Engraving methods and their unique benefits

With crystal and glass awards now available in a whole range of designs and price points, it may be easier than ever to choose an ‘expensive looking’ item without breaking your budget. The beauty and elegance of glass and crystal could appear to some to be more attractive than conventional trophies. It is with this in mind that engraving is just as important as the material that is used when looking for a quality award, as different methods of engraving will offer a variety of results.

Sand-carving or sand-blasting

This technique entails the use of compressed air to force an abrasive substance through a nozzle, effectively ‘carving’ or ‘blasting’ an image or mark onto the glass. In the engraving industry, this is usually considered the best way to etch or engrave due to the quality of the results.

With sand-carving, it is to produce very fine details, the process is relatively easy and versatile, and the effects that can be achieved are usually exceptional.

Sand-carving can be used on all types of glass and crystal, as well as a variety of other materials, such as marble or granite. A change of abrasive will also allow for sand-carving on acrylic. With the use of good ‘resist’ (a sort of stencil) the details of a sand-carved engraving can be very precise.

Mechanical (Rotary) engraving

Computerised engraving machines are also a popular choice within the engraving industry. With an easy setup process, the results can be excellent. This method is especially good when applied to text engraving. Special holders for bottles or glasses can be utilised, making it easier when engraving script.

Using a faceted rotary diamond cutter, it is possible to produce good quality engraving. Most machines now come with glass engraving kits built in, making the process simple and straightforward.

Laser engraving

This procedure is regarded as an even simpler method of engraving. CO2 lasers offer a good choice for etching glass. The non-contact process, where a beam of light is directed at the glass, is convenient, fast and accurate, making laser engraving very conducive to high volume output.

This method may differ in quality compared to sand-carving or mechanical engraving, as the lead content of glass can affect the result. Nevertheless, with careful choice of materials and a skilled operative, the results can be very attractive.

Laser-assisted sand-carving

As the name suggests, this is a combination of two techniques. Involving both laser and sand-carving, the process can result in some very detailed and intricate images. The glass or crystal is covered by a masking material, which is then cut through with the laser to leave a stencil, which in turn is sand-carved to produce the image. The end result is a smooth and detailed engraving.

Whichever method is chosen, all the above-mentioned techniques have their unique benefits and can add value and appeal to either glass or crystal awards, bringing definition, depth and a certain ‘wow’ factor to what are usually very personal and treasured items.

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