Start Here October '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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31 R otary engraving is a classic tech- nique that can be used to personal- ize a variety of items—metal, plas- tic, and even foam are just a few substrates that work well with this technology. But to really appreciate the benefits it offers, it's important to understand the basics of what it is. For those new to the technol- ogy, there's more to rotary engraving than a machine with a spindle. Following, a few experts offer some insight on rotary engraving. From starting price points to time investments, from how the equipment works to what results you can expect, tune in as these indus- try insiders cover everything you need to know. Basic Cost of Entry Often when a shop is looking to add new equipment or learn a new technology, it will start look- ing at the basic equipment avail- able and what price points to expect. And as with any new beginning, that information can vary widely. "Your level of investment will be contingent on which engraving markets you plan to focus on as a start-up and then expand into as your business grows," states Bobbi Payne, Rowmark. She cites awards and recognition, personalized gifts, and sig- nage as just a few markets that rotary engraving services work well for. The price point that you can expect is also a variable. "The starting price point will vary depending on your busi- ness plan. That said, an estimated starting price range would be from $10,000 to $20,000," Payne adds. But there's more to it than just buying a rotary engraving machine. There are a variety of tools that are also needed. "I recommend starting out with a basic set of tools for the machine," emphasizes Chuck Donaldson, Antares Inc. He suggests start- ing with tools for flexible plastics and a few for soft metal. "Tools vary in price depending on the size of the shank, but you can expect a range from $20 to $33 for standard tools," he adds. Other tools for consideration include a non-rotating diamond and a burnishing attachment, and a diamond graver. Aside from equipment and price point, there are a few other considerations a shop must examine when looking to add rotary engraving to its list of services. "Understand the market opportunities available in your region," Payne states. "While there are vast opportunities, there are also risks, costs, and knowledge needed to ensure success." Variety of Uses Once you've made the leap, there are a variety of ways to use the equipment. Many shops utilize this equipment to create sig- nage, or on the other end of the spectrum, personalize jewelry. The reality is, rotary equipment is capable of so much more. Jason Pritchett, Gravotech, offers a unique idea for the rotary engraver: "hard wax for the 'investment casting' manufac- turing process—letters, serial numbers, and even 2-D code can be engraved in the wax; and then the plaster/ceramic-smelting process ends up as a solid metal part." Donaldson also has a few ideas to add to the mix. "Reverse engraving (engraving the back of the material) in acrylic and paint filling can give a dramatic, modern look," he points out. "This can also be done with acrylic that has been sublimated on the back side." Combining technologies is a decorating method sure to catch the eye of the customer. "In addition to standard signage sub- strates such as plastic laminates and wood, rotary technology is recognized for its abil- Cassie Green is the editor of A&E magazine. She can be reached at cgreen@ or 720-566- 7278. S T A R T H E R E 2 0 1 8 One of the many applica- tions rotary engraving is ideal for is creating ADA- compliant signage. Be sure to check all ADA rules and regulations. (Image cour- tesy Vision Engraving and Routing Systems)

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