The same conduction that works against the spot vaporization of metal is an asset if the objective is to vaporize some other coating away from the metal. Laser engraving metal plates are manufactured with a finely polished metal, coated with an enamel paint made to be "burned off". At levels of 10-30 watts, excellent engravings are made as the enamel is removed quite cleanly. Much laser engraving is sold as exposed brass or silver-coated steel lettering on a black or dark-enamelled background. A wide variety of finishes are now available, including screen-printed marble effects on the enamel.
Anodized aluminum is commonly engraved or etched with CO2 laser machines. With power less than 40W this metal can easily be engraved with clean, impressive detail. The laser bleaches the color exposing the white or silver aluminum substrate. Although it comes in various colors, laser engraving black anodized aluminum provides the best contrast of all colors. Unlike most materials engraving anodize aluminum does not leave any smoke or residue.
Spray coatings can be obtained for the specific use of laser engraving metals, these sprays apply a coating that is visible to the laser light which fuses the coating to the substrate where the laser passed over. Typically, these sprays can also be used to engrave other optically invisible or reflective substances such as glass and are available in a variety of colours. Besides spray coatings, some laser-markable metals come pre-coated for imaging. Products such as this transform the surface of the metal to a different color (often black, brown or grey).