Etched Signs or Engraved Signs: Which Should You Choose?

Etched Signs

Choosing a specific type of marking method for your sign will give it the kind of look you want. If you are to choose between etched signs or engraved signs however, with these two being rather similar to each other, you may wonder which one is best for you. Let us list down the different characteristics of each marking type so you can easily assess which one is indeed best for your particular need.

Etching – this is a method of marking that involves the use of acid, or any other chemical that eats into metal. This particular marking method uses protective compounds like resin or beeswax (used in the old days) to cover areas that are not supposed to be eaten away by the mordant or acid. The exposed areas are eaten away by the acid and the result is areas that are sunken (which have been etched into by the acid) and areas that are raised, giving the metal nameplate dimension.

With etching, the longer the acid or mordant is applied to the metal, the deeper the grooves will be. This process is called “biting” since the acid is said to bite into the metal to form these grooves. To make the raised areas more pronounced, some manufacturers ink or paint the grooves that are formed by etching. Etched metal plates can be used for printing purposes, although a lot of people these days also use etched nameplates as is, for signage or other similar uses.

Engraving – this marking method uses tools that are directly applied to the metal to create grooves that result in sunken and raised parts that make up the sign or nameplate. Engraving was also known to have been used in the past for printing purposes, like etching, although less so than its counterpart. This is due to the rather painstaking and difficult process involved in creating the designs by hand directly on the material itself.

Traditionally, burins and other hand held tools are used to create engraved plates. These days however, with the invention of the computer and other tools that can be hooked up to it, computerized engraving is now the norm. This allows more details to be added to engraved plates without too much trouble since the engraving tool is guided by computers with precision. Just like etching, you can also have paint or ink added to the grooves in these plates to help the design pop from the metal nameplate itself.