People often use the terms “etching” and “engraving” interchangeably, but the fact is that while they do have some similarities, they are quite different processes.
The main similarity is that in most applications today, both use laser technology to get the job done. Lasers work by emitting a beam of coherent light through an optical amplifier. There are gas lasers, solid state lasers, diode lasers, fiber lasers, dye lasers and excimer lasers, and which one you select depends largely on the type of job you have in store. Many consumer products use laser technology, including Blu-Ray and DVD players, bar code scanners and much more beyond the world of manufacturing.
However, it is primarily manufacturing we are thinking about when considering laser etching and engraving. As monument makers in Walterboro, SC, we frequently use these technologies to create monuments such as headstones, plaques and grave markers. Let’s take a closer look at some of the advantages of these two technologies and the differences between them.
There are a variety of advantages associated with engraving. For starters, it’s a very quick process—material is rapidly vaporized, meaning you can complete jobs one after another very efficiently. This is thanks to the high levels of heat created during the process, which make the vaporization possible.
It’s also a relatively easy task to learn and master. Forming deeper marks with the laser engraver simply requires you to make several passes. The first pass produces a cavity in the surface that is noticeable both to the eye and to the touch, so you don’t have to worry about it being difficult to retrace your steps.
When paired with other technologies, engraving provides an outstanding level of efficiency, repeatability and speed. You can engrave metals, stone, plastic, wood, leather, glass and acrylic.
The aim with etching is similar to that of engraving, in that you are seeking to create lines and crevices below the surface of the material. Laser etching is a specific type of engraving, in which the heat that emanates from the laser beam causes the surface of the material to melt away. Laser etching usually has a much smaller depth to it, which makes it a more viable option for thinner materials and much smaller, finer projects, like jewelry.
The biggest advantage of etching, then, is that you can save a whole lot of material, because of how fine of a process it is. It is extremely precise, and can be used for a wide variety of different materials in a quick, cost effective and durable manner.
If you’re interested in learning more about these two types of cutting and the various benefits of each, we encourage you to contact the experts Steedley Monument Works today. Our team of monument makers in Walterboro, SC would be happy to also tell you specifically about how we use these processes in making our monuments and what we suggest for you as you decide on the kind of monument you wish to purchase.