5 Steps to Do Glass Etching with xTool D1 Laser Engraver

Imagine yourself drinking in an engraved drinking glass, having a customized design of your choice, and enjoying your leisure time alone or along with friends.

etched drinking glass

Wouldn’t it be nice to have such customized glasses at your home to make the time more enjoyable?

You would definitely love to have a few customized etched glasses. It is an excellent idea to build up a collection of etched glasses. You can not only make your own collection but can make them for others and turn this etching of glasses into a business.

Etching/engraving of glass, whether drinking/wine glass or plain glass sheet, is also needed for various purposes, similar to other types of materials. You might need to make customized drinking glasses, plaques, honorary shields, and a lot of other things.

If you have a laser engraving machine, it is beneficial to understand how to etch glass. It will help you create an excellent business or make customized pieces for yourself.

In this article, we will teach you how you can etch a drinking glass. You can follow the same method on any type of glass or just a plain glass sheet. We will be using xTool D1, which is a diode laser machine for etching.

Let’s start the discussion without further delay.

Can Diode Laser Etch/Engrave Glass?

The short answer is YES, but with some necessary tools used.

We have seen CO2 lasers engraving and etching glass, and it is pretty easy to do with it. But when it comes to diode laser machines, the first question arises whether a diode laser can etch glass or not.

In simple words, a diode laser is not powerful enough to etch glass alone. If you put a glass under a diode laser machine for engraving, you won’t see the results you need because it cannot generate the heat needed to engrave the glass.

But if you apply tempera paint or a cold galvanizing compound on the surface, it is possible to etch the glass using a diode laser machine. The paint or compound sticks to the surface of the glass; there is no space left for the heat to escape.

Due to this, when the laser beams are applied, heat is created and trapped. It increases temperature rapidly, and finally, the required temperature to etch glass is reached.

We will be using xTool D1 in this guide to etch the glass. It is also a diode laser machine, and it can engrave a glass with the help of tempera paint or a cold galvanizing compound.

Things You Need for Glass Etching with xTool D1

Obviously, we need a diode laser machine, and in our case, we are using xTool D1 10 Watt version. Other than that, we need a few other things.

1) Tempera Paint or Cold Galvanizing Compound

We have already discussed the importance of these two things. You can buy any tempera paint, but it is better to have a spray paint gun to uniformly coat the surface.

cold galvanize for glass etching

You can also use a foam brush, but the coat will not be as uniform as you want. However, it can still do the job, and you can go for it. But make sure to make the coating as uniform as possible; there shouldn’t be any area left uncovered.

The cold galvanizing compound is available in spray bottles, and it is better for those who do not have a spray gun. It can be applied evenly and offer excellent results.

2) Lacquer Thinner

Lacquer thinner is needed to remove the paint or cold galvanizing compound after etching. Once you apply a little bit of thinner over the surface of the glass, the paint or flakes start to come out. Without applying pressure on the glass, the paint or compound is removed with perfection.

3) Denatured Alcohol

Before applying paint and cold galvanizing spray, the glass should be clean. The glass might appear clean, but there could be fingerprints or small dust particles that can affect that etching. Therefore, it is better to apply denatured alcohol to the surface and clean it.

4) A Few Drinking Glasses

Buy a few drinking glasses because you might end up wasting a few of them at the start. A few hits and trials are needed before getting the perfect result. You can buy cheap glasses for the trial, and once you understand the settings and nitty-gritty, you can opt for the standard glass.

5) Rotary Attachment

Drinking glasses are cylindrical, and for engraving cylindrical objects, you need a rotary attachment. A regular cylindrical drinking glass is easy to engrave as it can be used on any type of rotary attachment. But for wine glasses and drinking glasses with irregular cylinder shape, you need special rotary attachments.

use ra2 pro to etch glass

xTool has solved this issue of rotary attachment by introducing the world’s first 4-in-1 rotary attachment, RA2 Pro, that is suitable for 90% daily cylindrical engraving scenarios. Whether the glass is a regular cylinder or wine glass, the attachment is suitable for all.

