Etching Vs. Engraving

In a world full of complexities and robust interchangeable terms certain aspects of a given industry can often be intermingled. Etching vs engraving is one of those examples. Although very similar in some respects, the technological aspects of etching vs engraving also share many bold dissimilarities.

For example, laser engraving cuts a cavity through the material’s surface leaving a cavity that reveals an image or writing at eye level that is noticeable to the touch as well. Laser etching on the other hand basically sweeps away a top layer of material without cutting into the metal and creating a crevice. Laser engraving is accomplished by using a high heat laser that causes the material surface to vaporize. In contrast, laser etching machines are less powerful and provide only a fraction of the cutting capabilities of a laser engraver.

Furthermore, Etching and engraving are both methods of cutting lines into a hard surface, such as metal. The primary difference between them is that engraving is a physical process and etching is a chemical process. An engraver uses sharp tools to cut lines directly into a surface, while an etcher burns lines into a surface with acid.

Laser Technology

A laser is a device that emits a beam of coherent light through an optical amplification process. There are many types of lasers including gas lasers, fiber lasers, solid state lasers, dye lasers, diode lasers and excimer lasers.

Lasers are key components of many of the products that we use every day. Consumer products like Blu-Ray and DVD players rely on laser technology to read information from the disks. Bar code scanners rely on lasers for information processing. Lasers are also used in many surgical procedures such as LASIK eye surgery. In manufacturing, lasers are used for cutting, engraving, drilling and marking a broad range of materials.

Advantages of Engraving

There are numerous advantages of engraving that can take your project to the next level. Some of the more impactful advantages of engraving, include:

  • The laser creates high heat during the engraving process, which essentially causes the material to vaporize.
  • It’s a quick process, as the material is vaporized with each pulse.
  • This creates a cavity in the surface that is noticeable to the eye and touch.
  • To form deeper marks with the laser engraver, repeat with several passes.
  • Provides durability, speed, cost efficiency & ultimate repeatability

Engraving depth can vary between 0.02″ in metals to 0.125″ in harder materials. You can engrave almost any type of material but are most commonly used for metal, plastics, wood, leather, glass and acrylic.

Advantages of Etching

Etching shares many similarities with engraving, of which the aim is to produce crevices and lines below the surface of the material. Laser etching, which is a subset of laser engraving, occurs when the heat from the beam causes the surface of the material to melt. The depth of a laser etch is usually no more than 0.001″. Etching is a more viable option for thin materials and small projects such as jewelry. The numerous advantages of etching, include:

  • Extremely precise
  • Material savings
  • High speed of realization
  • Available for numerous materials
  • Provides durability, speed, cost efficiency & ultimate repeatability

Contact Sine-Tific Solutions Today

Contact us for more information regarding our industrial engraving services and the advantages of engraving , or request a quote today.

We are a leading California screen printing and industrial engraving company since our founding in 1963.

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