How Engraving Works

laser engraving machine

Laser Engraving Machine in action

Everybody enjoys engraved products. Most of the printing we see on promotional products is done through laser beams. This is what is commonly referred to as laser engraving. Lasers aren’t applied in the printing industry only. Almost every aspect of our daily lives utilises lasers in one way or another. From the manufacturing sector to the retail and even the medical industries, lasers are all over planet earth.

Generation and Utilisation of Energy

Laser is a short form which stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The laser equipment used in the process is usually hooked to a source of energy such as electricity.

The energy passes through the specific material causing its atoms to undergo rapid movement discharging extra energy. The additional energy released as a result of rapid atom movement is mirrored inside the laser equipment to produce a concentrated beam of light which is usually referred to as a laser beam.

Finally, the energy is converted into heat and used to decorate an item. Essentially, the process involves the careful burning of the surface of the item to produce the desired results. Computers are used to calibrate the temperature of the laser beam ensuring that only the area covered is engraved.

Engraving on Special Materials

Engravers don’t use the same chemical to produce a laser beam. We have CO2 lasers and Nd: YAG lasers. The CO2 engravers are the most common and they contain chambers which are filled with carbon dioxide gas. They utilise minimum energy, and they are suitable for printing materials such as fabric, glass, wood, and lightweight plastics.

On the other hand, the Nd: YAG engravers usually contain solid materials referred to as neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet. These are high-energy engraver machines that are used on heavy materials such as high-grade plastics and metals. However, they are not supposed to be used on PVC or any other types of plastics that contain chlorine since the results can be disastrous.

Sign being engraved

Engraving Stainless Steel

Stainless steel engraving isn’t an easy task. It sends shivers down the spin of many engravers. Currently, few engravers are willing to work with stainless steel regardless of the profits involved.=

Stainless steel is always selected for some applications since it is durable, corrosion-resistant and will not contaminate other materials. It is inactive hence doesn’t react with most chemicals, and above all, it is moisture-resistant.

These are the reasons why stainless steel is heavily used in the food processing industry, and large hospitals where a simple reaction or corrosion can be disastrous. Some of the key areas where stainless steel is applied include control panels, elevator panels, signs, and switch and legend plates. Read on to discover more about stainless steel engraving.

Stainless Steel Engraving Tools

One of the essential tools that you will appreciate when cutting stainless steel is the collet spindle. If you can manage to proceed with the engraving process without it, be sure that you will end up with broken cutters.

The collect spindle with a split allows extra rigidity for deeper cuts and fewer chances of cutter breaking. One thing that you need to avoid is cutting stainless steel with small, lightweight engraving systems.

This is because the forces exerted on the mechanics and motors may be excessive for the design. The choice of your cutting tool will play a major impact in determining the success of your stainless steel engraving process. The collect spindle offers more options as opposed to the traditional single fluted engraving tool.

There are varied opinions about how to select the right cutter materials. While other people prefer carbide, others prefer high-speed steel cutters. Unless you have a cutter grinder readily available for sharpening, you should avoid the high-speed steel cutters.

A carbide is a suitable option since it chips more and you will probably have more characters to work with before the cutter finally needs re-sharpening. You should also avoid small tip sizes since the strength of the device will be heavily compromised.

The Material for Engraving

The engraving process becomes a little bit easier if you choose the material yourself. Even if you aren’t purchasing the material yourself, you can recommend to the customer the best materials. If you are sourcing the stainless from your local supply, be sure to inform the local supplier the application of the stainless steel.

Stainless steel contains a large amount of chromium. This means that it is a high-alloy steel with superior corrosion resistance. The grades of stainless steel are usually designated by a numbering system.

Seven Sisters sign

Stand By For The British Sign Awards

Why the British Sign Awards celebrates the cream of signage, from etched signs to shop fronts

Seven Sisters sign

Here’s one we did earlier for the Seven Sisters cliffs between Seaford and Eastbourne. If you’ve not been, they offer some stunning views of the English Channel and the Cuckmere Valley. No wonder Eric Ravilious loved this area.

For the fourth year running, the British Sign Awards will be celebrating the cream of the crop of the signage world. This prestigious awards ceremony will be held at Leicester Athena, a new venue for the 2017 event. It aims to celebrate all kinds of signage from etched signs to shop front. Categories include:

Continue reading

Trafford Park: the birthplace of Traffolyte.

