View Full Version : Engraving and etching measuring equipment

01-07-2010, 11:13 PM
I am looking for opinions on marking measuring tools. Specifically does anyone see an issue using one of the chemical etching systems
to identify things like Mitutoyo Digital calipers
I have heard opinions that say not to engrave but I think they are talking about using a vibratory system.
My daughter just started just started her CNC technicians course and I want to ensure that her tools don't get misplaced.


01-08-2010, 12:16 AM
I use a pencil grinder "micro die grinder" with a ball carbide burr.

01-08-2010, 12:56 AM
You can buy a diamond point glass cutter at most glass shops and some hardware stores that will scratch engrave anything.

01-08-2010, 09:46 AM
Thanks for the feedback so far. The real question is does anyone see a problem with using the chemical etch system on that type of caliper. I am not going to go out and buy one. I have access to one and was looking for comments on any issues related to using it on that type of digital device. The comments about not engraving that type of digital caliper I assume are related to possible damage if engraving using on of those vibrating pens. I dont know thats why I posed the question.

01-08-2010, 10:07 AM
Sorry not to address the question. I would not use a chemical pen or similar system in close proximity to electronics. A while back I was doing some cold bluing and I left a small wad of cotton that had some solution still in it on the bench top. It was sitting about 6 inches away from this R8 collet. I went upstairs for an half an hour and when I came back this is how the collet looked. It isn't damaged but if it were an electronic assembly with connectors it would probably be destroyed sooner than later. Even though gold won't be corroded there are other components what will. Steel is widely used for component leads.


01-08-2010, 10:14 AM
I would'nt bother engraving them for two reasons.
One, it destorys the resale value of the tools, and generaly unless done professionaly, looks like crap.
Two, it does not stop thiefs.
Iv seen someone who stole gloves that had someone elses FULL name writen in 1" high print along the cuffs of the gloves, readable from about 8' away.
If they will still steal a $5 pair of gloves with 1" high print, what chance does your $100 caliper have with 1/4" high print?

Your better off investing in a good toolbox lock (And any metalworker knows a lock is only good for about 15 seconds against an angle grinder..) and a toolbox with EVERYTHING marked out for placement (marker outlines or custom made drawer inlays), so that a 'missing tool' stands out like a sore thumb.

01-08-2010, 10:41 AM
Evan, Bm,
Thanks this is the type of feedback I am looking for.
I am not familiar with how corrosive the electrolyte is in this system, it uses AC to make it cook. That also could wipe out the electronics.
BM I agree about the lack of deterrent.
My initial reaction is not to to engrave for the response reasons.
But this place is a great place to get feedback that either rreinforces what you were thinking or makes you re asses your position. ;-)

Thanks. I think I will go with plan A and not mark. They are in a locked toolbox at school. :-)

01-08-2010, 12:30 PM
A thief is going to steal something regardless, but to help keep things from accidentally walking off is a paint marker. Pick a good bright color and go after them in a prominent spot. You can remove it later but it can help with who owns what.

01-08-2010, 12:49 PM
Engraving or scratching ID on precision tools is not only unsightly, but it can damage tools.

The electrochemical marking systems such as Monode are frequently used. The resulting markings are neat and easily read. The basic sets are economical, stencils can be created either with a typewriter or hand written and can be used multiple times. The reagents are not any more corrosive than any other chemical used in the shop and if handled with reasonable care present no problem. I have several of these floating around here right now and have not experienced any problems with corrosion.


01-08-2010, 12:54 PM
The issues is the nearby electronics in a digital caliper Jim. That is an entirely different situation where even trace fumes of a reactive chemical might cause damage.

01-08-2010, 01:36 PM
There are no trace fumes Evan, the system is in common in use throughout the industry with no ill effects.

If there is any concern, slide the reading head down and mark the fixed jaw or the backside of the instrument.

01-08-2010, 03:02 PM
There are no trace fumes Evan, the system is in common in use throughout the industry with no ill effects.

There is no way you can make that statement with any certainty. Monode Marking Products does not say what is in their electrolytes nor do they provide any sort of MSDS for any of their products. They do however sell a neutralizer to be used to neutralize whatever is in the electrolytes.

By searching further I did find a Canadian company the rebrands the Monode products and does have MSDS information available. Most of the chemical constituents are labelled as trade secret but I did find that two of the electrolytes contain either cobalt chloride or oxalic acid. Both are toxic and reactive. Another electrolyte used for marking stainless steel contains an unnamed organic acid in the amount of 7 percent as well as 20 percent chloride salts and may emit chlorine gas on decomposition. That in particular is a very good reason to keep the chemical away from electronic products since any sort of electrolytic action will decompose chloride salts.

01-08-2010, 04:30 PM
I have used one of these with good results. It looks a lot like a regular marker but stains most metals. Removable? Yes...by abraision, but it does not wipe off with solvents.


I left the pen sitting next to a piece of steel (for many months) and saw some nearby corrosion. I now keep it in a plastic bag. However, just like with using cold bluing, you can wipe a marked surface with say WD-40 and a towel and remove any stray traces of the chemical. It doesn't go on particularly wet anyway.

Cold bluing is known for leaving corrosive traces, so Evan's results are not surprising. However, that's quite different than quickly writing something on a surface with a tiny marker and then quickly coating the surface with something to prevent corrosion. I think it would take a concentrated bit of this solution in an environment where enough vapor pressure could be created to drive it into the reader head on say a dial caliper. Suffice it to say I have used it on quite a few items with no ill effects.

Edit--I think things like calipers end up in an environment where a lot worse stuff creates some nasty exposure-- sulphurated cutting oils come to mind. Keeping them wiped clean is very important.


01-08-2010, 04:33 PM
You are familiar with the product how? Have you ever seen one in person or used it? It uses a very minimal amount of reagent on the stencil pad. The surface is neutralized and cleaned after use.

If used as I describe, no damage will result.

I currently have four Monode systems in three different styles in house. I have used them on occasion, but not recently. I believe I have a bit of a better idea of the use and application than that which can be obtained by Googling MSDs's.

01-08-2010, 05:46 PM
Googling MSDSs is a lot more informative than uninformed speculation. Even more informative in a negative way is the lack of information from the manufacturer of the marking system. I am not about to trust anybody that isn't willing to provide even the most basic safety information about their products. What I was able to discover strongly suggests that the products are far from benign.

Trying to demean the value of information discovered by a web search of the responsible manufacturers by characterizing it as "Googling" just doesn't work. The sources are from the companies that make the products, not Google. Anybody with intelligence recognizes that. Your attempt to disparage such information merely insults the intelligence of other readers.

01-08-2010, 09:37 PM
JC thanks for info. The product I speak of I have not used yet just got it at work for marking some asset numbers on some tooling. I figured I should try it out other places. :-) The system looks identical to the link you have posted. Except ours is made in Germany with a manual that is the worst English translation than any Chinese manual I have ever seen.