People have been engraving things for more than 600 years, according to Britannica, and for most of that time, it has been a highly skilled art achieved by human hands. Initially, engraving was used to score copper plates in order to create reproducible prints. It’s still used for that purpose, but we also use it to add images or wording to personalize objects like jewelry.
Engraving personal objects is more common than ever due to technological advancements that have made the process faster and more precise. Hand-driven tools have been replaced with computer-controlled lasers that mark, etch, or engrave surfaces of materials from metal to leather in seconds.
According to Earthweb, laser engraving works by removing a small portion of material with a CO2 laser, while marking changes in the conditions of the surface instead of removing pieces. Etching, likewise, doesn’t remove material. Instead, it heats the surface enough that it melts but remains in place. It’s best used for materials like glass or acrylic. While the specific process differs slightly, the aesthetic result is largely the same. Most importantly, you still get to watch a laser rapidly and accurately alter a material almost as if by magic.