Sub Surface Engraving FAQs

Posted on 8th June 2016

Ever wanted to know how to get 3D images inside of products or how to float your logo within an optical crystal block?  Find the answers to these, and other frequently asked questions, here.  If you don’t see the information you need, or have a new question to ask, drop us a line and we’ll get back to you.

What is sub surface engraving?

Sub surface is a method of decorating crystal that allows you to recreate an image, text or logo within an item.  Traditional engraving is performed on the surface of a product but, using laser technology, sub surface engraving creates the image inside the product leaving the surface completely untouched.  Because sub surface is within the item it’s possible to create three dimensional images (with suitable artwork) and add depth to text and logos making them more dynamic.

Why should I choose 3D?

A three dimensional item inside a piece of glass or crystal looks stunning.  When you want to create a lasting impression with your gift or awards, giving a 3D engraving certainly fits the bill.  The items can be as simple as a logo and text up to a realistic representation of a complex engine, vintage car or an architects drawing of a skyscraper – the only limit is your imagination.

What’s better about your subsurface engraving?

We’ve upgraded our in-house machines and given our staff extra training to make sure your subsurface products are engraved with shorter lead times and even higher precision than ever before.  The new lasers are more precise, as you can see in the photos before, so there’s a higher contrast between areas of light and dark, making your images appear more crisp.  Furthermore, the way the lasers are set up means we can now engrave items with just one flat size, rather than being restricted to the blocks and cubes we’ve engraved in the past.

What products can be engraved?

There are only two real restrictions on what can be engraved;

  1. The item must have at least one flat side
  2. The thickness of the material on the flat side can be no larger than 49mm

Take a look at our social media for ideas on how you can use sub surface with your products or ask for a comprehensive list of products from the current catalogue that can be engraved.

Can you combine it with other decoration techniques?

Yes.  We’ll advise you on the best combinations for the artwork and the products you are using.  For inspiration read this blog on combining decoration techniques.

How does sub surface engraving actually work?

In short and simple terms sub surface engraving is achieved through the fracturing of small areas of glass or crystal using lasers.  We use two lasers which, on their own, pass straight through the clear glass.  Our lasers are angled and where they meet their combined power causes the fracture, creating a tiny dot inside the item.  By building up these dots in layers we create the overall image.  The place where the lasers meet is controlled by computer which reads the dimensions from your artwork.

Can you engrave my text and logo in 3D?

The most common way we engrave text and logos is in 2D.  You can create a 3D effect by stretching the images to give them some depth – think of the Hollywood sign and you’ll be able to picture what we mean.  If you want to change the depth of text etc., just let the team know but if you’re happy to leave us with the dimensions and we’ll create it at a depth that suits the product being engraved.

Can you recreate photos in 3D?

It really depends on the photos and the subject.  To recreate an item from photos we need high quality images of the subject in all 6 plains (the four sides plus the view from above and below).  This does tend to mean we can’t recreate living beings or landscapes; it works better with things like mechanical components and other inanimate objects.  Our in-house artists will then redraw all the images and combine them into a three dimensional image.  If you’re not sure if your chosen subject can be depicted in 3D just send us the images you have and we’ll let you know.

I don’t have 3D artwork, does that matter?

Not really, although it does make the process a lot quicker (and therefore cheaper).  We have a full team of artists in house who are trained in turning 2D into 3D images.  If you do have to send over 2D images for transformation, then it helps us if they in the following formats; vector, .eps, .ai or .svg.

What types of 3D artwork files do you need?

The best files for us are .FBX, .DXF, .OBJ, .STL or .3DS.  We can convert other 3D formats if you have those.  Send us what you have and we’ll let you know if it’s possible.

Do you send out 3D proofs?

Our standard proofs are in two dimensions bu angled, and with several views, so you can see the 3D effect.  If you want a 3D proof we can send you a self-extracting file so you don’t need to have any special software on your machine, or download anything from the web.  Once you open the file you’ll be able to click and rotate the image in any direction so you can see the complete 360 view.

What does sub surface engraving cost?

Unfortunately there isn’t a set cost for sub surface engraving.  It all depends on the product being engraved and the image being engraved into it.  To get a quote send us your requirements and we’ll get back to you with a price.

Is there a minimum order quantity (MOQ)?

No.  We can engrave single items but you will benefit from economies of scale if you order multiple items.

What’s the lead time for sub surface engraving?

Our standard lead time is 7 days from approval of artwork, a significant improvement on a process that used to take up to 12 weeks!  If you need your items quicker than that we can do express orders in as little as 72 hours depending on the artwork and numbers involved.

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