Exploring Different Types of Engraving

Exploring Different Types of Engraving

Have you ever wondered if there's more than one type of engraving?


When the word engraving is mentioned, the immediate mental image might be of a trophy or a perceptual plaque commonly seen in military offices. Perhaps you envision an old man wearing a green eyeshade visor, diligently engraving jewelry with a tool. While these images might be true in rare instances, they are more likely from times past.


In today’s modern world, engravings come in many types, but they generally fall within one of two categories: rotary and laser. It's crucial not to confuse these engraving methods with traditional CNC machines, as the latter technically involves carving. Let's delve into and learn a bit about both methods.


Are you a traditionalist?


Rotary engraving is, for all intents and purposes, the original or traditional style of engraving. This method can employ various tools, such as a Dremel or other rotary tools, a graver, or even a sharp object and a hammer/mallet. In rotary engraving, the substrate or item to be engraved has the design cut, hammered, or scraped into it, leaving a score. This creates an engraving that extends slightly below the surface. A professional engraver may take a few days to a week or more to complete a project using this method. While projects completed with rotary engraving often involve words, some machines and exceptional engravers can produce limited designs. This process demands extreme skill and precision from the engraver. Although the final engraving is permanent, it can be sanded down a few millimeters to remove the engraving, potentially damaging the item.


Step into the future!


The other type of engraving, which we at Patriot Laser Artistry use, is laser engraving. This method starts at the computer, where the engraver creates the design. Thanks to computer technology, the possibilities range from simple text in any font to highly detailed images. Once the design is ready, it is sent to the laser engraving machine through a file transfer with specific settings for the substrate. The work is then aligned, and the laser begins the process. Depending on several variables, laser engraving can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours. Laser engravers are not limited to scoring the material; they can also cut and create wider and thicker marks. The final product can include surface-level markings, very shallow subsurface markings, or very deep markings, depending on the engraver's settings. While laser engravers don't require the steady hand or extreme skill of traditional methods, they demand vast experience in knowing which materials can and can't be engraved, understanding the settings for those materials, in-depth knowledge of design software, and the ability to troubleshoot a laser machine at a moment’s notice.


Now that you're familiar with both rotary and laser engraving, we at Patriot Laser Artistry are confident that you'll agree: laser engraving surpasses rotary in terms of speed, accuracy, and the options it provides. If you're interested in a particular engraving or want to see what Patriot Laser Artistry can create for you using our lasers, please feel free to reach out to us.

Back to blog