Meridian Star

January 19, 2014

Burton Awards provides state-of-the-art technology

Laser engraving creates one-of-a-kind keepsakes

Special to The Star
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     According to American author and poet Maya Angelou, people will forget what you said and what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

    And what better way to make someone feel extraordinary than with a one-of-a-kind keepsake, custom-designed not only to fit the occasion, but to fit the person as well?

    What if you could have your daughter's winning goal kick forever emblazoned in silver or brass, or etched in glass, even? What if you could customize your father's golf clubs with his own signature or your nephew's hunting rifle - stock or barrel - with a unique design? How about a personalized sterling silver key chain to commemorate your granddaughter passing her driver's exam? Wouldn't an elegant wine box with the happy couple's photo burned into the wood make a nice wedding gift for your cousin?

    With today's technology, the sky's the limit when it comes to creating unique and memorable keepsakes to honor those we admire the most, claims John Burton, owner of Burton Awards, located inside Custom Frame & Gift in the Broadmoor Shopping Center.

    Equipped with a new, state-of-the-art Epilog Helix 18" x 24" 30-watt CO2 laser engraver, Burton is prepared to turn almost any material into a custom keepsake, award or gift that is sure to make an impression for years to come.

    "We can work with most any uncoated metal – as long as it's not anodized – such as brass, aluminum, unplated silver, chrome, steel, or titanium. We can't really work with gold because it is too soft, but we can work with acrylics and most plastics – with the exception of PVC – as well as marble, granite, crystal and even glass, as long as the surface is flat," said Burton, thumbing through an expansive catalog of customizable keepsakes and awards, many of which he keeps in stock.

    From trophy cups, medals and plaques to tiaras, acrylic stones and poly resin sports figures, Burton offers a plethora of products that can be custom designed to honor those in our lives who deserve a little recognition. In addition to awards for any occasion, Burton also offers engraving services for regular business and office supplies, such as ID badges, name plates and door signs, as well as personalized corporate gift items, like pen sets, desk sets and luggage tags, coin boxes, bells, clocks and wooden gavels.

    Using computer applications such as Corel Draw in conjunction with an electronic scanner, Burton is able to transfer practically any image onto different types of flat surfaces, using one of three methods: laser engraving, etching or rotary engraving.

    The term LASER actually stands for "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation." Laser engraving utilizes laser light, which is highly collimated by means of a focus lens. An extremely high energy density is generated in the focus of the laser beam, which is used for melting or evaporating the top surface of various types of materials.

    "With laser engraving, you are essentially just burning away the top surface of a material and exposing the under layers. You are not really cutting into the harder materials, so it leaves a smooth finish," explained Burton. Etching, he said, is a process that utilizes a bit called a diamond drag.

    "Etching actually scratches the surface of the material," Burton added, noting that either a color fill or an acid wash may then be applied to add contrast to both etched and lasered images.

    Some metals, like steel, cannot actually be burned with a laser, but can be "marked" with a special coating that is permanently fused to the metal using heat from the laser. "The coating only adheres to the metal in the places where the laser has touched," Burton said, adding that the laser actually bores into softer materials like wood.

    Rotary engraving, a process which actually cuts channels in materials using a bit, is achieved with a router-like piece of equipment, Burton said.

    The key to producing quality, one-of-a-kind pieces lies mainly in the set-up process, where images are manipulated electronically to produce optimal results on the lasering table. "Essentially, what we are doing is printing these images using a laser in place of ink on materials like metal and wood instead of paper. It's all about creating enough contrast in a scanned image and then converting the file into a format that the laser can interpret," Burton explained.

    Of course, matching the right engraving process to the right material makes all the difference in the world.

    "It's really fascinating the different things you can do with this technology, and we are learning what works and what doesn't as we experiment with new ideas every day," Burton said.

    To learn more about laser engraving, etching and rotary engraving, and the products and materials best suited for each process, call Burton Awards at 601-581-1557 or visit www.burtonawards.net. View sample plaques, trophies and awards on display at 4900 Poplar Springs Drive in Meridian.