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What Is 3D Crystal Engraving?

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  • Written By: Megan Shoop
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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3D crystal engraving involves the use of highly advanced photo imaging and laser technology to engrave complex images inside glass crystal shapes. Many people purchase these crystals as keepsakes, searching for pieces containing images of their favorite animal, praying hands, or angels. Others look for manufacturers that offer custom 3D crystal engraving. This option allows consumers to have the image of their choice, such as a photo or portrait, engraved inside a crystal piece. These items often make beautiful keepsakes because the engraving isn’t as easily damaged as a photo.

The first step in 3D crystal engraving generally involves capturing some kind of picture. Manufacturers that create collectibles for tourists might use iconic images of the Statue of Liberty or the Philadelphia skyline. Other companies usually accept a photo taken by the customer. These photos may contain a single figure, like a pet, or many figures, like a family group photo. The larger the picture is, the more expensive the engraving process usually becomes. Larger photos require larger crystals and more time in the engraving machine.

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The photo is then scanned by the engraving software and uploaded into a machine that projects the picture onto a crystal shape as millions of tiny points. These points, called point clouds, tell the laser where to engrave. The laser shines into the crystal, creating tiny fractures below the surface of the shape. Denser clusters of fractures represent lighter shading areas, while sparser clusters create darker shading. Most 3D crystal engraving processes produce black and white images rather than colored ones.

When finished, the customer may choose to display the crystal in front of a small LED light. Some companies also sell crystal pedestals with lights built into them. These lights may be white, blue, pink, or green. Some lights also change colors, fading from one color to the next after they are lit. Those who want to get really fancy can even find lighted pedestals that rotate the crystals so the consumer can see the image from different angles.

Crystals for 3D crystal engraving come in many shapes and sizes. One of the most popular shapes is the simple cube, since many pictures fit into it easily, and it is not usually very expensive. Tall and squat rectangles are also popular. Diamond-shaped and cylindrical crystals are also available, but they’re rarer and usually expensive. These crystals may have simple, square edges or faceted corners that catch the light. The faceting often adds a little to the price, though some customers believe it adds a touch of elegance, as well.

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