Awards & Engraving

January '18

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In the early days of imprinting glass and crystal, decorating was limited to one process: etching or sandcarving. Since that time, an evolution of technology has given consumers and manufacturers a wide variety of high-quality imprint options. The three most common ways to etch crystal and glass are called the "classics" and include sandcarving, laser engraving, and liquid (acid) etching. However, because of advances in technology, we can also add 3D subsurface laser engraving and sublimation to this list. THE CLASSICS Let's start by reviewing the classic forms of decoration mentioned above: sandcarving, laser engraving, and liquid (acid) etching. Sandcarving produces the highest quality of imprint and in some cases is the only option. The sandcarving pro- cess replicates your customer's artwork with a smooth and precise etch. It can handle a high degree of fine detail and accentuates the true beauty of a crystal award beautifully. Using pressurized air, a special type of sand is blasted at very high pressure directly onto crystal. This process produces a deep etch that showcases a personalized message or decorative art. Perfecting the sandcarving process takes time and expertise. The small nuances of this craft ensure that the layers of the crystal are blasted away evenly and perfectly, and can only be learned through trial and error. As with all good things, there are always a few cons; however, in this instance, the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. Sandcarving requires that you have the right equipment, masking materials, and expertise. It is necessary to create a mask to protect the area that should not be sand- carved. Today it is easier than ever before to make masks yourself. However, some manufacturers still prefer to outsource this process to a vendor who specializes in mask-making. Laser engraving is also one of the clas- sics. Generally speaking, laser engraving is better suited for materials like wood or metal, but it can be applied to glass and A&E JANUARY 2018 • 55

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