Laser Engraving a 13" MacBook Pro

I engraved the name of my employer on the 13" MacBook Pro that I use for work.

I used the 50-watt Epilog Mini, with the following settings:

  • Raster only (vector cutting disabled)
  • Raster speed: 100%
  • Raster power: 60%
The MacBook Pro has a textured metal case, so laser engraving is a good process to use to decorate the surface.  I did not use tape or sprays; the only surface preparation was to clean the case with a damp paper towl and let it dry.

The layered SVG file that I used to drive the Epilog is attached. The layer called "exclusion zones" shows the parts of the laptop that I didn't want to engrave; it's just a guide to help figure you out where you would like to put the graphics, so it does not have any significance for the actual engraving process.  The layer called "engraving" contains the actual graphics that I engraved.  When you export the file to the Epilog, make sure that you only export the "engraving" layer.

One lesson learned is to make sure you lower the platform a good ways before putting the Macbook in to the laser engraver, even if you have auto-focus enabled.  When you press the "focus" button, the laser head moves overtop of where it expects the material to be, and it may may collide with the laptop (which is bad).

Lastly, if you're thinking about engraving your own laptop, I'd like to mention that the unibody MacBook Pro (and other metal latptops) are unusually good candidates for laser engraving.  Laser engraving of the wide variety of laptops available in the wild can be hit-and-miss, and it depends entirely on the materials used in the lid.  Laser engraving works well on non-shiney metals and some plastics.  It can also fail spectacularly particularly on shiny white plastics cases, or electroplated plastic cases.

UPDATE: A week after engraving the laptop, the folks at work seem to love it.  The photo doesn't really show how classy the laptop looks in person, especially if the laptop is set up on a nice shiney meeting-room table.

Luke's MacBook Pro - Engraving
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