Customised stainless steel guitar scratch plate

customised stainless steel guitar scratch plate

Our laser can engrave some types of metal, but isn’t powerful enough to laser cut it. Here’s an example of metal marking.

Alex McDonald wanted to have the stainless steel scratch guard of his electric guitar engraved to customise it. Signatures of a band he met on holiday in Germany feature in the design. Engraving his guitar was a way for him to customise his guitar to remind him of those happy memories.

Making a mark

The only way we can etch stainless steel is to use a special metal marking paste. Thermark is a mixture of pigment and glass particles. It is spread evenly onto metal, and when dry, it can be laser engraved by the raster (fill in) or vector (line engrave) methods.

When the laser beam hits the paste, it melts the glass and traps the pigment onto the metal, forming enamel on the metal surface. This mark is extremely durable and is suitable for outdoor use, so we’ve usually used it to engrave industrial instrument panels and offshore tools. It gives a lovely matt finish which is also ideal for decorative work, and gives excellent contrast to a metallic background, which is exactly what Alex wanted for visual impact at gigs.

Quality artwork in, quality engraving out

It was very important to have clean artwork as laser engraving metal is a very unforgiving material. If artwork shows unwanted pixellation, it shows in the engraving, so we need print quality graphics of 300dpi. It’s also important for artwork to be black and white so that the laser knows exactly what to engrave.

Alex removed the plate from his guitar, so we didn’t have to fit the whole guitar into the laser. They’re quite an awkward shape! We applied the paste and raster engraved the artwork onto the scratch plate.

Alex was delighted with the results, and the black enamel mark complemented his black guitar perfectly.