Improvements Lasers Bring to Engraving

Barry Zaragoza
Feb 23, 2018 · 2 min read

Stone, metal, clay, and wood have been engraved for centuries. Rudimentary engraving in caves was done with sharp rocks or bone. Traditional hand tools include knives of various shapes and thicknesses, a burin, and Florentine liners, among others. A burin is made of hard steel and still used for small designs, lettering, and details.

Florentine liners are flat-bottom tools that have multiple lines incised into them. These allow for fast fill work, or placing patterns on large surfaces. Electric hand tools are also available. Master engravers today continue to do engraving with hand tools. Engraving machines are used commercially for lettering, serial numbers, and mass production of engraved items.


Engraving with traditional tools takes a long time. That means items are labor-intensive and expensive. Gorgeous work that is one-of-a-kind is worth a higher price. The process is simply impractical for commercial use.

Engraving machines are faster than traditional methods, but most only engrave slightly into a surface. Fading occurs, lettering can be worn off jewelry over time, and serial numbers can be sanded off. This process is fine for trophies, decor, name plates, and other items that will not be handled often.


The introduction of the laser engraver elevates the industry to a whole new level. Precision and consistency are now possible because the laser is operated by computer. The process does not rely on the human hand so mass production and exquisite detail is uniform. A laser cuts deeper into the surface so there is no fading.


The multitude of laser engraving applications ranges from industrial uses to personal use at home. The ability to make products faster, more precise, and cheaper lowers prices on any engraved items. Due to the speed of a laser, engraving is possible on more materials than traditional engraving accommodates. Engraving machines without lasers produce too much heat for materials such as paper, plastics, and medical-grade alloys.

So, exactly what can you laser engrave with a laser engraver? The answer is just about everything. Glass, rubber stamps, fabrics, acrylics and plastics, leather, wood, metal, paper, and jewelry, among others. The newest laser engravers are desk top models that are affordable. Artists, hobbyists, and people who enjoy crafts are now able to expand their creativity and try new approaches to finishing projects.

At home laser engraving ideas from users allow people to make more products faster. Some are using the engravers to make custom decor for the house or garden. They are saving money by creating unique and innovative items instead of paying high prices for them. People who build models are experimenting with the speed and size settings to explore different outcomes.

Barry Zaragoza

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Even the best laser engraver gets dirty once in a while, and like other machines, a clean engraver yields better results.