engraving materials you use in your business depend, of course, on what
your core customers need and what marking methods you use to satisfy their
needs. If you sell a lot of engraved signage and name badges, for instance,
you probably use a lot of flexible plastic engraving stock. If your main
forte is engraved trophies and plaques, you most likely have a good selection
of metal materials on your shelves. And if you use other marking methods,
like laser engraving or sublimation, then you need materials that work
well with these processes.
As we make our way through 2004, the good news is that you, as an R&I
specialist, have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to engraving
materials. We are fortunate enough, in this industry, to have many reputable
material suppliers that offer quality products at competitive prices and
arent content to offer only the same old conventional red plastic
with a white core or .020" brass sheets (although you can certainly
get those products if you need them). Instead, were seeing materials
evolve right along with customer demands and also as different marking
methods become more popular. For example, customers like the look of granite
but its not always the easiest material to engrave on; now we have
a plastic material that looks like granite but engraves with the ease
of sign plastic. As laser engraving and sublimation continue to grow,
we continue to see more technological developments in the materials developed
for these processes. For instance, while laserable plastic was once pretty
good, now its excellent.
this article, well take a look at the most commonly used engraving
materials, as well as whats new and whats happening overall
in this market. Industry suppliers have also provided a few tips for finding
the best supplier for your needs and getting the most out of that supplier-retailer
Plastic Engraving Materials
Acrylic has sleek, upscale, modern qualities that make it a very
popular choice for awards and gifts. Its a heat-sensitive plastic
sold under brand names such as Lucite and Plexiglas, and
has been traditionally available in clear, opaque and translucent colors.
As the popularity of acrylic has grown, weve seen new product introductions.
For example, JDS Industries, Sioux Falls, SD, sells acrylic sheets printed
with colorful marbleized patterns. Acrylic is easy to fabricate by sawing,
routing and thermobending, and can be marked using a variety of techniques,
including rotary engraving, laser engraving, sandblasting, hot stamping,
screen printing and pad printing. The only methods that really dont
work well for marking on acrylic are diamond engraving and sublimation.
is a thermosetting material, meaning that heat and pressure are used to
manufacture it and it doesnt soften or melt when heated. Its
a hard plastic (it cant be sheared; you need a saw to fabricate
it), its abrasion resistant, heat resistant, strong, rigid and chemically
inert. These unique qualities make it a good choice for industrial applications
like machine tags and legend plates.
mainstay in the engraving industry for many years, conventional
flexible engraving stock is a pliable material typically made
up of modified acrylic or ABS. This plastic consists of two separate extruded
sheets, a cap and a core, and is often referred to as a capped
plastic. The cap is about .010" thick and is laminated to a contrasting
colored core material. Common thicknesses include 1/32", 1/16",
3/32" and 1/8"; three-ply materials are available in 1/16",
1/8" and 1/4". This material is available in a wide variety
of colors and woodgrains with either satin or matte finishes.
Microsurface flexible engraving stock is very similar to conventional
flexible engraving stock except that it has a very thin cap layer, typically
about .003" thick. The manufacturing process involves using heat
and pressure to fuse a thin color or pattern to the core material. There
is an enormous selection of colors available in microsurface plastics,
including metallics, woodgrains, geometric patterns and holographic designs.
One of the newer options is ultra-thin flexible engraving stock,
a material made from two-ply engraving stock with a very thin impact acrylic
core and very thin, i.e. .003", cap. The overall thickness of these
materials is only about .020"-.030". Even thinner, engravable
plastic films are also available with a total thickness of
about .004"-.008". Some of these products have a self-adhesive
backing while others are available with magnetic backings. Ultra-thin
engraving stock is available in brass and aluminum look-alikes and a variety
of colors in both sheets and rolls. The notable characteristic about all
of these materials is that they are extremely flexible and bendable so
that they can be put on nearly anything, e.g. curved and tapered surfaces
like a flashlight or coffee mug.
