Awards & Engraving

June '18

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38 • A&E JUNE 2018 and the bed automatically adjusts to posi- tion the print head at the proper distance for printing," she notes of the process. "Artwork is opened into the RIP software, and settings are selected to determine how many layers of ink to apply to achieve the desired finish." From there, just send the job to print, and since the ink is cured while printing, the product is immediately ready for use. SHAPE UP Now that we've discussed the available decorating technologies and some consid- erations to keep in mind when applying them to wood products, let's take a look at the substrate side of things. Sources agree that the grain and general makeup of the wood itself factor in to working with it, but so does the shape of the product. Starting simple, plaques are one of the most well-known and worked-with wood products. According to Madison, these have been around for a long time, and in the beginning, laser engraving was pretty much the only option to decorate them. And of course, lasering wood plaques almost always yields predictable results. But when moving on to something a little more complex, say a round orna- ment, things can get trickier. When it comes to odd-shaped items, a little expe- rience goes a long way regardless of the technology you're using to decorate them. "Decoration of odd shapes requires skill and experience that is obtained over time," Stephens believes. But that doesn't mean all hope is lost. "There are a lot of online resources available to assist with mastering this … (and) there are a lot of things that can be done to assist with processing the material." For example, jigs are one tool that can be used when lasering items like a round wood ornament. Jigs aren't just for the engraving pro- cess, either. "Custom printing jigs for UV printers can be manufactured to hold odd-shaped items in place on the flatbed," Tindal points out. "There are also rotary printing attachments that allow for full 360-degree UV customization on cylindrical or tapered objects." If sandcarving an odd shape, there are just a few pointers to keep in mind. "A photoresist stencil makes the project easy to etch, as it is flexible and conforms to curves or odd shapes," Haas says. When working with a curve, be sure to create your artwork on a curve to help lay the image out correctly. "It is important to blast at a 90-degree angle especially over curved areas," she finishes. No matter which technique you choose, it's a safe bet that your customer's wood item will be a natural hit. "(Retailers) that are skilled and experienced with wood processing that also own the proper equip- ment can offer highly profitable services and operate an extremely rewarding and lucrative business," Stephens finishes. Laser engraving is one of the oldest methods to decorate wood and yields high-quality results when executed correctly. IMAGE COURTESY TROTEC LASER UV printing is becoming an increasingly popular method to decorate wood substrates and can be applied to any species of wood. IMAGE COURTESY LOGOJET

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