Home » Laser Engraving Help »Lasers »Sidebar » Currently Reading:

Thermark (Cermark) (Cerdec) Metal Marking Spray

December 8, 2009 Laser Engraving Help, Lasers, Sidebar No Comments

Cermark / Thermark Metal Marking Spray

The TherMark process utilizes marking materials, or “inks,” available in various forms, which are applied to surfaces to be marked. The ink is then selectively fused – using patented laser marking technology – to the surface with a regular industrial marking laser. Finally, any excess ink is easily cleaned from the surface. The inks are scientifically formulated to make a permanent, chemical bond to surfaces, without compromising or damaging the material being marked.

TherMark marking materials are available as paintable liquids, aerosols or adhesive transfer tapes. The paintable liquid may be applied to surfaces with a brush, sponge or air sprayer. After fusing with the laser, any excess paintable liquid or aerosol spray can be cleaned from the surface by simply rinsing with water. Tapes are applied to surfaces using their own light adhesives. After fusing with the laser, the tape is lifted from the surface, carrying away any excess marking material. The used tape is then discarded.

Regardless of the application, the end result is a durable, high-contrast and high-resolution mark. (as appears from the Thermark web site)

LASER MARKING PRODUCT

LMM-6000 Metal Marking Material

1.0 Product description

LMM-6000 is a laser marking material for metals. LMM-6000 is ethanol based, which allows for a fast drying time. It can be used on a variety of bare metal substrates including stainless steel, brass, aluminum, titanium, tin, nickel, and many more. LMM-6000 will not work on metals with a lacquered coating.

2.0 Product characteristics

Table 1

Table 1

Table 2

Table 2

2.6 Application Notes

For optimum mark quality, a thin even covering of LMM-6000 should be used. If the material is applied too thin, the marks won’t be as dark. If the material is applied too thick, more power will be required to make the make. Applying LMM-6000 may require a little practice to get the right coverage. It is also important to allow the coating to dry thoroughly.

LMM-600 is formulated to be thick to prevent settling. It may be necessary to thin the paste before using. Application method will determine the amount of thinner required, along with room temperature and humidity. The ratios recommended above should be sufficient. Keep in mind that the more the material is thinned, the less active ingredients are being applied. Over thinning will result in a lighter mark than properly thinned and applied LMM-6000.

2.7 Marking Notes

Marking may require some trial and error to optimize your laser with a particular substrate. Keep in mind that all lasers react differently depending on the substrate. Also, if you are working on a “softer” metal substrate such as aluminum or brass, more power and/or slower speed may be needed. Again, you may need to run several tests to optimize the setting for your laser.

Marking may possibly be done using diode pumped, fiber and other similar types of lasers.

3.0 Product Preparation

Insure that the product has been well mixed prior to use. Some settling may occur during long storage. Paste temperature should be equivalent to your printing room temperature prior to measuring viscosity or application.

4.0 Viscosity Test Method

dmc² product viscosity is measured by a Brookfield™ RVT DVIII Rheometer using a #27 spindle at 100 RPM, 24.0 ºC.

5.0 Storage Recommendations

Product must be stored in cool and dry conditions. The storage temperatures should not be below 5ºC and not exceed 35ºC. Settling could occur if stored for long periods of time. Before use, products must be stirred thoroughly. Partly used containers must be tightly sealed after use. If stored as recommended, a minimum shelf life of six months after the production date is guaranteed.

Applying Cermark

LMM-6000 is our laser marking material for metals. LMM-6000 is ethanol based which allows for a faster drying time. It can be used on a variety of bare metal substrates including stainless steel, brass, aluminum, titanium, tin, copper, nickel and many more. If the metal has a lacquered coating, the LMM-6000 marking material will not work.

Using LMM-6000: LMM-6000 is ready to use in aerosol can form. Shake can well before using. Allow the agitator ball to rattle for at least 2 minutes. For best results, use when can is between 70 and 90 degrees F.

Applying: Clean the surface of the metal so it is free of any type of lubricants or oils. Hold the can approximately 8-12 inches from substrate to be sprayed. Depress valve fully during spray. Apply a thin coat of LMM-6000 to the metal, try to apply an even covering. Try to cover the area to be marked with a light spray, using two passes. If the material is applied too thick, it will require more power to make the mark. It is important that LMM-6000 is applied with an even and thin coat. Applying LMM-6000 may require a little practice to get the right coverage. After use, the can nozzle should be cleaned by inverting the can and spraying until mist becomes clear. Any excess material on the nozzle should be cleaned off with water.

