Metal Engraving 101
What types of engraving can you do with metal?
There are two types of engraving that we can use – laser engraving (depending on the type and finish of metal), and rotary engraving (what we like to call “old school” that everyone remembers). Having said that, if you happen to have THE Stanley Cup trophy, that is (or, at least it used to be) engraved by hand with a small hand-held device.
What is each type of engraving used for?
Laser Engraving is the standard today, it gives us the ability to engrave pretty much anything – fonts, logos, and some other images, but not really photographs. We can engrave to as thin as a laser beam, so you can get some REALLY detailed pieces, just checkout the black water bottle with “Bogdan” on it in our picture gallery. We can laser any font that’s on your computer (or on ours, we have a few thousand fonts to choose from), as well as any vector art based image – like logos and pictures. When we engrave, any logo has to be in a black and white format without greyscale to work properly. If you don’t have a vector based black and white version of your artwork, let us know and we can help.
Rotary Engraving is what people generally remember first, because a lot of schools continue to use rotary engraving on some of their annual plaques / awards today. Also, if you go into the mall and hit the local gift shop that does engraving, those types of stores always do rotary engraving because the equipment is far less expensive than laser engraving machines. Rotary engraving does have its limitations because you’re really limited in font options, and trying to rotary any logos or images is just out of the question.
Do different metal types affect engraving?
Not necessarily, no, but how the metal is finished (ie. is it raw metal, coated, painted?) plays a larger part. We’ve got lots of engravable metal here for products and services we do every day (like building plaques), and we can make suggestions on promotional products like metal water bottles, pens, and more.
Can you colour metal engraving?
Well, you can, but that colour is always black, and it’s only done with uncoated raw stainless steel. Otherwise, if you’re doing (as an example) a blue water bottle, what we’re going to do is peel the blue off, and you’ll see the silver aluminum or stainless underneath.
Does the type of metal affect the cost of engraving?
Yes, there are generally 3 categories of metal that affects pricing – (1) raw stainless steel, (2) coated / painted metal of any kind, and (3) raw other metals.
Raw Stainless Steel is the most expensive type of metal to engrave, not because of the engraving process, but because of the product that we have to use to make it engravable. You see, with stainless steel we have to put a thermal marking product on it, which is what gets engraved into the stainless steel and creates the black engraving that everyone has come to know and love. The trick is, the thermal marking product isn’t cheap – it comes to us in a can about the size of an old pop can, at the low, low, price of $250 per can. Because of this, the moment you’re talking stainless steel, you’re instantly making the engraving cost double, triple, or more depending on the size of your piece.
Any painted metal product doesn’t require the thermal marking product, so it’s just straight engraving time. This is the most ideal way to go.
If you’ve got another metal (ie. raw aluminum) that’s not stainless steel, and not coated, then we simply can’t laser engrave that type of metal. The thermal marking product is really only guaranteed to work with stainless steel, so we can’t guarantee that other types of metals will work with it. So, because we can’t laser these types of metals, then the only type of engraving available to you is rotary engraving.
Is there a size limit to what metal can be engraved?
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, so if you’ve got a car you would like engraved, I’m afraid we can’t do that. 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 an 4 foot tall door you would like done (which we have 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 metal.