Stainless steel engraving is becoming an increasingly popular method for personal or business applications. Stainless steel is straightforward to clean, relatively inexpensive and has a wide variety of applications. Stainless steel is also known as ‘hammock’ stainless because it is so lightweight. Stainless steel is also popular because of the ease and durability of polishing. While simple to keep clean, there are some best practices to remember when using this type of equipment.
It is essential to understand that any type of stainless steel engraving must be thoroughly cleaned regularly. The use of abrasives such as sandpaper or wheel cleaning brushes should be avoided, as these can scratch or damage the machine. To clean the switch plate, remove the plate from the engraver, and pre-heat the container in a pan with about twice as much oil as the type of engraving you are performing.
For high quality engraved stainless steel engraving, a high-quality paint/resin combination is typically recommended. Abrasives are generally applied in single passes, with each abrasive deposited at a slightly different depth. When using the paint/resin, it is crucial to have a clean work surface. This includes all surfaces, including the work area itself. Once dry, the plate is prepped for multiple passes of the abrasive. After the final pass of the abrasive, allow the plate to cure completely before re-applying the paint.
There are several methods for refurbishing a piece of stainless steel engraving. Typically, the first polisher is one that is recommended by the manufacturer of the tool. This is used to bring back the luster and shine that is lost with repeated use of the cutting tool. Once the plate has been restored to its former beauty, it is necessary to re-plate using a fresh polisher of some type.
This is another method used for deep engraving, where a small stream of water is used to vibrate the spindle tools and create a whirling action that creates a pattern on the stainless steel surface. The water is used to remove any burrs, lumps, or other voids present in the metal. Water jetting device is used to increase the pattern’s depth, sometimes stopping at a depth of one millimeter or so. This process is used for engraving deep metal, such as rivets, where multiple passes must be made over the same area. If this process is attempted without using a water jetting tool, the patterns could be too thin.
Laser etching uses light-emitting dyes to mark welded or drilled materials. Light is emitted from the dye until the mark is removed. This process is most commonly used to keep stainless steel engraving or other metals resistant to abrasive treatments. Laser etching makes the creation of intricate patterns easy but may take a long time to create.