Awards & Engraving

June '18

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The various technologies available to decorate wood A lot of time is spent working with wood in the awards industry. From the traditional plaque to ornaments, to trophy bases and more, wood substrates continue to rise to the top of customer requests. Over the years, awards retailers have worked with many different wood species and substrates: anything from natural wood like walnut and cherry, to substitutes like veneer and thinner sheets are all familiar faces. If shops spend so much time working with wood, it goes without saying that there should be equal emphasis on the methods used to decorate it. Many retailers are probably familiar with lasering wood, but with the advent of sublimation, and now UV-LED printing, the methods to decorate this popular item have expanded quite a bit in the past few years. Because of this, it's a good idea to revisit the many ways currently available to decorate wood. By Cassie Green BEST METHODS Let's start with the basics. You might be asking yourself, what is the most popular or best way to embellish wood? With all the options out there, it's a fair question, but the answer isn't black and white. When it comes to the most popular, the answer is: it depends. "Wood can be decorated in countless ways and the market seems to be rapidly evolving with the arrival of new technologies and exciting trends," states Josh Stephens, Trotec. "The pro- cessing capabilities available today make it an exciting time to create unique and customizable products." If you're wondering which technology is best to use with wood, again the answer is it depends. Rachel Tindal, LogoJET, points out that the effect you want to achieve and the end application factor in to this determination; each technology has its own benefits. "Laser engraving creates a permanent imprint and depth, while other techniques like sublimation embed color into the wood surface, allowing the natural grain to show through," she elaborates. She adds that UV printing offers raised textures as well as color options. The technology you choose also depends on your available equipment, skill set, and even customer base. Brad Madison of Center Trophy Co. in Omaha, Nebraska, states that laser engraving is by far the most popular in his shop. Aside from being one of the original ways to decorate wood, it's also one of the most permanent. Also keep in mind the substrate you're working with. "You're at the mercy of the wood — the sub- strate does affect your end result," he adds. Since there are so many methods to choose from, and narrowing it down to the most popular or best is tough to do, it's helpful to be aware of all of the options available. Stephens adds CNC technology to the list in addition to sublimation, UV printing, and laser engraving. "CNC machines are popular because they can cut and shape wood into most sizes including large-scale products," he points out. "This type of system can transform wood into just about any shape including plaques, boxes, full-sized furniture, and much more." WORKING WITH WOOD 34 • A&E JUNE 2018

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