C: Hello Michelle, I have a client who is looking to upgrade his corporate look. He is considering getting new apparel for his staff and has heard about laser etching and has asked me about it. I am not familiar with it so I came to you, knowing that you perform this type of work. What can you tell me so that I may better inform my client?
SG: Well, the first thing I would like to say is “Thank you for coming to us with your questions.” Now, with regards to your client’s questions about laser etching…laser etching is the latest in apparel decoration technology. It differs from traditional decoration techniques in that it uses a laser to etch, or “burn” a design into the garment, rather than sewing with a needle and thread, or laying down ink through a silk screen.
C: That sounds very interesting but, why would my client want to use laser over standard embroidery or screen printing?
SG: Well, there are numerous advantages to laser etching. First…it is a faster method. Since the laser is not physically sewing the design onto the fabric, it can decorate the garment faster, in many cases, MUCH faster. In the deadline driven environment of today, we all know how important that is.
Second, since the laser is not, actually, sewing the design onto the garment, your client will have many more options regarding the placement of his logo. There are fewer limitations when it comes to placement, therefore, your client is, no longer, limited to a front left chest or a sleeve logo. Now the logo can be placed over seams, over buttons, over pockets, over zippers, further customizing the effect that the client is trying to achieve. In fact, logo placement is now limited, only, to the imagination of the client.
Third, the laser yields a nice and clean, professional appearance, without the pulling and puckering that can be problematic with today’s modern, lightweight fabrics. A very high- end, “tone-on-tone” look will be the result and we have found that this is becoming more popular with our corporate clients, as well as those who are looking for something new and different.
Fourth and, perhaps, most important, laser etching is more cost-effective, since it is not priced by stitch count, as is embroidery, nor priced by layers of colour, as is screen printing. As such, a full back sized logo done with laser etching will cost a fraction of the same design done with embroidery or screen printing. Plus, once your artwork has been edited and approved, your client can re-size the logo as many times as he or she wants for no additional charge, provided that no other changes are requested for the design. This can save quite a bit of money in the long run and not everyone offers this.
C: What are the limitations and disadvantages of laser etching?
SG: The limitations are few but, they are very important. The major limitation is that the laser cannot produce in colour and will yield a “tone-on-tone” image. Another factor to be aware of is that tone changes are more subtle on very light or very dark coloured fabrics. We recommend that laser etching be done on dri-tech fabric, as well as most micro fleece. We have found that synthetic materials work best when using the laser.
C: What else is there that I can tell my client that we have not mentioned?
SG: The laser is the most versatile decoration method available today. In addition to apparel, we are able to etch on granite, most plastics, acrylic and wood, as well as other hard goods. By adjusting the power level of the laser, we can set the desired depth of the burn, which will alter how light or dark the design appears on the material. Also, we would like your client to know that we also offer laser etching on scarves and blankets.
C: Thank you for your time today and for answering my many questions and for sharing your expertise with me. I am now better equipped to inform my client on what options are available to him and where he should go to get them.
SG: Thank you for coming in to see us and remember that we are here to help you with all of your decorating needs