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Decorating Glass: Sandblasting or Laser Etching?

Posted September 10, 2017 12:00 AM by Epilog Laser

When it comes to decorating glass, there is more than one method to choose from. A popular alternative to laser engraving is sandblasting. Both methods have their pros and cons; many shops that offer glass decorating use a combination of methods to achieve the best results.

Sandblasting uses a pressurized abrasive stream to etch into the glass surface, creating a deep and permanent mark. The mark is smooth and even, and allows for considerable intricacy of design. Sandblasting is labor-intensive: each glass item is prepped with a hand-applied film (also called a resist) and protective taping, blasted individually in a special cabinet, then rinsed clean of residue. Because of the equipment and labor involved, sandblasting tends to be a high-quality—but costly—method for decorating glass.

Laser engraving, by contrast, uses the laser like a writing instrument to vaporize the glass surface as it makes contact. This creates a micro-fracture that permanently marks the glass; not unlike sandblasting, the mark will have a frosted white appearance. A major advantage of using the laser for glass decorating is a reduction in both time and labor. It also does not require any additional special materials, such as sandblast resist film. The optional rotary attachment, available on most Epilog Laser systems, enables engraving to be performed all the way around the glass surface.

Image caption: Example mug designs. Stainless steel (left) created by sandblasting; black mugs (right) created by laser engraving. (Source: Laser Custom Creations)

Choosing the Best Method for the Project

Laser Custom Creations is a small shop that does about a 50/50 split between laser and sandblasting methods. According to co-owner Terry Larkin, a key consideration is budget. Larkin mentions that the owners of a craft brewery approached him for a price quote to put their logo on glassware. Larkin suggested sandblasting for its smooth finish. His quote came in much higher than a quote the brewery owners had received for laser engraving. Larkin created a prototype, with the logo sand-etched onto one side and laser-engraved onto the other. After seeing the difference, the owners decided to go the more expensive route. At the same time, Larkin’s shop produces a steady volume of awards that are done strictly with laser engraving. It’s a quicker process for the business and a less expensive option for the client. As awards are not a product that is regularly touched, the smoothness of sandblasting is less crucial.

Image caption: Photographic decoration applied to wine bottle via laser engraving. (Source: One Stop Awards)

Learn more about Epilog Laser and how the company is providing valuable services to a wide variety of industries.


Editor's note: This is a sponsored blog post from Epilog Laser.

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Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 10
#1

Re: Decorating Glass: Sandblasting or Laser Etching?

09/16/2017 5:29 AM

Why not use a laser to remove the resist instead of hand applying? Then sandblasting is less labor intensive. Since shops have both techs it would reduce the cost differential.

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Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Wilmington, NC (Hollywood East) - It WAS! THAT'S What happens when you elect idiots.
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#2

Re: Decorating Glass: Sandblasting or Laser Etching?

09/16/2017 10:39 PM

I feel quite sure that a person who gets quite a few of these will regard the resist's smoothness a differential very important, and would be sorely missed - like a baseball without seams or a football without laces. The cost of removing it will be covered by the accuracy when throwing them in the fireplace or, perhaps the bar mirror, wife, kids, but no animals, for PETA's sake!

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