High quality Crystal Awards personalized with custom engraving to recognize and celebrate your employees and leaders. Set the stage to create a memorable recognition experience with the finest optical crystal awards in the world! No other medium captures light and color so completely. We offer the highest quality k9 crystal, deep etched and branded to your specifications and delivered on time, every time, anywhere in the USA!
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The differences between laser engraving and abrasive etching on crystal awards are vast. Our process of deep abrasive etching is uncompromising in quality but necessary to create premium quality crystal awards. Here we explain both processes and why abrasive etching is far superior. Once the creation of artwork and proofing are completed the steps are vastly different with different end results.
For laser engraving the preparation and initial set-up is much quicker. The art to be engraved is positioned in the design software and the laser table is adjusted to obtain the proper distance from the lens. This brings the art in focus so that the convergence point of the beam is on the surface of the glass. The settings for power and speed are adjusted in the process control software and the file is sent.
Once the file has been sent, the laser is activated and a beam strikes the glass. Even though we call this engraving, the laser is actually reacting to the moisture trapped between the elements of silica and metal in the glass or crystal. Basically what is achieved are microscopic fractures of the glass which looks like “engraving”.
The overall quality is less than ideal and small artwork or reverse designs come out with questionable quality. Another drawback to laser engraving of crystal awards is the fact that the engraving area needs to be flat. There has to be clearance for the mirror and lens assembly as it travels back and forth without hitting other parts of the award. The laser process, while acceptable the majority of the time can disappoint occasionally. Its main attribute is that it is quick with much less set-up and preparation time resulting in a lower cost.
Abrasive etching, also known as sandblasting of crystal awards is capable of producing great detail in logos and quality resolution can be held down to 5 point characters in lettering. This is especially important when etching smaller faceted designs found in our premium k9 clear crystal awards collection. The sand etched process can even be used to create images with a 50 dpi halftone screen. It is a photographic process and the quality of etching reflects this accuracy and detail.
To begin the preparations to create your etched crystal award a film positive is made and inspected for opaqueness. After making sure that all lines are of a reproducible thickness the film is placed on an ultraviolet vacuum table exposure unit, a very thin mask which is basically a light sensitive diazo compound is placed above the UV lamp and film positive and a vacuum is applied to sandwich the film and mask together tightly. After exposure the mask is transferred to a washout station which sprays heated water on the mask to create a stencil that will later be applied to the award as an engraving template.
The next step has the crystal award being placed into the blast cabinet. At this time an experienced craftsman will use the blast wand which when activated will shoot a stream of aluminum oxide on to the award. Where the mask was not exposed by the uv light, the diazo washed away, leaving an area the blast media can contact the crystal award's surface. This is where the media being shot at high velocity hits the crystal surface slowly etching it.
The next step has the crystal trophy being placed in a large water tank to soften the mask for easy removal. The mask and tape are removed and the crystal award is dried and inspected. The final step is a thorough cleaning with glass cleaner and a final quality check for blast-offs, scratches or areas where the abrasive did not go through completely.
As you can see, the abrasive engraving is a much more time consuming process with many more steps and handling of the crystal trophy. However the end result is far superior to laser engraving. Understandably, the etched crystal process is more costly but we feel well worth the investment to reward and motivate those people who deserve an award.