View Full Version : Outdoor Plaque

Chris Achtschin
03-13-2011, 10:09 AM
Hi from Western NY, this is my first post.
I have a customer that wants memorial plaque or plate on a gazibo entrance door.
I was thinking lasering and cutting to size an anodized aluminum plate but I'm unsure whether anodized aluminum would stand up to the outdoor elements. I have sheets of from Laserbits to use.
I was also thinking of MetalGraph Plus, is this material really metal or just a metal looking acrylic?
I could always do a sandblasted piece of Granite but wanted to keep the price down for the customer.
Plate would be around 8 x 10 in dimension.
Any suggestions or thoughts will be appreciated.
You have a great forum here! I hope I can contribute in the future.

Michael Hunter
03-13-2011, 10:19 AM
Anodised aluminium should be OK outside. It should not corrode*, but the engraved parts may pick up dirt and algae in damp conditions and be difficult to clean.

Metalgraph is just metal coloured acrylic. I looks pretty good and has an extra layer of protective lacquer to stop scratches and this makes it very easy to keep clean.

* Careful with the fixings! Monel metal screws are best (get from a boat chandlers), followed by stainless steel. Zinc plated steel will mess it up in a year or so and brass within months.

Larry Bratton
03-13-2011, 11:01 AM
Welcome to the Creek! You have come to the right place for information and a great group of people helping each other.
Michael is right with his advice but why not engrave a piece of granite. Granite will last forever outside. You could mount it with some 3m UHB (Ultra High Bond) tape, which will also work outside. Check at Lasersketch for some small plaques.

AL Ursich
03-13-2011, 11:10 AM
Another option is Corian V Carved and Color Filled with colored Corian Glue and sanded flush.


Chris Achtschin
03-13-2011, 2:58 PM
Thanks very much for the help and suggestions.
I think I'm leaning toward the Granite and I like the idea of the Corian.
Why would you sand the corian down flush, wouldnt you want some depth to the letters?
Will Krylon work as a filler too?

Larry Bratton
03-13-2011, 4:49 PM
The adhesive is used as a fill. You would have to fill the engraving and then sand it back down to the surface to make the letters flush. You can use Krylon, but it might not last the same as the Corian adhesive. Using Krylon paint as a fill, I would mask the Corian with transfer tape, raster engrave it, paint it with the Krylon and finish the job by sanding the whole thing to eliminate any over spray if you were to have any. When you engrave the Corian, you will not be able to see the engraving without filling it as the color of the material goes all the way through it. (that's why it is referred to as "solid surface")

Note that Al is talking about V carving -that will take CNC router capability

Tim Baude
03-13-2011, 6:00 PM
I would lean toward the corian. I did an outside plaque last year and that is what I used. Engraved, sprayed krylon paint and sanded. Looked great and the customer loved it. Just my two cents on the subject.

Randy Uveges
03-14-2011, 12:47 PM
Hello Chris. When it comes to laser markable aluminum the main issue has to do with the type of black color used in the anodizing. For the most part the color is a dye that tints the material as it is being anodized. Since the dye is organic, you will some loss of color over time depending on the amount of exposure. This can be a quite dramatic change in direct sunlight. The key is to use aluminum with an inorganic black pigment. There are two products available with extensive outdoor performance. AlumaMark BlackPLUS for YAG lasers and DuraBlack for CO2 lasers available from Horizons Inc. In Cleveland Ohio. Hope that helps.

Mike Null
03-14-2011, 1:50 PM

Welcome to SMC.. What is the source of your information regarding Alumamark? Heretofore Alumamark has not been a good outdoor material and they so specify. Their web site does not give any information about the items you've mentioned though it does show the new colors they recently introduced.

Dan Hintz
03-14-2011, 2:27 PM
When it comes to laser markable aluminum the main issue has to do with the type of black color used in the anodizing. For the most part the color is a dye that tints the material as it is being anodized. Since the dye is organic, you will some loss of color over time depending on the amount of exposure.
Your experience may differ, but I know of very few shops (any?) that use an organic black dye. There are a good number of suppliers of inorganic black dyes, so why futz with the organic ones? We're not talking about Ritz dye done by someone in their backyard.

Randy Uveges
03-14-2011, 3:18 PM
Thanks Mike. I used to be the product manager for AlumaMark at Horizons and now I manage the Department of Defense market for unique identification at Camcode. This means I know all the materials and processes used to create data matrix bar codes in the market. The original AlumaMark was kind of a clay color and while the marked was inorganic it was brittle and so temperature changes caused degradation. A clear coat sloved that problem quite nicely and it can be used for quite a while outside. However that is an extra step. The DuraBlack product I mentioned for CO2 lasers was just introduced at the UID Forum in Orlando March 2nd and is the only CO2 markable product I know of with a 10+year outdoor life. Does that help?

Randy Uveges
03-14-2011, 3:22 PM
Thanks, I was referring to pre-colored sheets of aluminum such as commercially black anodized material. The laser ablates away the top black anodized layer to create silver (aluminum) colored graphics. Are you referring to a dye used to fill lased areas?

AL Ursich
03-14-2011, 3:31 PM
Yes, I was thinking V Carving with a CNC.... But Laser would work....

I saw a Great Corian plaque at a roadside memorial that was V Carved and spray painted. It was mounted at a almost flat angle. Water and dirt had collected in the V Carving. That is why I mentioned V Carving and Corian Colored Glue Color Fill and sanded flush. Nothing will sit in the lettering.


John Noell
03-14-2011, 3:41 PM
Another note on MetalGraph+, it is VERY delicate and scrubbing the surface will remove the top (color) layer. I had to re-do an outdoor sign and put a clear acrylic (perspx here) layer on top to protect it.

Terry Swift
03-22-2011, 5:50 PM
Has anyone tried putting a color type photograph on sheet aluminum, as I know Horizons carries a whole line of those type products. A customer had found a "supposed" shop in Florida that coulda / woulda do it; but after about a month of non-dleivery

Larry Bratton
03-22-2011, 7:34 PM
It can be done with sublimation. They have a coated aluminum for it. I would be careful putting it outside though, it's like anything else colored, the UV of the sun will eventually cause it to fade.

Belinda Williamson
03-23-2011, 6:46 AM
One more vote for Corian.

Jeff Belany
03-24-2011, 11:12 AM
I know people have said that the corian glue makes a great fill. My question is -- how does it work on a photo lasered into corian? Not sure how thick the glue is. Does it work into the detail of a photo? What DPI would anyone suggest for a photo on corian?


Jeff in northern Wisconsin

Larry Bratton
03-24-2011, 1:31 PM
Jeff, that would not be the way to fill a photo. I fill photos on Corian with Krylon paint. The adhesive fill would be for filling deeply routed text or the like that has been done with a CNC router. Just process your photo as normal at 300dpi.

Jeff Belany
03-24-2011, 2:52 PM
Thanks Larry, I kind of thought that might be the case but since I have not used the adhesive as a fill I thought I should ask. The customer wants to use white Marble but I'm going to see if they will consider corian. I think I can pick up a sink cut out that would work.

Jeff in northern Wisconsin

Larry Bratton
03-24-2011, 3:09 PM
He should consider Corian because marble is not a good choice to use outside. Corian should hold up for 50 years or so they say.

mike klein
05-22-2011, 11:55 PM
I have been using the Alumamark DuraBlack with excellent results in outdoor use.