Engravers Bible: Introduction

This manual to engraving basics focuses on all aspects of computerized engraving including a representative shop layout, equipment requirements, engraving methods and techniques, product pricing and marketing. Some references will be made to the traditional manual (i.e., pantograph) engraver since it continues to play a vital role in the complete engraving shop and cannot be overlooked with its advantages for some specific applications. This guide cannot make you an engraving expert but will familiarize you with the language of engravers and key elements essential to operating a sound engraving business.

The engraving terms, processes and techniques in this guide are common to all engraving systems on the market today, regardless of the type or brand of engraving equipment you may currently own. If you own an engraving system now or are considering starting your own engraving business, you will be guided in your decision and educated on the fundamentals of the industry and its unique opportunities.


Computerized engraving has reached a significant milestone. Since its introduction in the early 1980's, and from its limited and humble beginnings, it has now attained the highest level of productivity and creativity. Recent software development has allowed the least knowledgeable engraver operator the opportunity to interface with third party software packages, import stock clipart for more eye-appealing designs, and engrave three-dimensional effects to create a broader and more sophisticated line of products. The goal: to increase business profits.

Along with its affordability, engraving equipment now directly interfaces with other identification and sign making equipment so that the complete engraving shop can offer the broadest range of engraved or personalized products to its customers. The average shop may consist of, at a minimum, a manual engraver, one or more computerized systems for various applications, a scanner, advanced PC's, third-party software (like CorelDRAW™), and numerous accessory tools such as shears, bevelers, and a corner rounder. (Don't worry if you are unfamiliar with these terms; they will be discussed in greater detail later). Suffice it to say, it may take as little as $2,000 to get started, but can run as high as $30,000-$40,000 for a larger, more sophisticated shop. A complete and successful business may be run from either a 1,000 square-foot facility or from an extra bedroom in your home.


You can easily choose from several methods of marking and personalization including hot stamping, screen printing, laser marking, sublimation, acid etching, embroidery, pad printing or sandblasting. All of these processes yield a unique look in different materials. Engraving, as compared to other methods, can produce a truly lasting result. Why, because it is the most permanent form of marking. The removal of material in items such as Corian®, wood, brass, aluminum and acrylic will leave an impression (no pun intended), that can last a lifetime.


Although not specifically addressed in this book, laser engravers have reached their highest level of acceptance in the trophy and awards market in recent years. Many shops have adopted laser engraving as a means of complimenting their more traditional rotary engraved products. Applications well suited to laser engraving systems include glass, wood, leather, rubber stamps, and gray scale images such as photographs that can be engraved on the above mentioned items. Laser engraving systems prices start at about $8,000. Careful consideration should be given when making a purchase of a laser engraver for the first time, especially if you do not have an existing rotary system in your shop. Do the homework necessary to determine if you can realize a reasonable payback period for a laser system. If you can develop a market for the products it can produce, then the decision may already be made for you. If you are in the early days of your first engraving business or are unsure about how you will make back your investment, I recommend you take the plunge into the engraving industry with a less-expensive rotary system first - you can always trade-up later.


If you are not currently receiving the industry trade publications, subscribe now! There are several magazines available which will provide you with technical information, sources for products you will need and upcoming industry events. You will find product reviews, engraving techniques, and other useful industry insights. Don't make the mistake of missing out on this very inexpensive tool. You won't regret it.

Another tool available to you when you subscribe to the various trade publications is the annually published "source books". These include listings for manufacturers, suppliers and distributors of the many products used in engraving. You'll find company names addresses and phone numbers with a cross-reference to the products or services provided. If you're not fond of thumbing through pages in a catalog, try going on-line to view the many web sites provided by the trade associations and magazines. Most have links to industry suppliers for more information. See Appendix A.


This self-study manual has been designed not only to help you get started in the engraving business by familiarizing you with industry-accepted engraving terms and their meanings, but also as a reference tool that you can come back to again and again. Use it to educate your staff and train new-hires. --Omitted for online use--

To your success,
Rich Zydonik
Phoenix, Arizona - April, 1999

The Engravers' Bible © 1999 by Rich Zydonik/National Business Media, Inc. Printed and Bound in the United States of America. All rights reserved. No part of this self-study manual may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the author/publisher. Additional legal, financial and professional management advice and/or assistance are encouraged.