Abrasive V's Laser Engraving

Like most things in this world, all things have their place and the same applies when it comes to having your crystal or glass award, sculpture or recognition plaque engraved or personalised.

With the advent of laser technology, it is often offered as the preferred way to engrave crystal and glass.it can be clean and relatively quick and may be suited to the odd beer tankard or wine glass. To the uninitiated, the result might be what they expected, the name or the logo is permanently on the item, BUT when compared to the results of the same logo or text being engraved using an abrasive etching method, the results are "chalk & cheese".


Laser V's Etch    Engraving detail

Test photo only....

 Let me explain why, because it is all about the education of you, the customer, so that you are informed and can make the best choice for your requirements. After all, who wants to spend big dollars on a premium vase, decanter, crystal award or recognition plaque, only to have it spoiled by cheap looking engraving!

The laser beam is focused on the surface of the material and with glass and crystal in particular, the focal point, being very hot, chips or "dots" a minute portion of the material, as it is guided by the computers artwork. The computer controls the positioning of the laser beam and so with each pulse of the laser, and there are thousands, more and more of the surface is "chipped" as the lasering continues, creating the image that becomes the end result. The laser beam has no ability to penetrate into the material to give a deep carved or embossed effect, it is merely a surface change to create the basic image. Sometimes the density of the "dots can be varied  to create a gradient effect and this can be useful if say a photograph is being applied to a polished stone surface.

Contrast this with the use of a photo mask and abrasive etching and the difference is striking.

A stencil or mask is created photographically, allowing great detail to be replicated. The mask is adhered to the surface if the material, allowing it to be positioned exactly, catering for both flat and curved or wavy surfaces. The mask is then subjected to a stream of very fine and sharp abrasive, which erodes the material surface. Initially it will just frost the surface, but is a very uniform and even way. As the material is further exposed, more and more of the material is eroded away. This allows the option of eroding some areas more than others and if done deep enough, the eroded areas can have colour added to create a greater contrast or to embellish a logo or text.

When compared side by side, (see the image below), the quality and class of the abrasive method is very obvious.

Because the abrasive technique allows deeper carving of the material, many items can be reverse engraved, (engraved on the back of the item), to create an embossed or add a very effective, second dimension, which in turn can be colour filled if required.

So, when you need your crystal or glass personalised, do consider these facts and think about the end result, because, once done, it is nearly impossible to "rub out"