View Full Version : Engraving basketball

Luann Brainard
02-15-2012, 3:57 PM
Has anyone tried to laser engrave a basketball? Now that I've had good success with baseballs, I've had a request for a basketball, but wonder if it would come out ok. Before I buy one to expiriment with, I was wondering if anyone had tried it before?
Thanks, Luann

Bill Cunningham
02-15-2012, 7:33 PM
I've done soccerballs, footballs(american) and basketballs.. There generally made from some kind of plastic/rubber and not leather. They generally etch with no colour change, the engraved area just gets smoother. you have to get the air out, and squeeze them as flat as possible. I made a wooden frame to stuff them into and position them in the laser

Amy Shelton
02-21-2012, 8:37 AM
The timing of this thread is amazing. I have two basketballs a customer dropped off last week to engrave. I searched the forum last week and couldn't find anything about engraving basketballs, checked today and Luann had asked already!

I have another question:

Do you think color filling the basketball would work? I think using a tape mask wouldn't work because of the raised dots of the basketball? I'd be afraid the paint would find a way around the tape and bleed into the unengraved areas. Also, if it did work, what type of paint would be suitable? These say they are "microfiber composite".

Glen Monaghan
02-21-2012, 11:32 AM
I've never engraved a basketball and certainly haven't tried color filling one, but wonder how well the "usual" sorts of color fill would stick if the ball were actually used in play (all the flexing and pounding).

However, with the curved surface and raised dots, this might be the perfect place to use LiquaMask or similar. You paint it over the area to engrave, let dry, engrave, and peel away the remainder. Haven't used it myself, either, but thought I'd mention it...


Bill Cunningham
02-21-2012, 8:46 PM
I never colour filled any of them, there was nothing to fill. no depth to the etch.. Not sure if there's much that would stick!

Amy Shelton
02-23-2012, 7:28 AM
Thanks for the suggestion, Glen... I have seen LiquaMask before but never tried it. It might be handy to have around the shop for odd things that come up.

Bill, that's what I was wondering, what kind of paint would stick. I'll see if we have a ball around here I can practice on.

These are more like trophy balls, won't be played with in a game. These balls say they are microfiber composite.

Amy Shelton
03-05-2012, 10:18 AM
I thought I would share my experiences with these 2 basketballs. I have been agonizing over it for a few weeks. Forgive me for being long winded, but hopefully it will help someone.

First, a paper tape mask allowed spray paint to bleed beyond it.

I tried Glen's suggestion and ordered LiquaMask. I had to put it on very thick, otherwise it wouldn't peel off. It engraved well, but when I pulled off the mask, the upper layer of the basketball came off with it! Yikes! Glad that was our own ball I practiced with. (Husband wasn't happy, he said that was a "good" ball, but I thought it looked dirty and how was I supposed to know? He forgave me)

When I first engraved thru the LiquaMask, I used a way powerful setting that went thru the mask and half way thru the ball, achieving a nice black color. It was going down thru the orange layer, and I guess our particular ball has a black layer under it. But a very deep engraving was too big a chance to take on a ball that may be made differently than ours. I used a black spray paint/primer all-in-one before I ripped off the mask, and it stuck ok, but not great. It didn't bleed, but hey, maybe it did, and I yanked it off with the LiquaMask!

Engraving without a mask, on our ball, looked like Bill's football he posted here. So I knew I'd have to come up with a way to color fill. The customer wanted it to be very readable.

I finally decided to just engrave the ball, and hand paint it, using the engraving as a guide. On our ball, I tried Black Acrylic paint, gold leaf, Gold Acrylic paint, and black car touch-up paint, thinned with a little paint thinner. The Gold Acrylic looked the best, and survived my fingernail scratch test better than the others.

So I put a customer's basketball in the laser, held my breath, said a prayer, and started engraving. It turned black!!! woohoo! No need to color fill at all! Their ball was marked "Microfiber Composite" by Wilson. Our ball is "Performance Composite" also by Wilson. 50 power, 100 speed.

I attached a very close-up pic of the customer's ball. I'd rather not post the whole ball, since it has a name on it.


Kevin Sudaria
07-22-2018, 6:39 PM
Amy Shelton, any updates? have you found a better way to do this?

John Lifer
07-23-2018, 8:40 AM
Really old thread Kevin...... From what I've seen elsewhere, just engraving the ball is sufficient. Nowhere else have I noticed anyone trying to colorfill. I would expect it would be very difficult with the various textures of the ball.

Kevin Sudaria
08-08-2018, 2:07 PM
I know, sorry for the grave digging.

I have a couple basketball balls that I'd like to engrave. Just trying to get a good idea on settings. These are $60 balls so I don't want to mess up. I know Amy posted 50 power, 100 speed but at what wattage?

Bert Kemp
08-10-2018, 10:54 PM
her sig says 50 watt