At Spectrum Engraving, we are the engraving experts. We have mastered multiple engraving techniques for various materials. An essential part to ending up with a quality product is picking the correct engraving technique for the project. This becomes especially important in achieving the desired look and feel. For example, we’d use sand carving over laser engraving on crystal awards because they leave different textures on the material. Sand carving will leave a smooth matte finish while laser will just cut out the design. Here are the different techniques we use in our shop:
Our shop runs two different types of lasers, fiber lasers and CO2 lasers. These both use industrial-grade lasers to mark or burn away material. The lasers can engrave and cut through acrylic, leather, coated metal, wood, paper, and plastic. For cutting metal or glass, we typically utilize water jets. The CO2 lasers are used for all of our metal plates like the ones that go on trophies and plaques. We have special sheets of metal that are coated in black that the lasers burn off to reveal the design. Not only do use our CO2 lasers to directly engrave on items, but we often use them to cut vinyl that is used as a stencil for when we sand carve. Our fiber laser is great for intricately detailed designs on metal on YETI tumblers, Zippo lighters, and the like.
Sand blasting, or carving, is the best way to engrave crystal and glass awards. It also works well with marble, ceramic, and stone. Sand blasting is exactly what it sounds like. We shoot sand (actually an aluminum oxide), at the surface of the piece and carve away some of the material. While it is possible to simply laser engrave beautiful crystal and glass awards, the outcome is much less elegant. A lot of our competitors laser because it’s less expensive, quicker, and less labor intensive, but we always sand blast our crystal and glass. Sand blasting can also be used on metal items to make the finish smoother and matte looking. Sand carved and laser engraved items can also be color-filled to make the design stand out.
The rotary machines, which include our diamond drag, perform the traditional scratch engraving. A diamond-tipped cutter is dragged across the surface of the material. This technique is ideal when it comes to small text on watches, rings, silver plates, and jewelry. Although, the diamond drag is limited to curves and lines, not solid areas. To fill in areas, we use a technique called hatching to fill the space in between lines. On metal, the diamond drag makes the engraved words sparkle. Our large rotary machines on the other hand, are used primarily for our industrial labeling. We engrave large sheets of panel tags at a time for electrical companies.
Sublimation is an awesome way to add color to a plaque or simple trophy label. It requires special printing paper and label material and a heat press. We print a full color design on special printing paper, place it over the label material, and heat press the design onto the material. This technique is often used for name badges with full color logos, full color plaques, and plates for award bases.
We utilize some of the latest technologies to create high quality images on solid surfaces. Our UV color printer prints on metal, plastic, acrylic, and nearly any hard surface. The ink dries permanent. Most logos are designed in color and this technique is a great way to create an award with the most accurate form of a company’s logo. Color definitely adds a little character to any award.
At Spectrum Engraving, we love taking on custom projects. Awards should make the recipient proud and therefore, they should WOW. The next time you have an event, think about how you can take your awards to the next level. We’ve done a bunch of custom awards for the Arizona Cardinals which included a custom cut acrylic award with a brass game controller mounted right in the middle. Their logo was UV printed right onto the acrylic to create a colorful and unique Madden tournament trophy. Quite a few companies have ordered our custom made can trophies for food drive events. We’ve even done more toilet seat plaques than you can imagine. If you have an idea, sketch or concept, we will work with you to turn your vision into reality.