Laserable flexible engraving stock is similar to
microsurface engraving stock except that it has been specially formulated
to resist burning, melting and discoloration, which are common side effects
from a laser beam. Laserable plastics are typically acrylic-based and
are available in two- and three-ply configurations.
Although unheard of just a few years ago, today you can even buy sublimatable
plastic. These plastics are reinforced with fiberglass
to withstand temperatures up to 400º F. The material is available in white
to show off sublimations colors; sublimatable ultra-thin films are
Phenolic, conventional engraving stock, microsurface engraving stock,
ultra-thin plastic, laserable plastic and sublimatable plastic can all
be rotary engraved, screen printed and pad printed. With the exception
of phenolic, these plastics can also be hot stamped. Laser engraving works
best with laser engravable plastic, although you can also use a laser
to engrave phenolic, microsurface and ultra-thin plastics (results may
vary). Only sublimatable plastics can be sublimated.
Metal Engraving Materials
Metal has long been and continues to be a popular engraving material in
the engraving industry. It has a variety of uses including trophy plates,
plaque plates and signage.
Although one of the more expensive choices in engraving materials, brass
is always an elegant choice. It has a beautiful gold appearance and can
be purchased in sheets or blanks with either bright or matte finishes
in .020" and .025" thicknesses. Brass manufactured for engraving
is usually polished and finished with a clear lacquer or colored enamel
coating (various enamel colors are available).
Another, newer option in brass is a thinner version of the gold-colored
material. JDS Industries has introduced a .016" thickness as a less
expensive choice when it comes to brass. That cuts a little bit
of the cost out of the brass, explains JDS Scott Sletten.
Thats been real popular.
Brass-plated steel is an alternative to brass that has gained
popularity in recent years. This material consists of a steel-based product
laminated with a coating of brass and, typically, topped with colored
enamel such as black. When you engrave or laser brass-plated steel it
comes out looking just like solid brass. Brass-plated steel is a much
more cost-effective option than brass, costing up to 40% less.
Aluminum has a whitish-silver color and, while not
as attractive as brass, is a more economical option, costing about half
the price. Aluminum is available in polished and finished sheets or precut
blanks. Lacquer-coated aluminum has a clear or color-tinted coating; you
can also purchase aluminum that is coated with an opaque enamel. Anodized
aluminum has a durable matte coating and is available in various colors.
Stainless steel is primarily made up of iron, chromium and carbon
and is strong, durable, inert and heat-resistant. Because of these characteristics,
this metal is primarily used for special, industrial applications.
Laserable metal was developed for use with CO2
lasers, since these lasers cannot engrave bare metal but they can
cut through the coating on metal. Laser engravable metal consists of a
brass, aluminum or steel sheet that has been polished to a bright luster,
coated with a clear lacquer and then coated again with a (usually) colored
can also purchase brass, aluminum and brass-plated steel sheets designed
specially for sublimation.
Sublimatable metal features a special,
sublimation-receptive coating that is either clear or white (to really
show off colorful sublimatable images).
As mentioned, CO2 lasers can only mark on coated
metals, not on the metal itself. And sublimation will only work on metals
with a sublimation-receptive coating. Sandblasting and hot stamping are
not recommended for use on metal.
Most suppliers in the industry will handle custom requests when it comes
to engraving materials, whether you need a certain color or a special
fabricated product. For example, JDS and Johnson Plastics, Minneapolis,
MN, will put different cap colors on different core colors; and most companies
like Plastic-Plus Awards, Charlotte, NC, and JDS offer custom fabrication
Keep in mind, though, that all suppliers stress the fact that while custom
materials and fabrication are always an option, they can be costly unless
ordered in large quantities. We will definitely do custom quotes
on fabricated parts, explains Zeda Blau, Horizons Inc., Cleveland,
OH. But like everything else, quantity equals economy of scale.
