Glass Engraving

Can you engrave, or etch, glass?

In a couple of words, absolutely YES!  In fact, here at Waterloo Engraving working with glass is one of our favourite things to do!  We’ve done all sorts of different glass products – wine glasses, scotch glasses, beer glasses, wine bottles, liquor bottles, glass awards, unusual gifts, glass vases, photo frames, and cookie jars just to name a few.

Can you bring your own glass for engraving, or do you have to buy from us?

We’re happy to work with you on your special project, either way.  If you’d like to bring in something of yours we’ll happily take a look to see how easy or challenging it could be, but if you’ve got an idea and would like us to source it for you, we’ve got lots of suppliers and can source something for you.

Be sure to see the “Glass Engraving 101” below for more details.

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Glass Engraving 101

How does glass engraving (aka glass etching) work?

If you think of an onion, what we’re basically doing is peeling away layers of existing material.  We’re not adding to the glass at all (like the way a laser inkjet printer adds ink to paper), what we’re doing is lasering out glass particles through a burning process with the laser.  It’s physically altering the glass itself so what we engrave will NEVER come out, it’s permanently there.

What lines of glassware do you carry?

We carry the full lines of Riedel, Anchor Hocking and Libbey – so you’ve got a wide variety of drinking, wine, scotch, whiskey, beer and everyday glassware.  We also carry a wide range of glass products as well – glass awards, trophies, gifts, vases, photo frames, cookie jars, and more.

Do different types of glass affect the engraving / etching?

Yes actually, the thickness of the glass, how long it’s been heat treated, and where it originates from changes our approach to the glass.  For example, a regular everyday Libbey drinking glass can take a fair bit of abuse – it’s thicker, produced in mass quantities (which makes for a better production run usually), usually has no air bubbles, and spins very nicely for engraving.  When it comes to something more delicate like a Riedel wine glass, we also have to be more delicate.  These wine glasses are thinner (which makes them more troublesome with the heat of the laser), they usually come in a variety of shapes which affects the area we can engrave, and sometimes (because they’re thinner) air bubbles can be in the glass which will cause them to shatter in the laser.  Thankfully though, in all the years we’ve been engraving glass, it’s only happened a handful of times.

What colour does engraving glass produce?

Whenever you engrave glass the colouring always comes out white.  If you’ve seen glasses where there’s full colour on them (ie. fancy beer glasses) that’s not engraving, that’s a process called pad printing.  When you engrave glass, the etching is permanent; but when you pad-print glass that colouring can come off over time, so engraving is a superior method.  When we engrave glass there’s also no minimum required, well, actually, the minimum is one, just one.  But, when you start talking pad printing glasses, there’s usually a minimum order of 100 or 250 depending on what you’re looking for.

Is there a size limit to what can be engraved on glass?

Yes, there’s actually two limits, the first being a size limit, the second being a weight limit.  We can’t put anything on the laser that weights more than 50 pounds.  From there, our laser bed size is 32″ x 20″ but we do have a pass through that can be utilized.  So, suppose you have a mirror, glass door, large photo frame that you would like done, so long as it’s not any wider than 32″, we should be able to do it.  Please contact us if you have an oversize piece of glass.

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