To understand the process of engraving, you must understand the methods used in this process. These methods of engraving help you understand the process and the results to expect. There are visible processes that your eyes see when you watch others engrave cone-shaped and there are the non-visible processes that work inside the equipment.
The different methods of engraving
- Diamond Drag (scratch) Engraving – This is a popular method with most companies like the PBS Engraving Inc. It uses a non-rotating tool with a cone shaped diamond tip that is dragged with a lot of pressure through metal, leaving an impression. The diamond drag creates quality engraving that when compared to hand engraving, its width is constant and does not vary much in depth. Diamond drag is recommended for soft metals like aluminum, brass, silver, gold, and pewter. It is suitable for engraving jewelry, trophies and awards. Its benefits include:
- It is the fastest form of engraving.
- Its width of stroke allows for small engraved letters to be clearly seen.
- It is the least expensive method of engraving.
- It has a great eye appeal.
- It does not require an engraving motor.
- This method allows a wide variety of objects to be engraved.
- It is a quiet method and can therefore be used in quiet environments.
- It is the easiest form of engraving and requires less training.
The drawbacks of this engraving method include:
- Limited stroke width
- Cannot be used with soft materials like plastics
- Burnishing method – This method uses a rotating tool with limited pressure, either a diamond cutter or carbide of different tip width, to remove the top coating or layer of material that results in a polished smooth finish. Where diamond drag is used, the burnishing method can be substituted in most applications. Diamond burnishing is used specifically when cutting glass. For many new engraving shops, burnishing is still a new process that has not been explored by many. The benefits of using this method include:
- It produces virtually unlimited stroke width.
- Larger letter heights are achieved using this method.
- It is excellent on plaques and trophies.
This method has its own drawbacks that include:
- It is an expensive method with tools retailing at over $20.
- It is very noisy as it requires an engraving motor for it to run.
- It requires the addition of a burnishing adapter to work right.
- The rotary engraving method – This method uses a single or multiple fluted cutting tools that rotates through the work to remove the material leaving a trough of exposed core. This method results in deep cutting or the complete cut out of a letter or object. The width of the cut is determined by the cutter’s tip size. The spindle micrometer settings control the cut and its depth. This method is best used on heavy commercial and industrial work. The benefits of this method include:
- It is the most permanent form of engraving.
- It allows the engraver to cut into plastics, wood, ferrous and non-ferrous metals.
- It can achieve the 2D and 3D dimensional appearances.
- It can virtually make any letter size either routed or cut out that is limited only by the size of the engraving equipment. .
The drawbacks of this method include:
- It requires a wider selection of cutting tools
- It requires a rotary spindle and engraving motor to work which makes it noisy
- It requires cleanup after engraving to remove any chips.