By Terrence Dehring
While at the Awards and Recognition Association trade show in Las Vegas in February, we purchased an Ikonics Imaging sand carving machine. The process used to be called sand blasting, and was limited to simple etching, but now with advanced abrasives, masking materials, and techniques, it is more commonplace to offer multidimensional sand carved effects and integrate the use of color. At the trade show, several pieces of sand carved awards were displayed with varying degrees of complexity – many looked like and indeed were, works of art.
We have offered engraved glass as part of product lineup for years. The engraving of glass pieces has been done using one of our laser engravers. Lasers do a pretty good job of engraving glass, but the results are not always consistent or uniform. When lasers are used to etch glass, the laser beam enters the surface of the glass, heats it up, and blasts away pieces of the glass surface. So at the microscopic level, the result is rough and is dependent on the glass itself. Glass is not a uniform product and some parts may be denser than others. This density will affect the effectiveness of the laser to etch the glass. The less dense parts will etch deeper than the more dense parts. So after laser etching, some glass areas will show through as “spots” in the etched area. Re-engraving a second time will often, but not always, etch the more dense areas.
Using a sand carver on the other hand, has a different effect. At the microscopic level the abrasive, which is not sand, but is much harder than glass, actually wears away the glass. The result is a more uniform and very smooth surface. And if you go over the same area multiple times with the abrasive, it will etch the area deeper and deeper, allowing you to achieve stunning 3 dimensional effects. Overall, sand carved awards are a superior product and we are proud to offer this technique as standard with our glass and crystal awards.