After being started along some research by Doug Fisher (in the Dry Moly thread), I read that the inventor of CerMark, Paul was now selling a new formula of black marking material under the brand name Laserbond, and that the litany of civil cases over CerMark were finally settled. Wanting to support the small guy and try his new product, I ordered from Paul's site http://www.laserbondingtech.com and subsequently began discussing LaserBond, it's uses and best practices, and even the history of the product with Paul through email. If you are curious about the history, this is what he told me:
The information posted (on RDWorksLab in the Dry Moly Thread) is basically correct both with regard to the Dry Moly spray which contains molybdenum disulfide and which we tested thoroughly (but it didn't work nearly as well as molybdenum trioxide which is much more expensive and a critical component in our formulation; as well as the references to my initial posts in September on http://www.sawmillcreek.org which were taken down by the moderator because he thought I was too blatantly trying to promote my new LaserBond 100 products - as opposed to trying to get the "real story" out there about the actual technology and the legal battles associated with it in opposition to other products available (which are all licensed under my original patents), but now owned by Ferro (CerMark). There have been lawsuits going on since 1997, with the final result that Ferro has used their financial resources and now owns or controls all of the early patents to this technology.
Since you purchased from my website, you know that I'm the original inventor of this technology and that there's been a very long history to obscure the actual inventorship of the technology and to attempt to take the business away from me. Based on the recent legal decision, I intend to continue to go directly to all potential customers with the "real story" and to continue to improve the product (as shown by my pending patent) and offer it directly to all end users at a much lower price by eliminating the multi-level distribution markups provided by Ferro - especially since they've bought TherMark (which I originally founded) and now basically control the entire market for this technology. I'll be telling more of the history and the current status of these products on my website blog, so please go back to the website and sign up for the newsletter.
Obviously this is one side of the story, as is my experience since I haven't tried CerMark or TherMark, but it is interesting to those who are curious like I am.
During our conversations, Paul helped me when I first started using the product. I think his feedback could help others starting out in metal marking, so I'll post an excerpt here:
If your original image was of sufficient quality (120 dpi or higher) then it would appear that the coating of the LaserBond 100 you sprayed onto the surface was too thick and/or you used too much power. (Remember that power and speed are closely related - slower speed is basically the equivalent of more power because portions of the laser spot remain in the same position for a longer period of time, even though it's only milliseconds). Due to the smaller particle size, approximately one thousandth of an inch (0.001") is about the optimum thickness, however it's very difficult to spray the coating that thin - it takes practice! The thicker the coating - the more power (or slower speed) you will need to generate enough heat to make the chemical bonding occur causing the LaserBond 100 to adhere to the substrate surface; however. a thicker coating will also produce "fuzzier" edges because the heat generated by the laser spot (when absorbed by the coating) will radiate out into a larger area of the coating and cause the lines of the image (laser dots - dpi plus laser pulses per second) which will then become larger than the original image intended - as interpreted by the laser software/firmware. So my recommendation is to use a thinner coating and/or faster speed to improve the quality of the finished laser marking.
There's much more involved with all this thermal energy/chemical reaction process technology, but I think that's enough for now.
I did find out there is such a thing as too thin of a spray. If the spray is too thin that you can see the metal underneath, the black parts will not be solid after lasering. It seems that you want it as thin as possible while using enough to completely obscure the metal (or other material's surface). I use significantly less power with LaserBond over Dry Moly as well. Only 23% power (~8 watts) at 50mm/s for stainless steel. The only other material I've tried so far has been a white ceramic tile that Dry Moly failed on completely, but LaserBond marked nicely.
Here are some of the RTIC tumblers I've been making lately. I received my first order from a paying customer completely by accident today, so I'll be marking 20 more RTIC tumblers soon. I am still new to this, but I thought you guys would appreciate my initial impressions. I'd love to hear from anyone else with experience in metal marking, especially if they have tried both CerMark and LaserBond.
*I have no idea why some of the images are rotated incorrectly. Sorry.