The future is now, thanks to science! In a world with flying cars, holographic movies, and self-tying sneakers, the sky’s the limit! Wait, what do you mean those don’t exist yet?

Alright, you got us, we’re talking about Back to the Future Part 2. But technology has come a long way in the real world, and one such application for this is laser engraving. But that begs a whole different question.

What is laser engraving, and what makes it tick?

Search no longer! We’re here to tell you all the facts you need to know about custom laser engraving and the weird science behind it! But enough 80s movie references, let’s do this thing!

What Is Custom Laser Engraving?

Custom laser engraving involves using a laser (an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) to put words or messages into something. The laser comes to be through refracting light across a series of mirrors, causing it to concentrate into a super-hot beam of energy. 

The difference between laser carving and engraving lies in how deep the beam penetrates the wood. It’s a lighter touch with engraving, opting to burn away small layers of the material to make an impression as opposed to carving out chunks. It’s less “risky” than carving to keeping the material in good condition but takes longer as a result.

Another factor in making the engraving is the speed of the laser. This gives the engravers more control over the deepness of the cut. That way, your Polar Camel 30oz tumbler doesn’t get a giant hole punctured in it when the laser fires.

There’s no limit on what you can get laser engraved too. Polar Camel wine tumblers, bottle openers, cigar boxes, furniture; if you can make it out of material “friendly” to lasers, it’s eligible for engraving.

What’s Involved in the Laser Engraving Process?

Now that you know what laser engraving is, we’re going to break down the process step-by-step so you know exactly what you’re getting into!

custom laser engraving
custom laser engraving
custom laser engraving
custom laser engraving

Choose Your Material

One of the first steps laser engraving companies take into consideration when engraving your design is what material they will carve into. One of the most common materials for said engraving is wood. 

However, companies have to consider with care what wood gets used. The first thing they look at is the resin content. The higher the resin content, the darker the wood will burn when hit with a laser. 

The inherent shade of the wood is also important, as laser marks will show up clearer on light-colored wood than dark-colored wood. Finding a wood that does not have many streaks (a variation in the wood’s color due to the mineral content) is the final step to ensuring a good cut. Popular types of wood used for engraving include mahogany, maple, bamboo, and more.

If you’re not a fan of wood, laser engraving can also work with Plexiglass. As a sturdy form of plastic boasting a glossy finish, lasers are the best way to engrave this material. Leather is another popular choice, prized for its interesting combo of resistance to wear and tear and physical softness.

Metal is another laser engraving candidate, as is concrete. If you’re skilled enough, you can even engrave words in glass with a laser. 

If you’re stumped on things to get engraved, Polar Camel offers tons of great options like:

  • Polar Camel mugs
  • Polar Camel personalized cups
  • Polar tumbler (in various sizes)
  • Polar Camel wine glass
  • Polar Camel slide lid

Hit the Computer

The next step for laser engravers is to take the design you want to put onto something and program into it a machine. This machine isolates the different lines that make up the shapes to formulate a plan for how to carve that image onto the desired material. As a result, engraving software has a difficult time with bit-based images and prefers file types like PDF’s. 

If you use a photograph, the computer can strip all the color out to find the lines or translate it into a style resembling a line drawing. If you opt for this choice, remember to focus on pictures of people and objects over landscapes. This is because it’s easier to find the lines to isolate with people and objects for the software.

So, if you want to see a picture of your family on the top of your Polar Camel slide lid on on the side of your Polar Camel mugs, you can do that! 

These companies can also wrap an object of your choice (like a Polar Camel can cooler) in the engraved wood should you desire. They accomplish this by using the lasers to carve a small series of lines that allow the wood to bend around an object without cracking or breaking. The catch is that the object needs to have flat surfaces, like a flask or phone case.

Finally, the engravers can use multiple layers of material to make your engraving. This involves taking separate “sheets” of wood, Plexiglass, etc. and carving different patterns into each layer to make one complete image when put together.

Time to Slice and Dice

Once the image finishes processing inside the computer, the material gets strapped into the machine. The laser machine is then programmed for a specific beam temperature and intensity before it’s fired at the material. The computer containing the image then guides the laser to reproduce the image on the material.

The type of laser used is also important. If the material is of a lighter composition (i.e, wood, light plastic, glass) the CO2 laser is up to bat. If metal or heavy-duty plastic goes on the engraving table (i.e with a set of Polar Camel tumblers or Polar Camel can coolers), Nd: YAG lasers are the lasers of choice.

After that, the material cools before it gets packaged and shipped right to you! However, in some cases with wood engravings that will get wet, the company will opt to put a special finish on the wood to prevent deterioration. Metal (like Polar Camel products) or other materials will slip out the door with little pause.

Fantasy No More

Congratulations! Now that you know what custom laser engraving is and how it’s accomplished, it doesn’t have to remain a Hollywood fantasy for you any longer! But where do you go from here?

Well, if you’re eager to try this innovative tech for yourself, give us a look and see what special products we’ve pulled off in the past, from Polar Camel personalized cups to Polar stainless steel tumblers! Now, if you’ll excuse us, we need to go write a letter to the Delorean company we can to ask when we’re getting a flying Delorean.