Laser engraving – Glass

Laser engraved stemware - Bliss Bridal logo

Laser engraved stemware with the Bliss Bridal logo

Well made objects created from glass have a certain elegance.  It could be the translucence.  It could be the feel.  It could be the shape.  No matter what it is that draw us in, it is, these objects often take their places in our lives as useful, beautiful items.

Glass items come in many different forms.  You may have a nice vase for flowers.  You may have a wine glass that reminds you of good times with friends and family.  Whatever the form, these objects, although sometimes elegant, are often plain.  How can you personalize these items to reflect your personality and style while making them unmistakably yours?  One answer is laser engraving.

Laser engraving works very well on most forms of glass.  When the laser strikes the glass, it fractures the top layer, resulting in a frosted appearance.  The result is similar to sand blasting (but not as deep) or acid etching (but without the chemicals).  Being computer controlled, the laser engraving process is very accurate and repeatable.  Because of that, if you want a set of twelve identical white wine glasses for that special Christmas party you are planning, laser engraving may be your best choice.

Laser engraved glass at 40x and 100x magnification - 1pt text

Laser engraved glass. The text is 1pt which is 1/72 inches tall

Laser engraved glass at 40x and 100x magnification - 2pt text

Laser engraved glass. The text is 2pt which is 1/31 inches tall

Laser engraved glass at 40x and 100x magnification - 3pt text

Laser engraved glass. The text is 3pt which is 3/72 inches tall

The shape of the glass object is often important to you and the function of the item.  Few people want to drink wine from a plain, square glass.  We like the items in our lives to be curved, flowing, and visually appealing.  For those reasons and others, many of the glass items we use are not only round but curved in two dimensions, much like a wine glass or champagne flute.

Diagram of beam focus

Diagram of beam focus

While many laser engravers are equipped to engrave glass that is round and curved, there are are limits to what most lasers can do. Many laser engravers operate with a single focus setting.  What that means to you is the laser will only stay focused for a small portion of the curved areas of the item.  Consider an orange.  A laser engraver would work great engraving your name or other message around the middle or a particular point, but as the design gets taller along the length of the orange (along the line in which it is rotating), the laser begins to get out of focus and the design gets blurry.  To what extent the blurriness starts and how severe it is depends on the laser.

Along with the focus constraints, a laser engraving designer must consider the shape of the beam in the curved areas.  By the time the design gets to the curved areas of the object, such as an orange or wine glass, the circular shape of the beam looks more like an egg when it strikes the object.  To get a better visual image of this, think about the shape that a flashlight beam is when directed directly at a wall or the ground.  The shape is round or very close.  When directed at that same surface but at an angle, the shape of the beam becomes egg-shaped or more oval, depending on the angle.  This effect also results in blurry or unsatisfactory images.  While a good designer will take this into account when creating the design and engraving the item, there are limits.

Overall, engraving glass with a laser engraver often results in a beautiful item that you can display proudly.  Other glass items that can be laser engraved include mirrors, Christmas ornaments, jars or other similar containers, and bottles of all shapes and functions.  If you have any further questions, please contact a laser engraver in your area or sent me an e-mail and I will do my best to help.

(Champagne flute created for Bliss Bridal in Fairhope, AL)

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