Chemical Etching vs General Engraving vs Laser Marking

Chemical Etching vs General Engraving vs Laser Marking


Knowing the difference between these processes, as well as which best suits your requirements can sometimes be tricky to navigate. Yes they can all achieve permanent marks on to metal, but each process is very different, as are the results which can be achieved using them.

Chemical Etching:

The use of chemicals to create a deep durable mark on to sheet metals such as steel, brass and copper. By applying a “resist” coating to the areas you do not want to be etched, any areas then exposed to the chemicals will be eaten away during the etching process. 

This is one of the most cost effective manufacturing processes – due to the preparation of the sheet metals, this allows for multiple designs per sheet. Designs can be basic or complex (as well as containing variable data) and it will have no effect on the duration of the actual etching process.

Unlike some engraving processes, chemical etching leaves a smooth, burr and cutter-mark free finish – almost like a fine sand blast, and the unexposed metal keeps its original finish. When using a brushed or mirror finish it can create some truly stunning results. 

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General Engraving:

Sometimes reverting to traditional works best – the versatility of this type of engraving enables detailed patterns and small type to be engraved at depth on to flat and curved surfaces with the ability to create fine, intricate detail at an unbeatable depth.

This process works for both large and small scale, either leaving upstanding brass, or engraving away patterns and text. Although a more timely process, the beauty of engraving is its application to a variety of substrates, both sheet and block metal as well as customer supplied free issue parts. Cutter marks are always visible due to the nature of the process, combine with traditional enamel infill for an extremely durable finish.

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Laser Marking:

Known as many things such as laser marking, laser engraving and laser etching – this has to be our most popular in house process. Its versatility aides its popularity with options to permanently mark a huge variety of substrates including metals as well as customer supplied free issue parts. Suited to both flat and 3D shaped complex parts.

Laser marking is very cost effective – it offers speed combined with accuracy and the ability to deliver the highest level of detail as well as variable data – including serialisation, barcodes and QR codes. We also offer 360 degree rotary laser marking for cylindrical products such as tubes and bottles.

Laser marking barely alters the surface it marks – leaving a totally smooth finish on to almost all metals – particularly popular for marking free issue parts as well as measurement and inspection devices where tolerance and accuracy are critical. The set up for this process is minimal and therefore perfect for both short and long runs as well as one offs.

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Chemical Etching vs General Engraving vs Laser Marking