Subsurface laser engraving, the ultimate technique of glass decoration


Principle and history

Nowadays, everyone has already seen these glass 3D image inside. People are always amazed about the looks of the models inside, whether it be a car, a yacht or just a company logo.

In fact, the images created in this way look as a sculpture inside a glass block. This is probably the reason why this technique of decorating glass is very popular. This is the first technique that allows you to create “sculptures” using a computer (CAD). The first time a 3D model inside the computer can be turned into something real outside of the computer!

Underground laser engraving or 3D laser Crystal engraving, is a style of decorating glass where the glass marking (small dots) are formed inside the glass without disturbing the surface of the glass object.

As these underground laser engraving machines do their job is actually not so difficult to understand.

All, basically, in my youth, put a string of shoes or a piece of paper on fire with a magnifying glass. Solar beam is focused or bundled with a magnifying glass. At the focal point of energy of sunlight is so high that the material and oxygen in the air react, and so the material starts to burn. The condition in this case is that the material must be capable of burning in the air like paper, wood, dry grass, Shoe strings, etc

Instead of sunlight the ability to focus a laser beam with a lens. If the wavelength of laser radiation is well-chosen, complete of energy at the focal point of the lens can interact with glass. For glass, the wavelength of 1064nm or 532nm. Light and laser light travel through the glass, usually without any interaction. This light energy is high enough and has a laser beam of the right wavelength, then something happens in the glass. While glass is normally transparent, at that focal point, that a particular laser beam makes it not transparent. This area in glass, then saw a tiny white dot.

Moving the focus point of the laser in different locations and creating dots at these locations, the 3D model can be built.

In fact, in the bowels of the laser machine makes the model to pieces. The first machine makes the point in one plane at the bottom of the glass cube. Then it moves up a little higher and makes the dots in the next plane, the further and further it creates a 3D model.

So the fun of this technique is that the laser beam can only make a point at the focal point, and the rest of the object glass through which it passes, remains intact.

Originally the method was invented in Russia as a spin-off of the laser program during the Cold war. First point was relatively large, and models were only composed of from 50 to 200 points. But since they were first shown in the gift ware trade fair, everyone was really impressed.

After the Fraunhofer Institute in Aachen, Germany, power stations with international developments, the laser, invented in 1997 a new type of laser technique has become very popular. This new laser is made very small dots, and the write speed was incomparable with the Russian equipment. This led to a model, say 50,000 points, which took only 20 seconds to be engraved in a glass block.

In the present world tableware has a new tool to make great glassware.

3D crystal or glass?

The term 3D Crystal laser engraving is widely used instead of subsurface laser engraving.

Although sub-surface laser engraving describes exactly what is happening, it sounds more interesting commercial called 3D Crystal laser engraving. Appeal the word ‘Crystal’ is more valuable to people than glass, and this is probably the reason for this somewhat confusing name.

Although it is possible to do underground laser engraving in crystal and many other transparent materials, the material generally used for this technology is optical glass.

Optical glass is a kind of glass that is made in a very accurate way. Any artifacts in the glass will affect optical quality. For 3D laser engraving process it is very important that the quality of the optical glass used is the same for the entire block to avoid errors.

So next time when you see somewhere written “3D crystal” you know, it’s actually not crystal, but (optical) glass.


The most famous application of corporate gifts. Glass block or any other shape with the internal design of the company logo and text is a long-term gift that is sure to get a place on the table receiver.

The technology is developed and objects only a few centimeters a few centimeters. Massive blocks 15cm 15cm can be totally filled with drawings and texts. So it is also an ideal material for glass trophies, which are usually bulkier then the smaller blocks that are everywhere in stores.

The common market of the gift products is the second market for this product. Image sites, like the Eiffel tower or the Taj Mahal, a popular souvenir items and create a memory of life is a special occasion.

Personalized gifts-this is another growing market for 3D crystal gifts. New techniques for camera and software, a 3D image of the face/head in the blink of an eye. With some additional text makes an excellent anniversary gift, gift for a birthday or just a house decoration.

Machinery 3D Crystal laser engraving is continually evolving, and the speed is constantly increasing. This opened the way for other, larger applications. In offices, glass partitions with internal laser engraved design to find your way. Glass furniture like table tops, you can decorate using this technique.

More popular are the marks for commercial purposes. Especially the combination of these signs and LED light technology is very powerful, because the engraving lights and other glass pieces remain unlit.

Sub-surface laser engraving has become in 15 years, from scratch, a powerful glass decoration technique which has found its place in the market and new technical advances hand in hand with new developments for CAD will make it sure that we will see much more of this technology in the near future.

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