Etching or Engraving

Even though these terms may seem alike, they describe completely different printmaking processes. If you have questions about the difference between these two, now is the time to find an answer.

What is Etching?

The etching is a process that dates back even to the Middle Ages. It helps create a design on a given metal, usually zinc or copper. Of course, there are many other metals that are suitable for this type of process. A sheet of the chosen metal is prepared with wax, and acid-resistant one, in order to draw lines into the metal, with a pointy needle. Next, the metal is introduced in acid and we obtain the inscribed marking.

Nowadays, etching has evolved into new forms, such as laser etching, water etching, soft-ground etching, or dry etching.

The most important advantages of etching are that is can be used with most materials, sparing them, it is cost-efficient, durable, precise and a rather fast process.

The one disadvantage that should be mentioned is chemical contamination.

What is Engraving?

Different from etching, the engraving process consumes more metal. Also, engraving leaves a deeper marking inscribed, unlike etching.

The technique used in the engraving is to cut into the metal, preferably a softer one, such as copper, in order to create an image. It is more like an incision, rather than an inscription. The sharp tool used is called a burin. The plate is then inked and pressed, with the aid of machines or manually. This process is preferred for the jewelry business, for example.

The advantage of engraving is that it requires less manual effort.

On the other hand, there a quite a few disadvantages to this choice. It is expensive, has a modest manufacturing speed, and the metal choice is quite delicate.

Etching or Engraving: Which one and Why?

These are both adaptable processes and are adequate for many applications in the modern industry.

Engraving is durable, but also time-consuming. It is suitable for smaller tasks.

Etching, on the other hand, is suitable for most materials, such as copper, brass, aluminum, cold-rolled steel or stainless steel. It also provides high tailoring, and it is used by a wide range of today’s industries, from transportation, defense, energy, furniture, to aerospace.

At the end of the day, one should choose etching or engraving according to the necessity. Find the best solution to fit your needs and successfully accomplishing the job.