Unlocking the Secrets of Engraving Printing: A Detailed Guide

Engraving printing technique

In this comprehensive guide, we uncover the age-old technique of engraving printing, exploring its applications, the intricate process behind it and how it seamlessly integrates into the ever-evolving world of print customization. 

Whether you’re a print provider looking to diversify or a retailer wanting to broaden your online customized print portfolio, this blog will help you understand the nuances of engraving printing and how it can enhance your offering.

A technique that brings an air of sophistication, engraving printing has found a real niche in the growing world of customization. This meticulous art form involves carving detailed designs into various surfaces using specialized equipment and skilled craftsmanship. Its allure lies in the ability to create detailed designs that exude a timeless quality, making it the go-to choice for those seeking a touch of elegance in personalized printed products.

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How does engraving printing work? The process 

Invented in the 15th century, numerous engraving methods have evolved over time but put simply, engraving printing is an intaglio printing technique in which a design is cut into the surface of a metal sheet or plate, usually copper but sometimes also steel. 

The engraved plate is then covered in ink which fills the carved recesses, the excess ink is wiped away using kraft paper and the plate is pressed onto the substrate leaving an embossed image and/or text. 

The method produces beautifully intricate prints with a raised, tactile surface and was traditionally the realm of highly skilled craftsmen painstakingly crafting the designs manually. But with modernization, it is increasingly done using specialized machinery and laser engraving technology that can carve minute details onto the plate in seconds, with intricate precision.

While automation may take away some of the charm of traditional craftsmanship, conversely it has made this art form more accessible at a fraction of the cost and time.

All the different engraving techniques

There are numerous methods that can be used for engraving depending on the desired design and style. 

The two key methods are mezzotint and drypoint engraving. 

  • Drypoint, or direct engraving uses a diamond-tipped tool called a burin creating exceptionally intricate designs and is suited to finer, detailed prints;
  • Mezzotint uses a multi-pointed engraving tool called a rocker, which is used to create small holes, or pits, on copper plates that will collect the ink. The rocker creates the design outline and the engraver will then shave down areas of the design to create gradients giving delicate design definition. 

Another engraving printing technique is called etching, which uses chemicals rather than tools to take away layers of the copper to reveal the desired design. Manual artists may choose to use a combination of etching and engraving. 

Clean lines and bold contrast designs are particularly suited to this technique, as are shaded and fine typefaces, with their intricate details, while white inks on coloured paper give particularly impressive results. It’s not suitable for two-sided printing due to the ‘bruising’ at the back of the pressed paper. Substrates such as classic, heavyweight papers and luxurious cards shine here, with the choice of surface adding its own character to the engraved items.

The delicate balance between old-world craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology is what makes engraving printing both timeless and adaptable to the demands of the modern age, with mechanical and laser engraving achieving similar results in a fraction of the time. Which method comes down to personal choice, budget and time constraints. 

Engraving & customization: a recipe for success

Customization is where engraving really comes into its own, lending itself perfectly to this booming market, whether it’s to be used as a transfer printing process for stylish, personalized stationery or as a direct engraving process to customize your gifts and jewellery, for example. 

Surfaces including metals, plastics, glass, wood and leather all lend themselves perfectly to the method, making possibilities for the consumer almost endless for adding a personal touch to transform regular items into sentimental treasures.

Companies that successfully offer personalized engraving services while efficiently managing their design team’s workload through the use of effective software can achieve a significant competitive edge. This approach is becoming increasingly important as customers highly value unique and high-quality experiences. 

Consider custom engraved products like jewellery such as necklaces or bracelets, home accessories such as cutting boards or glasses, or even gifts like picture frames or keychains, all engraved. Offering these types of products with ease could really make a significant difference.

engraved cutting board

Mastering the art of custom engraving with Zakeke

To offer custom engraved products without running into production or order issues, the first step is picking the right software. Zakeke is a game-changer in this area. It’s a super flexible Visual Customizer tool that fits different printing needs, such as engraving, making it easy to offer personalized products.

Zakeke quickly connects smoothly with major online shopping platforms and fits right into your usual business process and workflow. You simply set up your own printing methods in the back-office and all the customization rules, and then your customers can design what they want based on those rules.

Your customers can personalize their products and see what their engraving will look like on the product directly on your website, thanks to Zakeke’s live personalization and advanced 3D views. This makes shopping more confident and gets rid of questions like, “What will my custom necklace or keyring look like?”

engraved accessory

Customers get to see their engraved product in 3D in real-time, zoom in, and turn it around, almost like they’re in a store. Since you usually can’t return custom engraved items, Zakeke helps by showing customers exactly what they’re getting before they make a purchase.

The best part is that Zakeke not only improves the Customer Experience, it also generates specific print-ready files for engraving print in SVG, PNG, PDF, DXF, BMP, AI formats, so all you have to do is download the right format for your equipment. No more problems with production, order management and file generation.

In short, Zakeke makes engraving personalization easy and error-free, perfect for fast-paced custom work. Want to try out easy engraving printing? Start with Zakeke for a smooth experience.


Intrigued by the Visual Commerce world? Explore FREE customization, 3D, and Try-On with Zakeke! Start in under 10 minutes. Start your 14-day free trial or book a demo today!

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