Traffolyte Engraving: The Infographic

A visual look at Traffolyte engraving, in an easier to digest format

On numerous occasions, we have looked at the wonders of Traffolyte engraving. We have looked at it in written form, but previous accounts haven’t been quite as easy to read over a quick coffee. Or on a ten minute train journey.

Continue reading

Cubiio: The Compact Laser Engraver

Could future laser engravers, like Cubiio, be the size of a cigarette packet or smaller?

Cubiio post laser engraver image by Andrey Armyagov (via Shutterstock).

Imagine having this much power with a laser engraver the size of a matchbox or a cigarette packet? Cubiio could be a pocket rocket in years to come. Image by Andrey Armyagov (via Shutterstock).

Picture the scene, five years from now. We at Able Engraving and Design have a stall on the South of England Agricultural Show. We use the stall to show off our engraving talents. At this moment, the carriage of a laser engraving machine is a pretty bulky affair. In 2022, they could be big enough to place in our pockets. Mulherz, a Taiwanese company, is making this possible. Subject to a successful Kickstarter campaign, their Cubiio laser engraver could miniaturise engraving machines.

Continue reading

Why Go For Bespoke Engraving?

Why you should choose Able Engraving and Design for bespoke projects

Bespoke engraving image by Pressmaster (via Shutterstock).

Everything done your way: we at Able Engraving and Design can turn our hand to bespoke projects with ease. Image by Pressmaster (via Shutterstock).

For over three decades, Able Engraving and Design have offered bespoke engraving services for customers in the South East of England, and further afield. Our company was formed in July 1986 by Mr. A. Douglas. Back then, Wham!’s swansong The Edge of Heaven topped the UK singles chart. This was the year of Diego Maradona’s Hand of God against England, in the World Cup Finals. On the telly, we watched Duty Free, Howard’s Way, and Surprise Surprise!.

Continue reading

The Art of Wood Engraving

A look at how traditional wood engraving techniques are performed

The Long Man of Wilmingham, a wood engraving by Eric Ravilious (1925).

The Long Man of Wilmingham: a fine example of wood engraving by Eric Ravilious (1925).

For wood engraving, Able Engraving and Design are more likely to use laser beams instead of manual engraving tools. Though too slow to meet the turnaround times by today’s clientele, the old fashioned way has an irresistible charm. A charm which gives us a finished product that is timeless.

Continue reading

New £10 Note Design Revealed

Able Engraving and Design eagerly awaits the new look £10 note, due for public release in September 2017

Jane Austen (coloured version), now on the new £10 note.

Jane Austen: famous author and the face of our new £10 notes.

Have you got used to the new fivers yet? We seem to have got over the plasticky feel, or the craze of selling some specimens on eBay due to some inconsistencies. From September 2017, this will be joined by a new wave of similarly plasticky £10 notes. The new £10 note design was revealed in a press conference on the 18 July at Winchester Cathedral, by the Bank of England’s Chief Governor, Mark Carney.

Continue reading

Laser Etched KFC Phone, Anyone?

Why 5,000 Huawei smartphones will be available in red, with a laser etched Colonel Sanders on the rear

Laser Etched KFC image by Tupungato (via Shutterstock).

Today’s smartphones use NFC to find your nearest KFC, but Huawei’s limited edition handset will enable you to do just that. In red. With Colonel Sanders on the back. Image by Tupungato (via Shutterstock).

If you like your chicken Kentucky style, there is nothing better than a night in with a Bargain Bucket or a Family Feast. With your favourite television programme or film. Today, we have learned about the latest must-have item for fans of KFC. You can now get a smartphone with a laser etched Colonel Sanders on the rear.

Continue reading

The Rise of Laser Engraving

Why is laser engraving rising in popularity?

Rise of laser engraving image by Andrey Armyagov (via Shutterstock).

Sparks will fly: laser engraving is more the norm instead of the exception. Image by Andrey Armyagov (via Shutterstock).

Laser engraving: we at Able Engraving and Design swear by this method. For many materials and applications, it has moved from a flight of fancy to a necessity. How? Firstly, the affordability of personal computers. This, and any interface with a laser etching machine, allows for a greater variety of designs. Here’s our look at why laser engraved plaques and other objects have risen in popularity. Continue reading