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22 a-e-mag.com • A&E MAY 2017 M etal has long been a popular substrate to mark in the awards and engraving industry. There are a variety of metals that are durable and offer a nice look to an awards product. Aside from being a great option for a plaque plate or name badge, metal also fulfills many industrial needs. From bar- codes to serial numbers, industrial cus- tomers often need metal marked to fulfill government requirements. There are a variety of ways to mark this substrate: sublimation, rotary engraving and even sandcarving. But perhaps the most popular way to mark metal is using a laser engraving machine. Laser engraving yields a variety of different looks and is a fast, reliable way to mark metal substrates. Following, experts dissect metal marking, taking a specific look at laser engraving, and offer ways for awards retailers to effi- ciently and effectively do so. OTHER OPTIONS Before diving into laser methods, it's important to be aware of the other decorating technologies available for metal. Sublimation is one process that's exploding across multiple products, and metal is no exception. "Sublimation is a simple process using ink transfer paper and a heat press," Jose Lopez, ID Plates, says. "Different metals transfer heat in different ways, so some experimentation is needed to get the right transfer depending on the metal and material thickness." He goes on to explain that once you have the process dialed in, sublimation is an easy way to produce great-looking metal projects. Aside from sublimation, one can also use a rotary machine, sandcarving or even screen printing to personalize metal. While all offer different benefits, Lopez believes that the most popular options for retailers are engraving (rotary or laser) and sublimation. WHY LASERS? With a few different options available to mark metal, one might wonder why laser engraving and marking is so ideal. The answer is two-fold: laser machines are efficient and users can achieve beautiful results on a variety of metals with them. Let's start with a look at the actual sub- strate. "Brass is a popular metal (to mark) By Cassie Green Metal Masters VARIOUS ASPECTS OF MARKING METAL IMAGE COURTESY ID PLATES Metal yields unique results that are eye-catching to the customer, which is why awards retailers should be well-versed in various forms of marking this substrate.