View Full Version : Lasering Cell phones/tablets/MP3 players

Jeff Belany
01-05-2016, 12:55 PM
For those of you that do a lot of phones/tablets and such, I know the anodized cases work great (just did an IPOD) but I'm curious if there are any cases that don't do well with a CO2 laser (45W Helix)? The IPOD I just did was the first one brought to my shop in the 6 years I've been open. Kind of hard to believe but these days with every kid having at least one of these I thought I should see if I can pick up some business (I know, I must be pretty slow).

Obviously I'm concerned about damaging an expensive piece. Thought maybe I could get some advise on any of this type of item I should be careful about engraving. How do the ones made of various types of plastic engrave? Any brands that are either good, or more important, bad (hard) to deal with?

Any advise from those of you much smarter than me (most) would be greatly appreciated.

Jeff in northern Wisconsin

Bert Kemp
01-05-2016, 12:59 PM
Jeff do a search here on the forum. Cell Phones and Ipods cases have been discussed many time a search should answer most all your questions:)

Kev Williams
01-05-2016, 1:23 PM
I've been dealing with the risk vs. benefit issues of engraving other people's expensive stuff lately- mostly in the form of white-knuckle jobs going bad- Example- some guy had me engrave several words down the barrel of a .22 rifle for a Xmas present, it had 8 separate 'to' and 'from' names in addition to other typical text... I checked the spelling of every name at least 4 times, made sure "Christmas" was right... checked and re-checked. After I started, I stopped and checked again, couldn't find anything wrong... until I was finished...

The last 3 words were "AND [FIRSTNAME LASTNAME]"

-- guess what word I spelled wrong? ;) yeah... checked all the hard words, didn't check the easy one...

I had to re-engrave the entire barrel 3 more times to get it deep enough to pretty much hide ADN ...

He was okay with it since the error was barely visible, but-- some customers aren't so okay with it...

That's one instance. I won't get into the violin. Or horse saddles... :)

After 40 years in this business, I'm now telling people I won't engrave personal items that can't be readily or easily replaced.

--I know that doesn't answer your question, sorry!

David Somers
01-05-2016, 1:44 PM

Imagine what would have happened if you had run the inscriptions through your cell phone's spelling and grammar checker? :p


Matt McCoy
01-05-2016, 1:54 PM
Here's a trick I like.


Ross Moshinsky
01-05-2016, 2:04 PM
Here is my advice:

1. Don't engrave anything that you're not sure will engrave. For example, if someone brings you an item made of a non-standard material and a google search doesn't give you good results, turn the job down.

2. Send proofs. With the proofs, mention the risk involved.

3. Use painters tape and test placement before you run. This will save you a lot of time and aggravation.

4. Charge setup fees. I pay setup fees from almost all ASI vendors. These setup fees are for items they supply and engrave/mark/screen/print on regularly. Why shouldn't you get paid to setup something that will take you additional time compared to your regular work?

Bryan Spiegel
01-05-2016, 2:30 PM
Magpul phone cases (and magazines) do not work well with CO2 under 80w.

Thats the only part I know of.

David Somers
01-05-2016, 2:48 PM

Kidding aside. You might be able to get some old cases from a Mac store that you could play with. People bring them damaged items all the time for repair and leave them when they are unable to fix them. Mac stores are independent of Apple and could give you the cases. I doubt an Apple store would do that. Just a thought.


Mike Null
01-05-2016, 3:11 PM
With plastic, most will engrave, just use light power at first. Sometimes the engraving doesn't yield the contrast and a colorfill is necessary.

I caution customers first if it is an unknown material or I turn them down--pretty much what Ross says.

As for proofing, I do it frontwards and backwards. Not foolproof but I think it helps avoid assumptions which happen all too often in proofing.

Jeff Belany
01-06-2016, 10:24 AM
Thanks for the help.

Jeff in northern Wisconsin

Matt Geraci
01-06-2016, 10:00 PM
I do a lot of odd stuff, I got my start sandblasting so I've got capabilities to laser or sandblast - I always seem to get "weird" items that no one else will do. Knock on wood, I've only really screwed up my own stuff while experimenting on odd surfaces, shapes and materials (I experiment a lot-- practice, practice, practice...). I have made a few minor errors that I was able to cover or design around/over to make it look like it was part of the design. I specifically tell customers with odd objects or one-of-a-kind items (including electronics) that they should try and go elsewhere - if I'm the last resort I explain the risks of losing the object. If there's artwork I'll take payment for design fees up front, should I screw it up I generally tell the customer they owe me nothing for the failed attempt. Word of mouth has spread locally and through my customer base so what I'm doing is working... -- again I haven't blown it... yet...