Top 5 Things to Consider Before Laser Engraving a Steel Cup

Engraving steel cups would require a laser engraver along with a rotary attachment. There are other considerable issues on which we will write today.

Yeti cup engraving has been a trendy passion mainly because people use tumblers each day and engraving brings a unique signature. Moreover, people prefer to gift those customized cups mainly because it is unique and the gifted person will always use them.

An Yeti rambler is available at $28 to $35 at the Yeti store and the same rambler is sold at $60 just after engraving a simple name or design.

So, a small engraving business makes about a 100% profit margin, and may be incurring a $5 cost.

That’s huge, right?

There are small businesses that grow their business using rotary engraving and also people are now trying DIY rotary engraving since the rambler engravers are not so expensive nowadays.

Laser engraved cup cost

Let us discuss, what are the important things that you should consider before engraving a rambler:

Material compatibility

Your primary concern is whether the laser machine is metal engraving-friendly or not.

Just a recap, only the infrared lasers and the fiber lasers can engrave shiny steel and the other lasers can only engrave coated steel.

In the case of steel cups, you need to check what would you need!

If you need to engrave a plain steel cup (bare steel cup), there is no alternative to the infrared laser and fiber laser. You may choose the infrared lasers as the fiber lasers are mostly suitable for industrial use.

Shiny steel cup engraving tips

In the case of Yeti ramblers, or similar type coffee mugs, you may use the normal lasers because the Yeti ramblers are coated steel.

The budget-friendly lasers (diode and Co2) generate a laser beam at a power of 400 to 10600 wavelength which cannot work on shiny steel. Because the shiny side of the steel mug reflects the laser beam to the other side.

Since the Yeti ramblers are coated, and you are on a tight budget then the CO2 lasers will do the job as such lasers engrave the outer layer of paint (coat) and bring the designs live.

So, the material compatibility needs to be addressed first.

What equipment will you need?

Let’s say you have chosen to go with the CO2 lasers to engrave steel cups. The next thing you need to ensure is what other equipment or features would you need.

For example, cup engraving would need a rotary roller that helps to keep the cup moving steadily as the laser beam goes.

We have seen that most lasers accompany a rotary kit but there are many stores where you may need to order extra.

Cup engraving tips

Most importantly, the laser machine you have chosen to go with must have enough space underneath to fit the rotary roller otherwise you may need to invest in a bed riser which can be an extra burden.

Similarly, you need to ensure that the machine comes with an air assist which helps in better laser accuracy and precision.

Design complexity

You need to be clever in choosing the designs as well. In other words, all designs may not be easy to engrave.

In simple words, a write-up you may easily engrave but a QR code would require laser marking which is the job of a fiber laser or an infrared laser.

In simple words, laser engraving melts a layer of metal but the laser marking works by not melting but by changing the metal properties that give it a different appearance through metal properties reaction.

This is subjective and everyone’s case is not straightforward.

Moreover, if you are trying to engrave any logo where the customers want a specific or a close color then you would need a different machine which we call a MOPA fiber laser.

So, the entire thing is a series of questions that you need to answer yourself step-by-step.

Preparation and post-processing

Engraving the cup would need a stable rotary kit to hold the cup steady. If you are building your rotary roller, you need to ensure that the motor is not overclocking otherwise the laser beam cannot work as directed.

At the preparation stage, you may need to apply a temporary coat if there is any shiny part visible as there will always be a risk of laser reflection which can put you in trouble.

Additionally, engraving starting point can be a tough call for you. If your laser machine allows you to set the design through the camera then it might be easy as you can see the preview screen before getting started.

But what will happen if the laser machine is an open frame and does not have a camera?

In such a situation, you need to set the design’s starting point and the endpoint with the help of coordination. This is an important task otherwise the design would be wrongly placed and the rambler would remain unused.

Remember, you cannot erase the engravings once done.

Safety measurement

While engraving you should always follow the standard safety guidelines which include wearing a laser-safe eye glass.

This is better if you can use an engraved laser and it is even best if your laser machine has an enclosure made of protective laser shield.

To be on the safe side, try choosing engravers that are safety certified and come with a fire system integration feature.


In conclusion, laser engraving a steel cup is a precise and elegant process that demands careful consideration. By keeping these 5 considerable points, your cup engraving would surely be an easy job.

Good luck

Ethan Robert
Ethan Robert

Hi, I'm Ethan.

After graduating from the University of North Dakota, I started knowing the CNC and that becomes my passion.

Earlier, I had fascination of 3d printers, Laser cutters and other CNC machines. Later on, I started analyzing those machine and started blogging on my known things by a different way.

I aim to assist you with the insights of 3d printer, laser engravers and computer printers with the help that you save your money and take the right decision before you purchase any machine.

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