Starting With Quality Artwork
Using our extensive digital design skills and software, we ensure every engraved piece is coupled with the best artwork! It's best to ensure you supply the best quality files beforehand, but don't worry if not. Whether we have Cap badges, photocopies or even internet links as a starting point we can redraw a wide range of media to an acceptable standard for engraving. Find out more about our guidelines and redraw services here.
Once we have acceptable digital artwork, this is then printed out onto special, high quality, translucent vellum paper.
Making Glass Sandblasting Stencils
We utilise a light-sensitive film to make the stencils (called 'masks', because they mask-out areas of glass not requiring to be sandblasted).
The printed vellum is placed over the light-sensitive film and exposed to light, using an ultraviolet light tube. This ensures a fast exposure, which for technical reasons, ensures the crisp lines stay crisp. See Fig 1 (below).
The film requires washing out and drying, to rid it of the parts previously protected by the black ink on the vellum paper (the design and text to be engraved), before it can be used for sandblasting.
The A4 sheet contains several glass sandblasting stencils ('masks') and is cut up into individual stencils. If there are 100 glasses to engrave, 100 stencils are manufactured. They are not re-useable. See Fig 2 (below).
Applying Glass Sandblasting Stencils
To apply the stencil and ensure it is correctly lined up, a variety of tools are used. First, we ensure they are working to a line parallel to the desk surface, by engaging a home made gauge to draw a line on the glass. See Fig 3 (below).
A Burnisher is used to firm down the stencil on the glass. After a carrier film is removed, a Wire Brush is rolled over the top of the mask, to burst any bubbles between the stencil and glass. See Fig 4 (below).
Having applied the stencil, ensuring it is lined up with the mark on the glass, burnished it down, removed the carrier film and pricked all the holes, they then need to protect the exposed glass with sandblast-resistant tape. See Figs 5 & 6 (below).
The glass is then placed inside a sandblasting cabinet. A very narrow jet of fine aluminium oxide is blasted against the stencil. Line by line, the nozzle passes over the entire area containing design and words, hovering long enough to ensure the engraving is deep. See Fig 7 (below).
Once we have inspected the finished work, the stencil and tape is torn from the glass, washed in warm, soapy water and polished. See Fig 8 (below).