Sign & Digital Graphics

Start Here October '19

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72 S T A R T H E R E 2 0 1 9 Sandcarving F or someone just launching a busi- ness in the awards and engraving industry, finding the right niche can seem intimidating. With all the different engravable products, etching techniques and equipment options, there's plenty to consider, but with its accessibility, versatility, and quick learning curve, sandcarving could be a great place to start for the begin- ner producer. What is Sandcarving? Essentially, sandcarving uses compressed air and an abrasive media to permanently etch an image into a substrate, such as glass, crystal, stone, ceramic, stainless steel, wood, and leather, says Darin Jones, IKONICS Imaging, a Duluth, Minnesota-based supplier of sandcarving equipment and products. To start, a retailer creates and prints the artwork. When doing so, he or she should ensure the black areas are 100 percent black while the white areas are 100 percent white and set the printing preferences to the darkest output. Once the retailer produces the artwork, it's time to create the stencil. One can produce a stencil using photoresist film or a laser mask from a laser engraver, says Liz Haas of Rayzist, a Vista, California-based manufacturer of photoresist films and sandcarv- ing equipment. From there, the user cleans the substrate, applies the stencil, tapes off any exposed areas, and places it in the sand- carving machine. Generally, sandcarving machines are operated by a foot pedal system, so the operator then steps on the foot pedal to start shoot- ing sand out of the nozzle. With each pass, the producer can achieve greater depth. Jones recommends keeping the nozzle 4 to 6 inches away from the substrate at a 90-degree angle while moving the nozzle slowly. After reaching the desired depth, the sandcarving process is complete. When working with glass and other polished surfaces, which are commonly used substrates for beginners, Haas finds it's best to use a self-stick film for the mask. Not only does self-stick film adhere to glass and polished surfaces well but it's also reposition- able, making it easier to align correctly. Once the film is in posi- FACT BOX Cost of Entry: For a basic setup, expect to spend approximately $4,000. The price can go higher for a more advanced system, but the $4,000 price tag is a reasonable place for a beginner to start. Educational Resources: A variety of educa- tional resources are available, including hands- on workshops, trade shows, YouTube tutorials, social media groups, and support lines. Basic Equipment Needed: To start a sand- carving business, a graphics program, a printer, an air compressor system, a sandcarving cabinet, and masking and stencil supplies are needed. Shop Space Required: Approximately 10 feet by 10 feet is enough for most shops. Time to Become Proficient: A new sandcarver can learn the basics within minutes and start sandcarving right away with entry-level appli- cations. To nail down more advanced tech- niques, it takes additional practice. SANDCARVING for the Newbie By Amanda McGrory-Dixon Amanda McGrory- Dixon is a Denver- based freelance writer. She can be contacted at amandakmcgrory@ The beginner's guide to finding success in sandcarving For those just starting out in sandcarving, glass and stone and two popular substrates. (Image courtesy IKONICS Imaging)

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