November '20

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A W A R D S & C U S T O M I Z AT I O N 8 6 G R A P H I C S P R O N O V E M B E R 2 0 2 0 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M Y O U R L A S E R A T W O R K | B O B H A G E L LASERING THIN LINES AND SMALL GRAPHICS L aser engraving is easy, right? You just push start, wait a few min- utes, and a beautiful graphic and sentiment appears on a plate or custom- ized product. At times, it can be that easy. If you just engrave basic names and dates on trophy plates, you probably don't have the challenges that some artwork and flair scripts provide on more sophisticated products. Selecting the graphics yourself or us- ing artwork from your own library may provide fewer challenges. But when your clients and customers provide artwork, portions of the graphic may have very thin lines or small objects that can provide several challenges, which I discuss in this article. What's wrong with thin lines or small elements of a graphic? They just might not laser, or if they do, that portion of the graphic or text likely won't show. Portions of a line may not laser out, leaving a bro- ken-looking line. It can make a graphic or letter look incomplete, fuzzy, or just ap- pear to be a poor laser job. SIZE MAKES A DIFFERENCE Line width or the size of parts of a graph- ic shrink as the text or graphic is made smaller. The smaller the whole layout is, the more likely you will have objects or lines that won't laser or cannot be seen. It's not only the size of the whole layout, but the density of the layout. In other words, the more that is packed into the layout, such as too many graphics or a lot of text, the less white space there is and the more crowded the engraving looks. White space (blank space) is necessary to make the text and graphics stand out. So regardless of the line width or size of a graphic that you start with, shrinking them down to fit a crowded layout or small plate size results in some lines being so thin, or objects so small, your machine may struggle to laser them out. RESOLUTION My laser can engrave at 300, 400, 600, or 1,200 dots per inch (DPI). Typically, I la- ser at 300 or 400 DPI as your eyes resolve text and lines to about 300 DPI. Higher resolution often won't make a better-look- ing engraving; a 600 DPI setting takes twice as long to engrave as 300 DPI, and since your machine time is valuable, the extra time adds little value. However, there are cases when you should go higher. I have a city seal for one of my clients with so many thin lines and small objects that I cannot make any thicker than I have. I laser the seal at 1,200 DPI so it looks as sharp and complete as possible. If you have an issue with the quality of an engraving, try raising the res- This city patch looks good except for one portion. The center has the city seal with very small text and tiny graphics. The seal is the most simplified version available. I would laser this at 1,200 DPI. (All images courtesy Bob Hagel)

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