Sign & Digital Graphics

August '16

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ARCHITECTURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL 72 • August 2016 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S T here are numerous ways to etch or engrave on glass, but laser, paired with a rotary attachment, has become the industry standard. Laser engraving machines have come down in price and they come in many different sizes. They are user- friendly, acting like any printer except that when you design in the graphics software and hit print, they engrave instead. Epilog Laser has been in business since 1988, "so we have a lot of experience when it comes to how a person uses our laser systems," says Ben Sieber, the Engraving glass with lasers or sand carving B Y P A U L A A V E N G L A D Y C H Paula Aven Gladych is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado. She can be reached at Golden, Colorado, company's senior graphic designer. The firm's laser systems feature different settings that vary per unit, and wattages that help get the opti- mum contrast in mark when engraving with glass. Epilog put together a tutorial that tells potential users of its laser engravers how to set up the artwork to make the best contrast while engraving. "You can vary the contrast of the mark based on how gray or how dark of a gray you are using. Basically, each shape is a different color gray," Sieber says. He points out that the laser is actually micro frac- turing the glass rather than engraving it. By varying the amount of heat and pressure, the laser can create a three-dimensional look. "If you look at the mark up close, you will see tiny fractures that give you that acid etch look," he says. The artwork and its color scheme determine how deep or how lightly the laser will etch the glass. Black on the artwork translates to bright white on the etch- ing because the dots are closer together, while gray is a lighter white because it spreads out the amount of dots the laser burns into the glass. "This is one of the neater effects you can do when engraving glass with a laser. One of the other things that is nice about using a laser on glass is there are no additional steps. With our laser and the right settings, we are able to engrave the surface. We don't have to surface prep or add masking materials," Sieber says. Adding a rotary attachment allows a shop to engrave cylindrical objects like cups, pitchers, mugs and wine bottles. In using a rotary attachment, you send your image to the laser like you normally would but now the rotary attachment rotates the item at small increments. The type of glass used is very important. Kurt Koser of Koser Enterprises Inc. in Morgan Hill, California, is a GCC laser distributor. He refers to glass as "the great unknown" when it comes to laser engraving. As a medium, every type of glass reacts dif- Engraved glass provides a classy appearance to all sorts of products, and it's a great way to supplement the workload of your laser engraver. (Photo courtesy of Trotec) Clear Path to Profits G L A S S E N G R A V I N G

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