6) Risers

Risers are needed to increase the height of xTool D1 to fit different engraving or etching scenarios. When the height is increased, there is ample space for the rotary attachment and the glass. If you didn’t buy risers with the machine, buy them separately.

Setting Up xTool D1

Setting up xTool D1 is relatively easy. You need to set it up like your regular engraving task.

  1. Connect the machine to the computer first.
  2. Install risers to increase the height of the machine.
  3. Now, place the rotary attachment and connect the wires.
  4. Make sure the software is installed and working properly.

If you have just bought the machine, you need to assemble it first. Follow this xTool D1 unboxing guide to assemble the machine and use it for the first time.

Safety Measurements

Before etching glass using a laser, make sure the area is well-ventilated. The fumes that come out due to the paint and cold galvanizing compound are potent and harmful. Whenever you are using the machine, install a few fans and open the windows. If there is an exhaust fan or ventilation system, turn it on.

Secondly, don’t forget to wear safety goggles. When the laser hits the glass, the beams reflect and refract in various directions. It is better to put the glass on until the glass is completely etched. You might have got safety glasses with xTool D1, so you can put them on.

5 Steps to Etch Glass Using xTool D1

After setting up xTool D1, you are ready to etch the glass. Follow the steps below carefully to get amazing results.

Note: We are using the 10W diode module on xTool D1. If you are using the 20W module, then adjust the power accordingly.  

Step 1: Clean the etching surface of the glass using denatured alcohol.

The first step is related to the cleaning of drinking glasses. Wipe them off with a dry cloth and remove any dust. For removing fingerprints, grease, oil, and other sticky residues, use denatured alcohol.

clean glass etching surface

Apply alcohol on a piece of cloth and clean the glasses. During the process, avoid touching the etching surface with your bare fingers as it will leave the fingerprints.

Step 2: Spray cold galvanizing compound to the glass surface.

It is time to use the tempera paint or cold galvanizing compound. You need to avoid spraying inside the glass. For that, you can either cover the glass using duct tape or put the glass upside down.

Now, apply a thin and uniform coat. If the coat is not uniform, the etching will not be perfect; some areas will be etched more while some will be etched less. It is better to apply the coat in a ventilated area.

spray coat on glass

Step 3: Set up the power and speed on Laserbox Basic software.

After applying the coat, let the glass dry. When it is completely dry, take the measurements (the width and length) and place it over the rotary attachment. Upload the design to the software.

On the software, you can adjust the size of the image according to the measurements of the object. Choose the Coated Metal material in the settings. Then, set the power to 100% and speed to 70 mm/s. The settings here are suggested based on our testing and most likely intended for the best etching results.

Step 4: Adjust the laser focus and hit Start.

Adjust the placement of the module. You will see the crosshair on the object. Now, adjust the focus of the laser. Finally, click on the Start button. Set the position of the laser in the middle, and don’t forget to turn on Cylinder Working. Click on Start to begin etching.

adjust laser focus before etching

Step 5: Wipe off the cold galvanizing compound to show the etched image.

After the etching process is completed, you need to wipe off all the cold galvanizing compuond to get a clean drink glass with a beautifully etched image on it.

Note: You might waste a few glasses before you finnally get the result you want. Don't get frustrated halfway.

Final Words

Etching glass using a diode laser is a bit different from engraving other common materials, such as wood. It requires a coating of paint or galvanizing compound to carry out the process.

Secondly, you need a rotary attachment for the drinking glass. We have discussed the required materials and the step-by-step procedure. You can follow the same steps for plain glass sheets or any other shape of the glass.

xTool D1 enables you to make a wide range of objects and engrave and cut different materials. It is an ideal machine for hobbyists, DIY lovers, professionals, and artists to express their creativity. In addition, it can also be used to start a small laser engraving and cutting business.

The content of this article, including the pictures, are based on the video made by Nick, our enthusiastic xTool D1 user and YouTuber. Check more of his brilliant laser ideas and tutorials here.

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