The glass engraving is a very sensational kind of laser processing of glass. This is partly due to the possibilities of the fascinating 2- and 3-dimensional design of glass inside and the opportunity to bring photographic motifs with nuanced shades of gray.
Furthermor it is because the glass surface remains completely unaffected even by the laser processing. Only in the inner of the glass are structures visible like a hologram. Each laser pulse produces a 100 micron measuring point in the glass which is visible as a small deterioration of the eye.
Out of the big amount of those small points any 2 and 3-dimensional designs can be produced inside the glass. It should be noted that, in general, a distance of about 1 mm is to be observed to the glass surface so that the stability of the glass is not impaired.
A prerequisite for the engraving is that the surface of the glass where the laser is entering the material inlet is made of good optically quality. For this reason frosted or structured glass surfaces are not an option.
Should the glass be merely matted or structured on one side, it still can get laser engraved from the clear and smooth glass side. ESG or TVG – thermally toughened glass or glass which is further processed into ESG or TVG, unfortunately cannot be reliably provided with an inner engraving.
The microstructures produced by the laser - as experiences are showing - can even if the ESG or TVG should first appear stable, leading many months later to a sudden spontaneous breakage of the glass.
Where increased security and stability requirements apply like glass doors, facade elements or showers, can often considered alternative laminated glass made of float glass in combination with TVG.
Therefore the laser allows the use of engraving even where it is not applicable.
Normal or low-iron float glass (z. B. optiwhite® or starfire®, even if it is part of a laminated glass, can be engraved inside with no problems with the laser. Multi-pane laminated glass can even get engraved inside with thicknesses greater than 50mm.
Even at a thicknesses of 200 mm by 10 each 19 mm thick optiwhite discs inner engravings can be realized with surprisingly good engraving quality. It should be noted that the laser beam is not focused in the intermediate layers of PVB or EVA films or casting resins.
Doing so may cause blisters and unsightly discoloration caused by the burning of the material. Thus a multi-disc laminated glass cannot be easily structured in all its strength throughout the laser - rather the structure and thickness of each glass and film layers have to be considered carefully.
Glas which has already an internal engraving can get processed without any issues on a later state to a laminated glass. Many other types of glass, such as borosilicate or crystal glass, quartz glass and optical glasses are able to get with the laser easily inside.
Also dark and colorless glass ceramic has been successfully used to structure subsurface engraving systems. Even transparent plastics such as PMMA, polycarbonate, polyamide or PET - to name just a few.
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