So if youre calling to get a custom quote on ten parts, we can do
them, its just going to cost a great deal of money.
Whats In Now?
As far as traditional substrates go, the current engraving materials market
is seeing some new twists on some favorite standbys, such as JDS
marbleized acrylic, mentioned earlier, and new color combinations in conventional
and microsurface plastic engraving stocks.
Rowmark has recently introduced a new line of conventional plastic engraving
stock called Granites Deluxe. This product was designed as an alternative
to solid surface materials. The plastic is a 1/8" thick, two-ply
acrylic product that looks like real granite, but offers the engraving
ease of plastic engraving stock. When engraved, the underlying core color
of the material shows through, unlike solid surface material, which typically
requires a secondary paint-filling step in order to provide contrast between
the engraved areas and the material color. Granites Deluxe is an acrylic
based material, making it a good choice for sign-making applications,
and is available in 15 different color combinations. Its more
of a high-end material, explains Jim Fichter, BF Plastics, Inc.,
North Lawrence, OH, a company that is currently distributing the line.
Its not something you would want to put in a grocery store
or supermarket. Its more for the higher-end hotels, office buildings
and things like that. Catering even further to the architectural
signage market, Rowmark has also introduced a line of conventional plastic
in earthtone colors, which, according to Fichter, appears to be a current
trend in architectural signage.
While we continue to see new versions of our favorite engravable materials,
industry experts unanimously agree that the real growth right now is in
sublimatable and laserable materials.
Laser Engraving Continues to Grow and Grow
Innovative Plastics Incorporated (IPI) of Algonquin, IL, manufactures
one of the broadest lines of laserable plastics in the industry. According
to IPIs president, Don DAntonio, We started developing
laser engravable plastics about three years ahead of the rest of the pack,
and laserables represent our main focus over the past few years. We now
offer 125 separate combinations of laserable plastic.
Plastic-Plus Awards is a full-line IPI
distributor with about 300 different plastic engraving material products,
including 125 different laserable plastics in various thicknesses and
many new colors. Lasers are fast, they are easy, the detail is very
precise, says Plastic-Plus Michael Hicks. Very detailed
logos can be engraved very quickly.
As a result of the continuing rise in popularity of lasers as a major
marking method, suppliers have made changes in their inventory to cater
to customers with lasers as well as customers who rotary engrave (and,
of course, those who offer both services).
"The current direction and trends are really towards laserable products,
states JDS Scott Sletten. As lasers become more and more popular,
Im seeing more and more laserable plastics sold all the time. It
used to be that retailers had only one kind of plastic and that was engravable
plastic. But now that the laserable (plastic) has come out, I think that
a lot more people are carrying only laserable material that they can either
laser or engrave, depending on what their needs are.
Rich Zydonik, Rowmark, Inc., Findlay, OH, agrees that theres still
a demand for rotary engravable plastics, but there is significant development
in laserable products taking place. The core products that we have
offered for years are still there. Seventy-percent of engravers worldwide
still use rotary methods. However, new products have to take lasering
into account, Zydonik says. Over the past several years, there
has been a shift towards laserable products. As a result of these trends,
we try to provide products that are both laserable and rotary engravable.
Jim Fichter of BF Plastics says that laserables are a big part of whats
happening right now. Definitely thats been the fastest growing
of all the different types of materials. As more and more lasers are sold
. . . sales of that material are following, he says. All the
old rotary engraving materials are still going strong. It (the laser)
has just added a new dimension to the availability of the products.
