Removing Laser Engraving from iPod
July 27, 2006 1:55 PM   Subscribe

How can I remove laser engraving from my iPod?

I've looked around the net and it seems this might be impossible. Does anyone have any ideas? Aside from totally destroying the back of my iPod with a grinder or sandpaper.

Will A LOT of Brasso work?
posted by blueplasticfish to Computers & Internet (17 answers total)
Best answer: My inclination would be to take it to a laser engraver and ask if it would work to have something else - a plain circle or rectangle for example - engraved on top of it.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:19 PM on July 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

Engraving is removed metal so you can remove a negative space. However you can "brush" or engrave the entire thing and make it more normalized.
posted by Napierzaza at 2:21 PM on July 27, 2006

Best answer: Anything that worksI would say that brasso wouldn't work, but if it does, it would do so by polishing down the metal and wearing away the difference.

If that's what it takes, use a buffer and buffing compound. Buffers for dremels are a bit small, so you might have a hard time getting an even job, but you could buy a buffing head and disk for a grinder (actually, get two and stack them to make a wider buffing head), and put it on a power drill. (Lower speed than a grinder, but it should still be enough).

Remove the plate from the ipod before doing any of that - the amount of work involved in changing the metal is liable to flex it, which, if the HDD is still on the other side because the ipod is still attached, could ruin the mechanics.

A better solution might be to print something onto adhesive plastic to put on the back, or otherwise decorate the back in a durable, stylish manner. There are commerical "skins" available, but they're for the front - there might be skins for the back as well though, I'm not sure.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:23 PM on July 27, 2006

No. the etching will be too deep for that. You're talking about a half millimeter's difference, and the amount of manual rubbing to ensure full uniformity would be proportionate to grinding/sanding. The easiest alternatives would be to find a nice case that obscures the etching, or order a plain backplate from a secondhand parts outlet.
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:25 PM on July 27, 2006

Incidentally, it is not "totally destroying" the back of your ipod to remove the engraving by giving the ipod that "designer" brushed steel finish via sanding - the shiny steel back is a marketing trick that looks sweet in the store, but after it's been kicking around in your pocket for a while, quickly gets scratched as garked and looks worse IMO than the same wear on a brushed steel back would look. I wouldn't rule out fine-grit sanding just yet. But again, it would be unwise to do it with the ipod still attached, since you'd want the finish to extend around the edges, but without scratching the plastic.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:27 PM on July 27, 2006

BTW, in case this is why you're asking, personalized case engraving does not invalidate the iPod warranty.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 2:39 PM on July 27, 2006

You're talking about a half millimeter's difference

No, I just went and looked at mine, and the difference is practically nothing - the laser doesn't really engrave so much just remove the polishedness of the surface. Running a finger over it, there is no discernable indentation, just a change in texture.

So I'm now thinking it's pretty doable to buff it out and be left with a unmarked polished back, but I haven't tried (and as mentioned, I would remove it from the ipod before buffing. It _might_ even be possible to brasso out, but a buffing/polishing compound would be a better approach.

(This is assuming the Apple factory "engraving" on mine was done the same as yours. Mine is a nano.)
posted by -harlequin- at 2:46 PM on July 27, 2006

There's plenty of information on how to give your iPod a brushed back, if you do think that solution will work.
posted by booksandlibretti at 3:04 PM on July 27, 2006

Stealing iPods, are we?

The engraving on the back of my iPod says "Stolen from" and my name.
posted by Dunwitty at 4:06 PM on July 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

Stealing iPods, are we?

Or buying used, or receiving as hand-me-down, or receiving as a gift...
posted by cortex at 4:16 PM on July 27, 2006

Best answer: Maybe removing the remnants of a bad break-up.
posted by trey at 4:17 PM on July 27, 2006

Take it to an Apple Store and ask how much for a whole new back? That'd probably be the easiest way, though it'd probably cost money.
posted by kindall at 4:54 PM on July 27, 2006

For those who are wondering, there is an engraving service from Apple for your new iPod.


All you need to do is buy in volume.

Perhaps he/she just wants to remove a logo from a pre-engraved iPod...
posted by Leenie at 4:56 PM on July 27, 2006

*Perhaps* he or she upgraded to something better, and wants to get something reasonable selling it on ebay...
posted by baylink at 6:04 PM on July 27, 2006

You don't even have to buy in volume, for a long time Apple was offering free engraving to anyone who bought their ipod online. In fact, they still are.

"Add free laser engraving to iPod —
perfect for birthdays, anniversaries, or just because."

This seems like a good deal till it croaks, and you find the Apple store will just swap you a new one... unless it's engraved, in which case you have to do the exchange via mail.

And that's really a really douchbaggy thing to accuse someone of without foundation, Dunwitty. Nice one.
posted by phearlez at 10:16 AM on July 28, 2006

I am not a metalworker, but I have experience with sharpening tools, and this seems like a similar problem.

When sharpening a tool, the goal is to make its cutting surface perfectly flat and smooth, removing any scratches or nicks. One does this by abrading the surface with decreasingly coarse abrasives. You want to start with an abrasive that will leave scratches that are about the same size as the scratches you're trying to remove, then use a finer abrasive to remove its scratches, and continue until the scratches are so small that the surface is shiny and unscathed.

I would buy this sharpening system (get the "fine paper set"). Start with the lowest grit and sand gently until all the laser marks are removed. Sand with the next higher grit until all the marks from the previous sandpaper are removed. Continue until you've gotten to the highest grit. Finish with Brasso.
posted by jewzilla at 10:19 AM on July 28, 2006

Buy a trashed iPod on eBay for $10-20. They are frequently there, offered for parts.
posted by emg at 8:43 AM on August 2, 2006

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