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Stainless Steel

There are other companies who advertise they etch stainless steel. Many also etch other metals such as brass, bronze, zinc, copper, and aluminum. Companies have been etching zinc for years and years. The resolution is good, but you must keep in mind the techniques used. If they do true etching, they usually rub the etched surface with a colorant to produce the contrast.

Another technique is the use of a product called CerMark™, manufactured by Ferro Corporation. CerMark™ is a marking medium used on metals. We experimented with it. It's a very good product and produces a permanent, UV stable mark. The mark is black and is produced by a laser. Here's the downside. The laser could not produce the detail we wanted using the CerMark™ coating. We even sent a photo sample we had been using to Ferro Corporation to see if they could get the detail we needed. We never received any samples. CerMark™ is an excellent product. It's just not suitable for this high resolution application.

Let's take stainless as an example. I visited one company (Web site) that does engraved bronze, but they also advertise etched metal. One example shows an etched zinc plaque, and they say it looks similar to the stainless steel. To get contrast they say the etching is color filled with black. That's because the zinc and stainless are silver in color. You must check out the image resolution a company can produce if they're using a colorant as a contrast medium. We do not use that technique.

Eventually, what's going to happen to that black coloring? Black colorants should be UV stable, but that does not make them immune to microbial attack and surface lifting. If they use colors other than black, fading becomes an issue as well. The plaques could be coated with a clear lacquer, urethane, or some other protective coating, but that will eventually break down (10-20 years). I discuss options on our Coatings page. Once the black goes away you'll have a difficult time seeing the image. Who's going to upkeep your tribute every twenty years for 1,000 years. A synthetic diamond coating like we use cannot be applied to a metal having an organic color filler.

So if you want a high resolution tribute that's going to be around for thousands of years - and doesn't require constant maintenance - we're the ones to contact!

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