Need help selecting the right laser for marking painted aluminum parts

I’m looking to get into fabricating aircraft instrument panels. These will be painted and I much prefer marking them over actually removing a significant amount of material for engraving. I’ve been trying to research on the web, but it’s been daunting. I’m in the process of building a CNC router to fabricate the panels. I’d love to get input on how to incorporate a laser marker into it also.

Thanks everyone

You’ll need to make sure your parts are certifiable, I don’t know about panel markings specifically but I know (at least in the US) the FAA or your local authorities often have incredibly specific requirements for every little part that goes into an airplane.

Really the only lasers that are compatible with CNC machines are low wattage diode laser markers, which are slow and may not be a particularly good fit. If you have a CNC machine already I don’t see why you don’t rotary engrave the parts?

That said a decent quality CO2 laser is ideally suited for laser marking painted metals, including aluminum. I would get something with a large enough bed size to suit your needs and at least 40 watts of output power, meaning if you get an import laser with a glass tube look for something with at least a 50 watt tube as you should not run those tubes at their full rated power.

I’m an A&P IA in the US and have been in touch with the FAA for legality of this. The main reason I don’t want to engrave the panels is because of their thickness typically .032”-.064”. Thank you for the feedback.