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Can you Laser Engrave Tempered Glass

May 24 , 2021

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Laser engravers are great for cutting solid and flat surfaces. Hence, many carvers use this machine to engrave their designs with finesse.


One of the most popular flat surfaces for engraving is glass, of course. You can see engraved designs on glasses, mirrors, windows, coasters, and a wide range of other accessories.


However, there are many types of glass. Some are pretty easy to cut and engrave, but tempered glass is another kettle of fish.


Can you laser-engrave it? Yes, you can. But it is a much more complicated process. So let’s start from the beginning.


Difference Between Etching and Engraving

As you probably know, there are several types of carving. You can cut, etch, or engrave your material to form different shapes and curves.


When you’re cutting firm elements such as wood or metal, you may not notice the difference. You’ll focus on working as precisely as you can.


However, when you work with fragile objects such as glass, there’s a significant difference. For example, everyone knows that you can laser cut glass along the edges effortlessly.


But there’s a small yet essential distinction between laser etching and engraving.


Laser Engraving

When you engrave, you cut out a considerable chunk of the material to create a design. It cuts deeply into the material, leaving a visible cavity in the shape of your image.


Laser Etching

Etching will just scratch the surface of the material; hence it resembles a drawing more than a cut. It effectively only removes the thin top layer of the glass. It requires far less power and speed.


Therefore, laser etching feels more like a “drawing on the glass” because it’s smooth to the touch. On the flip side, laser engraving is significantly deeper, and you can feel it under your fingers more easily.


Also, the etching process usually requires the addition of ink and certain chemicals to form a visible, durable picture.


laser glass

Can You Laser Engrave Tempered Glass?

Put simply – yes, you can laser engrave tempered glass. The problem is in the outcome.


Tempered glass already went through a heating process, which makes the outer surface stronger. However, that heightens the tension in the inner layers, making them vulnerable.


Following that logic, when the laser pierces deeply into the tempered glass, there’s a massive risk of shattering. Even if it doesn’t break, it may still get permanently weaker and lose its primary purpose.


Many people like decorative coasters made of tempered glass. If they have deep engravings, exposure to hotter temperature (e.g., a cup of tea) could break it.


Some experts recommend carving your design before tempering the glass. Therefore it will keep the shape and compress the outer surface to make it sturdier.


Here’s another tip: Your laser engraving machine is also your etching machine. That is, as long as you can adjust the power of the beam.


As a result, you’ll find countless examples of people laser “engraving” tempered glass when they’re actually etching. But if you like the final result, is the process even relevant?


The Best Way to Laser Engrave Tempered Glass


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