Glossary of Engraving Terms

Glossary of Engraving Terms

When it comes to engraving, there are a variety of terms out there that may not be common knowledge to the average customer. Our plastic tag manufacturer is hearing and utilizing terms such as phenolic, traffolyte, lamicoid, and bakelite. We have provided a glossary for you to use to better understand the jargon used by our professionals.

Engraving  - The practice of etching text and designs onto a hard flat surface, in our case plastic or metal tags, by cutting grooves into it with the use of machines. At E.R. Perry Signs & Engraving, we use rotary-style machines best described as small milling machines.

Laser engraving - Laser engraving, which is different from laser marking, is the practice of using lasers to engrave an object or engraving material. Laser engraving does not use inks or involve tool bits which contact the surface directly. The lamicoids used for laser engraved tags must be compatible with this style of engraving.

Rotary Engraving is the process of using a spinning cutter in a motorized spindle to cut into material, either completely through the substrate to create cut out shapes or holes, or at a predetermined depth to create engraved grooves that form characters and graphics.  In the lamicoid material, the engraver cuts through the micro face layer to expose the core material which has a contrasting color.  There are a variety of cutters to perform various cuts into the substrate.  Holes and shapes as well as text can be accomplished on the same machine.

Lamicoid: is a term in our industry that is not in Wikipedia at the time of this writing.  Our understanding of the word is that it represents a two or three ply laminated plastic.  In our application the stock we purchase has a micro face layer we can carve through (engrave) to expose the core color for text, logos, maps and images.  We can saw or shear this material to any size needed or cut out shape on the  computer driven engraving machines.  It can be drilled or cut through for holes, slots or windows.  The three ply is typically 1/8” thick and used for two sided signs.

Phenolic

Phenol formaldehyde resins (PF) are synthetic polymers obtained by the reaction of phenol or substituted phenol with formaldehyde. Phenolic resins are mainly used in the production of circuit boards. They are better known however for the production of molded products including pool balls, laboratory countertops, and as coatings and adhesives. In the form of Bakelite, they are the earliest commercial synthetic resin.

This term (phenolic) we see in emails daily when all that is needed is a two-ply plastic lamicoid.  The military uses this word on many of their specifications.  There are and have been materials produced for engraving signs and tags that are phenolic based.  Norplex  Micarta produces phenolic materials that can be engraved. .  This stock is very hard on saws and tools so we no longer offer this stock.  It is NOT exterior grade as is often believed.  So our UltraMatte is a superior material for most applications.

Melamine Resin – Various Substrates

ES-1 is a melamine laminate composed of a white melamine paper core and various pigmented cover sheets.  The three-ply material comes in a standard sheet size of 36 inches ± 1.00 x 39 inches ± 1.00, with standard thicknesses of 1/16, 3/32, and 1/8 inch. Standard finish options are polished, or P (highly polished and shiny),and Lamicoid satin, or LS (non-brushed and dull). A textured suede finish is also available.

ES-2 consists of three internal layers (two colored decorative surfaces, two white sub-cores just below the

surfaces, and a black core centered in the thermoset composite material). ES-2 is a five-ply material, which

comes in a standard sheet size of 36 inches ± 1.00 x 39 inches ± 1.00, with standard-thicknesses of 3/32 and 1/8 inch. Weights of the three standard-thickness sheets are approximately 7.0, and 9.3 lb., respectively.  Standard finish options are polished, or P (highly polished and shiny), or LS (non-brushed and dull). A textured suede finish is also available at an additional cost.

ES-3 consists of a black phenolic paper core and two colored decorative surfaces impregnated with melamine resin. The three-ply, high performance material comes in a standard sheet size of 36 inches ± 1.00 x 39 inches ± 1.00, with standard thicknesses of 1/16, 3/32, and 1/8 inch. Standard finish options are polished, or P (highly polished and shiny), or LS (non-brushed and dull). A textured suede finish is also available.

ES-4 is composed of layers of a pigmented paper melamine resin inner cores and white, black, or colored

cover sheets. The main difference between this product and ES-1 is that the ES-4 core is colored rather than white. The material comes in a standard sheet size of 36 inches ± 1.00 x 39 inches ± 1.00, with standard thicknesses of 1/16, 3/32, and 1/8 inch. Standard finish options are polished, or P (highly polished and shiny),and Lamicoid satin, or LS (non-brushed and dull). A textured suede finish is also available.

Bakelite (/ˈbeɪkəlaɪt/ BAY-kə-lyt, sometimes spelled Baekelite[1]), or polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride, is an early plastic. It is a thermosetting phenol formaldehyde resin, formed from an elimination reaction of phenol with formaldehyde. It was developed by Belgian-born chemist Leo Baekeland in New York in 1907.

One of the first plastics made from synthetic components, Bakelite was used for its electrical non-conductivity and heat-resistant properties in electrical insulators, radio and telephone casings, and such diverse products as kitchenware, jewelry, pipe stems, firearms, and children's toys. Bakelite was designated a National Historic Chemical Landmark in 1993 by the American Chemical Society in recognition of its significance as the world's first synthetic plastic.[2] The "retro" appeal of old Bakelite products has made them collectible.

Traffolyte

Sometimes spelled Traffolite, was a brand name for multi-layered phenolic plastic sheets suitable for engraving. Each layer was a different color so engraved letters or shapes would be a different color from the un-engraved portions. Thus it could be used for name tags, labels and signs.

Valve Tags

Typically these tags have one hole and are attached with a pull tie, wire, ball chain or such.  We like to round the corners on these so no one jabs themselves on sharp corners.  They can be made of 1/16” or 1/8” stock.  The Three ply 1/8” can be engraved both sides.

Cable Tags

Typically these tags have two ¼” holes and are attached with pull ties.  We like to round the corners on these so no one jabs themselves or the cables on sharp corners.  They are made of 1/16” stock.  We also make round tags with two slots that are used on cables.  Many have been used on cell towers around the country and in Hawaii.