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Thread: Some days I hate this business.....

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Rock Hill, SC

    Some days I hate this business.....

    Had a guy call last friday with a "I need some belt buckles engraved and you are my last hope" story. I tried my best to weasel my way out of doing it but he was in a bind, so I reluctantly said ok. These are the big cowboy type with brass plates attached to them. There was no brass on the back or anything that I could test on, so it was going to work or it wasn't. I asked the client if these buckles could still be purchased, just in case things went sideways. "Yes, they can still be purchased." The sample the client showed had been engraved with a rotary engraver and paint filled and I told the him that we don't do that. He said he was alright with just marking them, so I said ok.

    I have marked brass in the past with cermark, so I wasn't too worried but since the area where it needed marking was small, it took me a while to get everything setup. I created a jig, since there were three of them, and ran an outline pass....a bunch to get it positioned just right. Cleaned it with DNA, applied the cermark tape, checked everything one last time and hit go. I immediately knew it wasn't going to work and after pulling the tape off, I confirmed that. The black was there on parts and not on others and when I hit it with a magic eraser, everything came off. The brass plates were held on with glue and the heat made them turn loose, there was some sort of clear on the brass and the laser did remove that, so you could see a ghost image of the letters if you hold it just right and when I did the final cleaning with DNA, it removed part of the clear on the silver sections.

    At this point it was trash. I set down and googled the company to order another one and to my surprise, they either aren't in business anymore or don't have a presence on the web. And to add insult to injury, these buckles were made in 1988 and only by the grace of God, I found some NOS on ebay. $50 later and a late night email to the client to let him know we couldn't complete the job, I'm back where I should have been to start but with a lighter wallet and all of that wasted time.

    What are your go to lines to weasel your way out of doing something that you know is going to come back and bite you in the a$$?
    Universal 60w VLS6.60 w/ rotary
    RayFine 30w MOPA
    Corel X8, Photoshop

    Fab shop with South Bend Heavy 10, Bridgeport 9x42, 185a welder and a multitude of supporting tools/equipment

  2. #2
    Yeah! I apparently got careless on a print merge job and had to send 4 new tags out by $25.00 Express mail. It happens.
    Mike Null

    St. Louis Laser, Inc.

    Trotec Speedy 300, 80 watt
    Woodworking shop CLTT and Laser Sublimation
    Evolis Card Printer
    CorelDraw X5

  3. #3
    I've always hated belt buckles like that, to the point I haven't done one in 30 years or so. The BACKS I'll do, but aligning the text to the arc of the ribbons, endless testing with tape and a pen tool, only to have the whole thing move in the clamp half way thru the engraving- I just tell people I don't do buckles. And I used to say NO to pens too, but the fiber has changed that, in many cases...

    And yup, Cermark no workie on clearcoated brass! But your MOPA should've marked it?

    Anyway-- what are my lines to 'weasel' out of job I don't want?

    "Sorry, but I'm afraid I don't have the necessary equipment to [engrave] [clamp] [securely hold] something like [that part] correctly; I could probably do it but chances are high of something going wrong and messing it up, so honestly, I'd rather not risk it..."

    --and this statement, when using [the appropriate wording for the situation], will be completely true and accurate, no worries about going to hell for lying
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle

  4. #4
    Had a customer contact us and want a pure gold card engraved. Can we technically do it? Sure. We could diamond drag it. The cost to replace it if it goes south? No thanks. Not worth the $50 for doing it. He told me a few days later that a guy down the street with a CNC router told him he'd do it. Good luck with that. I'm not engraving something that costs a couple grand to replace for $50. Can't wait to see the quality from a big CNC router (which we also have) engraving 6 pt fonts on a card.
    Lasers : Trotec Speedy 300 75W, Trotec Speedy 300 80W, Galvo Fiber Laser 20W
    Printers : Mimaki UJF-6042 UV Flatbed Printer , HP Designjet L26500 61" Wide Format Latex Printer, Summa S140-T 48" Vinyl Plotter
    Router : ShopBot 48" x 96" CNC Router Rotary Engravers : (2) Xenetech XOT 16 x 25 Rotary Engravers

    Real name Steve but that name was taken on the forum. Used Middle name. Call me Steve or Scott, doesn't matter.

  5. #5
    just man up and say no.
    Laser: ULS M300-50 watts, ULS X25-75 watt, Chinese 100 and 150 watt
    Software: Corel Draw, Corel PhotoPaint X8, Aspire, MasterCam, Fusion 360
    CNC: Rockler 60th Anniversary Edition CNC Shark, EZ-Route CNC
    Kingsley Hot Stamp machine
    "Out of my mind....Back in 5 minutes"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    NW Arkansas
    Blog Entries
    Belt buckles- did one Friday. Fiber, easy as it could be. Tried anneal pass (knowing it wouldn't work) and it didn't, just to try as magnet did stick to it.
    So I just did slight 'white' engraving. just throught the brass plate. He was happy with it. But yep, sometimes it just isn't worth it.
    Woodworking, Old Tools and Shooting
    Ray Fine RF-1390 Laser
    Ray Fine 20watt Fiber Laser
    PM2000, Delta BS, Delta sander, Powermatic 50 jointer,
    Powermatic100-12 planer, Rockwell 15-126 radial drill press
    Rockwell 46-450 lathe, and 2 Walker Turner RA1100 radial saws

    RIA 22TCM 1911s

  7. #7
    a little trick with the 'anneal' pass-- whatever your settings are for a no-ablate anneal, double the hatch space, increase the speed 50%, increase the power 10%, deduct 5-10 off the freq number. I get wonderful black on engravers brass doing that, looks- let's say "almost" like Cermark ... These tweaks should cause the laser to engrave, then fine tune.

    I've been doing this on knives lately, to where it just BARELY ablates. The somewhat 'holographic' effect of the anneal gives way to a more matte finish...
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle

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