Drying: It is important that the LMM-6000 is allowed to dry thoroughly. It can air dry in about 2 minutes. This process can be sped up by using a drying oven, hair dryer or a heat
lamp.

Marking On Stainless Steel: This step may require some trial and error to optimize your laser with a particular substrate. Keep in mind that all lasers react differently depending on the substrate, the type of laser, the lasers’ power, dot size and other factors :

Table 3

Table 3

If you are using a YAG laser, you will need to use about 20-25 Watts and a writing speed between 10-20 inches/second. Again, you may need to run several tests to optimize the settings for your particular laser.

Marking On Aluminum & Brass: Softer Metals require more power or slower speeds to obtain a permanent mark. We recommend at least a 50 Watt C02 lasers for such metals.

Table 4

Table 4

Clean up: Wash with water or a wet towel. After use, the can should be removed from the jar. The nozzle should be cleaned in water along with the intake pipe. When you are done clean the internal system by inverting the can and spraying until mist becomes clear.

NOTE: MAKE SURE THAT THE PLASTIC HOSE IS POINTED AWAY FROM YOU.

Any excess material on the nozzle should be cleaned off with water. The nozzle can be removed and soaked in warm water if spraying difficulty is encountered.

Working with Cermark on Steel

One of the hardest things to engrave for any engraver is Stainless steel. Typically to engrave stainless required a thorough knowledge of cutters, feed rates, lubricants and a host of other extras. Also engraving stainless required a lot of time and doing any fine text was at best difficult. This all added up to having to charge your customer a lot for the job.

One of the big problems with C02 lasers is that when it comes to bright metals they tend to not be able to leave a mark. To help C02 lasers engrave steel a product called Cermark was introduced to allow these C02 lasers to mark steel.

How does it work? Basically all you need to do is to make sure that your steel is clean. Next spray your product with the Cermark spray, laser the product and than clean off the excess spray.

What you are left with is a mark that is permanently affixed to the steel. You need to grind the mark to remove it.

Does it work on other metals? Some people have been successful marking other metals with the Cermark. However the mark is not as good as that on steel and in some cases will come off easy.

Do not mark coated metals. Any metals that have a plated coated such as award medallions or lacquered coatings such as pewter mugs are not to be Cermarked. Basically what happens is that if there is a coating on the metal the Cermark can not bond to the metal. Although it looks good when the spray is removed it is easily rubbed off.

How to Apply Cermark

Applying the Cermark coating is easy. Let me outline the steps to you.

First make sure the steel surface is completely clean. Use alcohol to make sure that the metal has no oil or other contaminants on it.
For most of those starting out I would suggest that you purchase a premixed bottle of Cermark along with an aerosol spray can.
Attach the spray can to the bottle.
Next lay the steel out and spray it as flat as possible. Make sure that the coating is laid on as light and evenly as possible. For those who can get one it is better to use a fine spray gun such as a hobby paint sprayer – See Figure 1 which shows the aerosol container.
NOTE USE A VENTALATOR MASK WHEN SPRAYING.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Figure 2 shows the finished metal sprayed. Note: if you find that the spray starts to crack than you need to go back and clean the steel.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Next you must allow the coating to dry. This takes around 10 to 15 minutes.
Next place your steel plate into the laser.
Your settings for the laser will depend on the speed and the power of your laser. For example on a 35 watt machine my speed is 20 percent and my power is 100. This tends to create a proper mark. Typically an image that does not have enough power tends to have the mark rub off. If you over burn the image the image tends to go gray.

Figure 3 shows the image burned into the plate with the coating still on the metal

Figure 3

Figure 3

Next take your plate and wash it off under water.

Figure 4 shows the finished image.

Figure 4

Figure 4

Figure 5 shows an image that was done by a couple of years ago. You will notice that I have tried to scratch off the image in the red box using a screw driver. Notice how good the text quality is.

Figure 5

Figure 5

Figure 6 shows the Cermark on a steel mug.

Figure 6

Figure 6

Using Cermark has made engraving Steel quite easy. Not only can you get fine detail alone with a make that is almost indestructible but you can engrave the steel quick and with little effort. But one word of advice make sure that you do not cheat yourself out of not charging enough.

Comment on this Article: