laser etched dog bowl

Etching

From corporate swag to personalized gifts, laser etching is quickly gaining in popularity.

But while everyone and their vinyl cutters know that personalized and custom items are the way to go, exactly what is etching and how does it work?

And why would you choose custom etching in the first place?

Laser etching is incredibly accurate, highly detailed, and permanent. It’s a great way to make a long-lasting impression on almost any type of material - as well as the important people in your life!

Here at Etchified, we are all about etching. But to help you better understand what etching is, here is your complete guide:

What is Etching?

Laser etching is a highly versatile process that melts the surface of a product in order to create a customized mark. 

To produce a mark, a laser beam focuses a high amount of energy on a small area, causing the material to melt and expand. As a result, the surface is colored black, white, or shades of grey.

Laser etching works by utilizing a laser beam that is pulsed and releases bursts of energy at specific intervals.

To give you an example: Within one second, a laser etching machine can release 100,000 pulses and each pulse contains 1 millijoule of energy!

When this beam hits the surface of an item, the material absorbs the energy and converts it to heat, absorbing just enough to melt the micro surface and cause it to expand.

As the material quickly melts and cools down, changes occur on the surface and an etched design appears.

The process is not stagnant and is optimized for each application. This ensures that a high-quality etch is created for individual requirements.

Laser etching is a popular choice when it comes to placing permanent markings on promotional and customizable items such as Yeti tumblers, jewelry, and more!

What Does the Process Look Like?

The first step in laser etching is to come up with an idea! As long as an image or text can be produced with three tones of color (black, grey, and white), it can be etched.

The image and text are then designed using computer software associated with the laser etching machine.

The chosen material is then placed in the machine and the proper settings are chosen including the strength of the laser, the depth of the cut, the speed, line thickness, and other factors.

After that, a button is pushed and the laser etching machine goes to work!

Etching vs Engraving

There are some notable differences between laser etching and laser engraving.

Laser etching is a faster method of customizing items but laser engraving is more durable. This is because laser etching causes the material to reach its melting point and requires less energy to vaporize it (which is how etching works).

However, laser engraving does have better protection against abrasions but it only creates black marks. It works by cutting a cavity through the material’s surface, creating an image that is noticeable to the touch and at eye level.

Laser etching can't be used to create high-contrast marks but it can be employed in combination with engraving to produce high-contrast engravings.

Laser etching can also be achieved faster than engraving but the actual speed of the process depends on the type of material, the size of the image, and the color of the etching (etching white marks takes less time than black ones).

Overall, etching is better than engraving unless you are looking for a customized look that is more resistant to abrasion. 

The Advantages of Etching

  • Precise
  • Faster process
  • Can be done on a wide variety of materials
  • Durable

What Can Be Etched?

There is a wide variety of materials that can be etched with a laser! This versatile process can be used with almost any metal, including (but not limited to):

  • Stainless steel
  • Aluminum
  • Steel
  • Zinc
  • Anodized Aluminum

Custom etching can also be performed on materials such as leather, marble, plastic, tile, and glass.

As far as the products you can etch go, there is a wide variety here as well. Etchified offers laser etching to customize items such as jewelry, drinkware, pet dishes, pet tags, and more!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have more questions? We have answers! Check out these frequently asked questions:

(And don’t forget to get in touch with us if you have more!)

Do etched items need any special care?

Nope! Etched items can be used as normal and have no special requirements.

Can you add color to etched items?

Unfortunately, the laser process does not allow for the addition of color because it works by removing a thin layer of material to create a durable and permanent design.

So exactly what colors can be etched with a laser?

Laser etching can create designs using black, white, and shades of grey. While black and white do offer the best contrast, grey can be used for more detailed designs.

On a technical and interesting note, white is created by diffusing the reflections of the laser while black requires absorption of the laser.

Is laser etching permanent?

Yes! Laser etching is permanent but it does have its limitations. Treatments that involve abrasives such as shot blasting and sandblasting can remove laser-etched marks.

Custom Etching: Personalized Gifts

So while laser etching can be used in a variety of industries on a variety of materials, it has become a popular choice for creating personalized gifts!

There’s no mistaking that personalized gifts are the best gifts and custom etching is a great way to celebrate a number of important occasions such as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, housewarmings, retirement, graduation, and more!

Personalized gifts are unique and make people feel special. They resonate with people’s emotions and show them how much they mean to you.

And because custom etching is so versatile, you can personalize so many different items to suit the gift recipient’s needs and tastes.

Custom Etching: Business Swag

Many businesses have unlocked the key to meaningful and successful advertising: 

Custom swag!

You can easily boost your business by handing out custom and inexpensive items such as earbuds, coffee mugs, phone cases, and so much more.

Not only will it create brand awareness for your business but it will also help convert customers and strengthen your relationships with current clients.

Ready to Get Etched?

At Etchified, we are passionate about custom products!

It was this passion that led us to find a better way to offer durable and custom etching so that people could buy personalized items without a hassle.

From no minimum orders to real-time previews, we have created a process where you can get exactly what you want and only pay for what you see.

Now that we’ve answered the question, “What is etching?” we invite you to take a look at our product catalog or get in touch with us if you have any questions.

And we thank you for supporting a small, family-run business!