Engraving Glass - Laser vs. Sand Carving

What is the difference between lasered and sand carved glass? And why is the cost so different? Here are some thoughts on those questions.

In the photo above, the pint glass on the left is laser engraved and the OTR glass on the right is sand carved. Both are permanent and each has its place.

The biggest trend in the awards industry in recent years has been the growth in glass and crystal products. Way back when, we used to rotary engrave glass which required water running over it and results could vary depending on the glass. It was quite a process.

As I’ve noted before a majority of award providers use only laser engraving machines now and these can engrave glass. We were told, when we bought our first laser, that we’d love what it did with glass. Hmmm… we did not find that to be true. Lasering removes a tiny bit of the surface of the glass to create the mark and they can’t engrave leaded crystal at all. It can look nice although some glass will flake.

For large quantities or restaurant-grade glass the laser can be a great option. Some glass awards are made with a colored coating on the back – these must be laser engraved and look wonderful (see SKU G2976 for instance).

Looking to engrave glass to the quality standards we needed led us to buy a sand carving cabinet. This allows us to cut into the glass with carefully controlled air pressure blowing a spray of very fine grit. It is the most labor intensive, high-skilled work we do.

It is also expensive and not just due to the time involved. The mask that is required is $25 per letter-sized sheet – our cost!! And all sorts of things can go wrong that create a ruined product. This all means that sand carving, while really beautiful, is expensive, especially for small quantities.

As we’ve pondered ways to price our drinkware we’ve finally decided that inclusive pricing would be easiest for our clients to understand and would streamline order writing for our sales folks. Since most glasses have a small graphic and small amount of text (or names and date in the case of a wedding) we’ve decided that laser engraving will add $15 to the base price of a glass and sand carving $30. There may be artwork charges for logo preparation or if you are looking for our design team to come up with something truly unique.

If large quantities we can create a blasting mold that requires a setup fee be less per piece cost. We hope this will make it easier for you, our customers, and will allow us to keep offering the quality options we’re committed to.