Color Fill for engraved aluminum?

I’m using my X-Carve for engraving logos and designs into aluminum and am having trouble finding a good medium for filling the engraved work with a color fill material. Tried painting and then sanding down the overspray from the surface, but sanding it ends up getting in the grooves too much and removing or dulling the fills, too. Also tried screen ink, same issue. Scraping the excess off with a plastic or rubber trowel doesn’t get all of it, and a metal scraper damages the surface, which I can fix with steel wool or sanding, but that leads back to problem #1. I’ve also tried masking off the whole surface before engraving, hoping to paint in after and just remove the masking, but it tears out too much in the cutting process, plus the surface needs smoothed down after engraving anyway (leaves a rough, raised edge around the recess).

Any suggestions? I’ve seen stuff like this done, just not sure what process or material is used for best, fastest, simplest results. I’d prefer to do this as opposed to silk screening for durability and appearance, but at the moment, it’s way more time consuming and not cost effective.

Can you post a picture?

I’ve heard of “enameling” the aluminum by putting a powder coat material in the low spots of the engraving, and then baking it into place. Regular enameling with glass powder won’t work as the aluminum would melt. It might work with brass or some other soft metal.

A low temperature enamel should work. Works fine with copper and brass so could work depending how thick the material is. Pour small amount of the powder into the gaps and brush any overspill into the slots. Any excess can be wiped off with a damp cloth. Then heat it up to a couple of hundred degrees, job done. Borderline in aluminium but can work. E.g. http://www.cooksongold.com/Enamelling/Efcolor-Enamel-Set-Pack-of-10----10ml-prcode-861-000

Failing that and depending how wide the design is, you could use a pourable polyester resin with colouring dyes/metal powders and a wax additive for a shiny top surface. E.g. http://www.easycomposites.co.uk/products/casting-resin/water-clear-polyester-casting-resin.aspx

Cheers

Ian

That EF color stuff looks great. I might try that myself.

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Here’s an example of one of my engraved amplifier faceplates. Very fine detail, as you can see.

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That’s really fine marking. I would do a trial piece and try with spray paint then sanding off carefully with wet emery paper on a flat block.

Failing that, wash over with an ink, again sand off then seal.

There are paints available for use in masking aluminum prior to anodizing.
I should think you could coat the face, carve the details, then anodize the part. The color would go into the carved areas and then the top face could be lightly brushed to remove the masking.

OR

There’s also a polyester tape you could put on the surface prior to carving; if it cuts cleanly enough, the same trick would work. http://astro.neutral.org/anodise-masking-polyester.shtml

Bryce - did you figure this out? I have a similar project and am using oil based paint for metal, filling the grooves, waiting 15 minutes and then squeegee off the top with a business card. It’s works great but wondered if you had a better method.

I interested in this topic what did everyone find out?

We are trying to carve in .063 aluminum and not having much luck. Can you tell me what bit you used and the speed and everything? Thats the look we are going for. Thanks

Here is my first metal cut. Filled with a fingernail polish. Polish remover or sanding to clean up. Probably too sloppy For your detail. Posted for refranence. 1 inch wide brass bar.

I’ve done fake “enameling” on metal using catalyzing auto paints from PPG. You can use thinner to clean off any over-paint before it kicks off.

Used to work at a shop that did this on pewter and brass. I believe they used a colored epoxy fill. I’m still in contact with one of the guys who did that part… I’ll try to find out how they did it.

I’ve done it successfully with aluminum and copper. Make sure you degrease your metal well.

You can kick off the paint/epoxy very quickly with a little heat to the back of the metal. I used a heat gun.

*edit, just warm. it will bubble if too hot. The heat will also degas any air in the mix.

It would be great to see the results. What paint did you use?

Hey there -

It came out great. I used those little bottles of acrylic sold at hardware stores mixed with art resin. 1 to 20 ratio was enough. It dried shiny, but I had to sand and polish the brass so, I then had to buff the resin, then I used rubbing compound and then car wax. It is not mirror shiny, but pretty good.

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Yeah it looks fantastic. Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.

I’ve color filled AR lowers with nail polish many times with excellent results.

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