View Full Version : Engraving on Mother of Pearl or Abalone shell

James Leonard
09-23-2010, 8:13 PM
Has anybody laser engraved on mother of pearl or abalone shell?

If so what power was needed?

I plan to buy an 18" x 24" 60 watt laser early next year.

-James Leonard

Dan Hintz
09-23-2010, 9:49 PM
It doesn't take much power to engrave... figure 100S/20P to start and work up from there.

Mike Null
09-24-2010, 6:48 AM
I suggest you plan to take your time and cut in multiple passes. The material is about as inconsistent as anything you'll find and if you try to cut in one pass you risk cracking the material due to the focused high heat.

I have had better success cutting from the back side.


Dan Hintz
09-24-2010, 7:51 AM
Oh wait, are we talking engraving or cutting?

Mike Null
09-24-2010, 9:14 AM
Could be my mistake but i've only seen cutting. Don't know what the point would be in engraving.

But a 25 watt machine could do either.

Dee Gallo
09-24-2010, 11:27 AM
I made some small charms recently, they were quite popular and nice looking. Engraved only, they came round already. These are tiny, like 1/2", used on phones and bracelet/necklace additions.

cheers, dee

Mike Null
09-24-2010, 11:56 AM

A very good example. What is the material?

Dee Gallo
09-24-2010, 12:10 PM
Cheapie mother of pearl disks from W-mart... something like $2 for small package of 30. They labeled them "shell beads". They come in this blue, white, beige/brown and black.

James Leonard
09-24-2010, 12:32 PM

Thanks for the replies. Yes, I am asking about engraving. I have several products made from mother of pearl that I want to engrave to customize them. One is guitar picks another is pearl name plates for fine woodworkers. I am importing fixed size inlay blanks for CNC cutting and I am working with the vendors on guitar picks which I have had made in the philippines before. The pearl will be natural, not dyed like Dee's example. I am also probably going to make abalone name plate blanks from brass and abalone veneers.

-James Leonard

John Noell
09-24-2010, 4:04 PM
We make a whole line of engraved pearl shell jewelry (alongside our coconut shell items). Cutting shell with a CO2 laser is not really workable. Engraving (and sometimes color-filling) works quite nicely. I generally use around 24sp/100pwr/300DPI.

James Leonard
09-24-2010, 4:59 PM
Hi John,

Thanks! That is exactly the answer I was looking for. When I cut inlay shapes for customers I use small CNC routers. I hope to use 'rub n buff' to fill the engraving but it might not be durable enough for things that get handled a lot. There is also a more traditional engraving filler made by Grit Laskin that is a possibility.

-James Leonard