Do you have to retire from a bank or graduate from college to get an engraved ink pen? Heck no! When it comes to engraved promotional pens in particular, you can offer them to everyone from high-value clients and long-term employees, to first time buyers and visitors to your booth at the job fair.
But how has engraving gone from super expensive to remarkably affordable? Here’s the history behind the newfound accessibility of the engraved ink pen.
Engraving is an imprint process where text or a design is cut into the surface of a material (metal, wood, glass, etc.). Engraving your message ensures it won’t rub off over time.
In the case of custom engraved pens, your branding takes on an air of professionalism and permanence that lesser giveaway pens can’t match.
There are several kinds of engraving, which we’ll walk you through below, starting with the oldest and ending with the most popular (and most affordable).
Here’s an example of hand engraving from the late 1800’s:
Exquisite! Also, very time-consuming and expensive. Not surprising, hand engraving today is rare. Partially because it’s likely to end up looking like this:
But mostly hand engraving has gone by the wayside because of machines and techniques that make engraving exceptionally clean, precise, time- and cost-efficient. Machines like these:
From the 18th century up until the 1970’s most engraving was done by manual engraving machines. In this type of engraving, a pantograph machine takes a large design or text and applies it to a much smaller space using parallel design arms (a ratio of 50:1 can be achieved). Today pantographs are largely used by hobbyists for cutting wood or acrylic. It’s a cool concept—check it out below—though not all that scalable.
Next on the engraving timeline came computerized rotary engraving machines, which are still in use today. Rotary engraving involves a motor-powered spindle that spins a cutter. The cutter removes material to create the intended design or text. Rotary engraving allows the operator to enter a design or text into a computer. The computer takes it from there and directs the engraving. What would take an hour using a manual (or pantograph) machine would take a minute with a rotary engraver.
Diamond point (or diamond drag) engraving is a form of rotary engraving that scratches or removes material but without the rotation. When done well, diamond point engraving can pass for hand engraving (the Gustave Doré kind, not the scratching-on-a-cliff kind).
Following rotary engraving came laser engraving, which adds additional efficiency by engraving using light, rather than cutters. In this method a beam of concentrated laser light engraves (also known as marking or scratching) the material. Laser engraving equipment, while more costly than other machines, is fast, relatively easy to use, and creates a precise, clean imprint.
Laser engraving is the dominant engraving method today. It’s the method we here at Pens.com use for most of our engraved promotional pens, including soft touch barrel pens such as our best-selling collection of Alpha Pens. These pens have a rubberized finish over an anodized (hardened) aluminum barrel. We use laser engraving to scratch the rubber finish down to the metal beneath, so your imprint appears in white, silver, or another color depending upon the metal underneath. Here’s an example:
To achieve a laser engraving that produces a mirror imprint, the metal underneath is finished with a mirror coating, like this:
What 50 years ago would be considered a service reserved for special gifts like an engraved graduation pen, today, pens with messages on them (like your slogan, for example) are well within reach.
Once you’ve picked your pen, it’s time for your message. Here are some words of wisdom based upon our decades of service to engraved pen seekers like yourself:
Thanks to modern technology and economies of scale, you can leverage engraving to add an elegant edge to your promotional pens, but at a fraction of the cost. Have your dream pen custom engraved for distribution among a large general audience or a smaller, elite set.
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