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Pete Andrew
10-07-2006, 9:06 AM
Has anyone used a laser to etch designs onto Zippo lighters?

http://www.zippoppd.com/prodClass/prodClass_lightersPVD.aspx?prodId=150 (http://www.zippoppd.com/prodClass/prodClass_lightersPVD.aspx?prodId=150)

seems to indicate that the Black Ice finish may be suitable, but of course what they don't mention is that it could be they use a YAG laser. Has anyone used a CO2 machine on this finish with success? Or will I need the Cermark paste or equivalent? I have just received a sample from Zippo uk (I'm this side of the pond!) of the Black Ice finish, which to my eyes looks pretty close to a chrome finish really. Certainly it seems to be very reflective, and being a cautious type, I am hesitating before I stick it into my machine and zap it.....

What would happen to my machine if it it was "too shiny" anyway? What could I expect in the way of fireworks?

Any tips as always would be appreciated!

Pete Andrew (in the UK)

Jim A. Walters
10-07-2006, 11:20 AM
I have seen anodized aluminum Zippos for engraving. Chewbarka on eBay used to have them, but they are not in his store anymore. He is a great source for stamped anodized aluminum shapes and dog tags.

Jim

Mike Null
10-07-2006, 1:21 PM
Judging from the picture and size of the engraving I believe that it has been co2 engraved.

It's an important point so I think any Zippo dist. could tell you.

EDIT:
After some internet homework I am not sure. It says the finish is black chrome. also my distributor doesn't carry the lighter.

Dave Jones
10-07-2006, 1:57 PM
You might try contacting Mike at:
Cards Plus
Phone 800 231-9454
Fax 718 966-4250
E-Mail CardsPlus01@aol.com

He is a Zippo distributor and has a lot of info regarding the different types, and which type of engraving works for each.

Joe Pelonio
10-08-2006, 12:59 PM
I've done the plain metal ones with cermark, but they had a clearcoat so I had to engrave, then apply the cermark without moving, and re-engrave.

Pete Andrew
10-08-2006, 1:00 PM
Thanks guys - I will send an email off to Mike and post here what the reply is.

What are the dangers of using my laser on reflective materials? There is the sticker on the front telling me not to do it, but what would happen if I did? I know someone who lasered the front glass of a mirror and etched patterns on it without any ill effects. I assume that the laser beam is unable to reflect back for very long before the glass gets crazed and diffuses the reflective properties of the mirror. What other seemingly reflective (and therefore "no way") materials have any of you lasered successfully? And what hasn't worked and what happened (fires started? Tube overheating? What else?).

Joe Pelonio
10-08-2006, 3:00 PM
This is a controversial subject, but I (and a few others) have engraved marks on the inside of our glass laser doors from trying to engrave the front of a mirror. Also, I was told by Epilog Technical support that all mirror, glass or acrylic, has to be engraved or cut from the back or will damage the machine.

I have used cermark on stainless steel that was mirror-like without a problem.

Frank Corker
10-09-2006, 8:09 PM
Just get a large piece of plain writing paper, soak it in water and place it over the front of the mirror, it softens the engraving and seems to keep the glass cooled (without cracking it) when the engraving is being done.

Pete Andrew
10-10-2006, 6:26 AM
Thanks guys - yes I had appreciated that using Cermark might prove to be a 2 step process with all the registration issues during the painting process. I am also concerned of the possibility of un-uniform coat thickness leading to patchy results, has this ever been an issue? I've not used Cermark yet.

And thanks Frank for the mirror tip - any useful hints on Zippos? If I have this right, I think you are the first other UK voice I've heard here. Good Morning to you from this time zone!

I am onto the UK distributor with these questions, but first attempts have met with polite non-committal and a free lighter to try out on.... but a 12 lighter doesn't really stack up to a 12k piece of laser kit in the grand scheme of things, so I am pressing them for more info! If anything positive comes from it I will let you all know.

Jason Lippert
10-10-2006, 5:31 PM
Here's a pic of a zippo I did for my own use, with two of my favorite bands on it. This is just a black matte finish zippo. Lasered at 600 dpi 60 speed 80 power on a Legend EXT 75 watt. I burn that hot just to be sure to all the material off the brass. It would be too hard to get those fine lines cleaned out. I've used it for 4 months and still no noticable tarnish.

Joe Pelonio
10-10-2006, 6:01 PM
I am also concerned of the possibility of un-uniform coat thickness leading to patchy results, has this ever been an issue? I've not used Cermark yet.


Pete, that is an issue. For one line of text you can use the applicator in the bottle or small (artists) paint brush, after thinning with denatured alcohol, and it usually won't make a visible difference. With something larger, with solid areas it's best to use the spray version or airbrush it on for even coverage.

Pete Andrew
10-11-2006, 6:09 AM
Thank you guys - Jason's Zippo looks pretty impressive. Good to hear there isn't any tarnish - what about flaking around the edges of the engraved area? It looks like you had to go pretty deep from the photo.

And thanks for confirming my suspicions about the paste Joe - I am angling towards only using the Zippo finishes that are do-able without pre-treatment. But to date Zippo UK have dragged their feet about helping out here; when asked what finishes are CO2 laserable they have said that Zippo laser engraves all their finishes, and Zippo will not guarantee my engraving of any finishes to their lighters...... I could be in for a long haul - wish me luck!

Mike Null
10-11-2006, 3:27 PM
I called Zippo in Bradford, PA today. Their engraving dept. says Black Ice can be lasered with CO2 and YAG. They say YAG looks better.

Tim Stamplis
05-31-2007, 3:26 AM
I've got some black ice Zippos I'm "playing" with. I have a 30w versa laser and I'm having a lot of trouble with consistancy. They really look sharp when you get a nice even black engraving, but that is the trick! I get uneven hits, like the middle of a word doesn't come out, only the ends. Anyone been doing these since this thread last posted and having any success? I've tried using a mask thinking it was the reflective nature of the lighter and did get better success, but not good enough yet unfortunately. Perhaps I'll try to get some answers from Zippo themselves. It's not a metal product, its a plastic of some sort. I don't think cermark would work. Anyone tried?

Keith Outten
10-09-2007, 6:04 AM
Below is a very fancy design in Corel Draw for engraving Zippo Lighters.

Frank Corker
10-09-2007, 7:15 PM
Sorry for no reply Andrew, I have to be honest, never tried a Zippo but I think it's because it's a bit of trapped market. There are a few out there who are doing plenty of them, but it's a dying market I fear. Smoking is fast becoming a huge stigma (yes I have felt the force head on) and that's why I've never pursued the idea. So not much help, although I know someone else who said they too were having a few problems when dealing with Zippo and their 'keeping things close to their chest' attitudes.

Jeff Lehman
10-10-2007, 1:15 PM
Anyone know of a source for blank Black Ice zippos?