Both engraving and etching are techniques used to permanently render images in relief into wood, plastic, and metal plates. While engraving is done by removing material from the metal plate with a sharp instrument, like a stylus, a small grinding wheel or even laser engraving technology; etching is accomplished chemically, by using acid to remove material from the metal plate.
One of the main differences in the final results it that engravings have crisper and narrower lines, whereas the lines created through etching tend to be broader and fuzzier.
During the etching process, the artist or artisan must cover the metal plaque with wax and then use an etching needle to draw the design over the plaque, thus removing some parts of the wax that’s covering the metal. Afterward, the plaque is submerged into various acids, which will corrode the metal where the wax was previously removed. This will create a depression in the plaque that matches the design created by the artist. The last step is to remove the remains of the wax.
Usually, etching is used as a printing technique: the depressions in the metal are filled with ink that will be transferred to paper if pressure is applied. Although it’s efficient, this technique lacks a certain level of detail, as the control over the wax and acids is not high enough to be millimetric.
Engraving can be performed on plaques made out of different materials, ranging from metal to wood and even some plastics. To perform this process, the design must be cut directly into the metal with a graver, a burin, or laser. An engraved plaque also receives an acid bath, but only after the design is complete in order to remove any remains form the depressions. As with etching, engraving also works for printing, along with the proper ink application.
If printing simply won't give you the look and quality that you're looking for, engraved gifts and objects have many other uses. At Laser Engraved Memories, there are a wide range of etched and engraved options to choose from, including tribute plaque, a promotional items, and personalized gifts. Be sure to browse our galleries for more examples of our high-quality laser engraved objects that will meet your needs and exceed your expectations.
By Inês Raposo