expect these etched creations to look their best for decades to come. Both this (and the improved ability of powder coats to adhere to metal with minimal waste production) makes powder coated metals one of the most sustainable materials for laser etching and engraving.

Our powder coated stainless steel laser etching project 

Now, let’s finally have a closer look at our latest laser etching project that used powder coated steel surfaces. As we mentioned, this project saw our laser etching specialists etch legible sans serif text onto battery isolators or battery locking brackets. 

Locking brackets basically enable battery switches to be locked in their off position. This lockout feature ensures that battery controls can only be accessed by authorised personnel, drastically reducing the risks of accidental equipment startups or general unauthorised access. 

The locking brackets that we worked with were manufactured using a powder coated steel. The brackets had also been cut to precise dimensions to fit switches without the removal of the switch or connecting cables. Once fitted, these battery locking brackets would likely remain permanently in place and can only be locked in the OFF position.

As you can see, our laser etched locking brackets produced crisp and clearly legible text. These brackets will likely serve our clients for decades to come in their indoor industrial workspace.

Why work with Vector & Raster Laser for laser etching stainless steel?

With over 20 years of extensive experience providing exceptional laser etching services to both local consumers and even international businesses, our team at Vector & Raster are equipped with all the right tools of the trade and technical knowhow to provide the best possible results for your laser etching project.

From our dedicated stainless steel laser etching studio space, our team is able to produce high quality results using sustainable production processes. And all at a very reasonable cost as well.Want to learn more about what our stainless steel laser etching process can do for you? Then contact us today to inquire with us further, or fill out our online web enquiry form to receive a free, no-obligation quote for our services.

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