James Rubenstein of Leathertone, Inc.,
Woonsocket, RI, agrees that laserables are todays growth area. Our
Laser Grav line now has over 30 standard colors, including metallics,
and were seeing that our distributors are increasing their inventory
of this material. Our MetalFlex line which is a laserable metallic material
is also gaining popularity as a substitute for brass for trophy and award
Mike Fruciano, LaserBits, Phoenix, AZ, says that since the emergence of
laser engraving in our industry, existing core engraving materials have
been improved immensely for laser engraving purposes. Id say
in the last three years theres been a huge evolution of the existing
products. This would be products like lacquer-coated brass plates, engraving
plastic, sign plastic, things of that nature, Fruciano says. And
whats happened is that the manufacturers have really started to
fine tune those formulations for laser engraving. So, the net result is
that the productivity for the shop owner goes way up because cleanup is
less, the quality is so much better, they have a much broader range of
power settings to work with so its very easy to get first-run results
with these improved engraving materials. And thats typical of materials
that have been around for a number of years. They just continue to get
better and better, and now theyre excellent.
Fruciano goes on to say that theres been tremendous developments
in new laser engraving materials as well. One of the major improvements
that hes seen is in the area of thermobonding, the process
where the heat energy from a laser bonds a special coating onto a base
material. Where previously CO2 lasers could only
engrave through coated metals, this process allows you to apply a thermobonding
material to bare metal and engrave through it to leave an image.
The original product for that was a material called Cermark, which works
with metal. Now there are many other materials that are starting to evolve,
even the metal material has gotten considerably better, Fruciano
says, adding that there are some new products out now and some that will
be introduced later this year. The thermobonding products that are currently
available can be sprayed or brushed on; there is also a thermobonding
tape on the market that you apply to a material, engrave with
a laser and then wash off to reveal the image. Now there are materials
for tiles, too, that are excellent, he says. were going
to see more of these kinds of materials become available for both metal
Rowmark has expanded its laserable materials selection with ColorCast,
a brand new line just unveiled at the Las Vegas ARA show in March. This
new line consists of a cast acrylic sheet material that is harder and
clearer than extruded acrylics, allowing you to perform fine, detailed
rotary or laser engraving. According to the company, ColorCast acrylic
can be used indoors or out because it is UV stable and weather resistant.
Rowmark says that this new material is great for applications such as
point-of-purchase displays, outdoor signage and trophy components.
IPI has introduced several new laserable materials. Our Laser Shop
group of materials encompasses five separate groups of materials, including
the Laser II line, Laser Thins, Gold Coats and
Heavy Metals. One of the newest products is IPIs Laser
Ultra Thins. Its four mils thick, UV stable and has a self-adhesive
back. Its so thin, its very, very flexible says IPIs
Don DAntonio. The company has also introduced several new colors
in its The Laserables-Heavy Metal brand, a line of impact acrylic featuring
a metallic foil cap that looks like metal, but when laser or rotary engraved
at a depth of .003", reveals a contrasting core underneath. New colors
include several shades of gold along with interesting colors like Tahitian
Bronze. DAntonio says that having a selection of varying shades
of gold, even if they only vary slightly, is great for customers who are
looking for an exact color, e.g. discriminating corporate clients.
Laser engravable metal is an area where major innovations are taking place.
I think the laser engravers have changed the metal industry,
says Plastic-Plus Michael Hicks. What a plaque plate is today
and what it used to be is a lot different . . . For years, all we had was
standard .020" brass and .020" aluminum. Today, he says,
Plastic-Plus Awards has doubled its metal inventory, carrying standard aluminum
and brass and laserable aluminum and brass. And now theyve
come out with brass steel, which is kind of like a hybrid of aluminum and
brass. In addition to offering various types of metal, Hicks says
that they continue to stock more colors as they are introduced.
One of the most exciting laserable materials to hit the market is a new
and unique product called AlumaMARK from Horizons Incorporated, Cleveland,
OH. You might be familiar with this company from their MetalPhoto imaging
process (images are photographically embedded into photosensitive anodized
aluminum sheets) and their reputation for inventing new ways to image. The
companys new flagship product is a CO2 laserable
aluminum sheet material that has been chemically formulated to turn image
areas black when laser engraved. AlumaMARK is available in satin and matte
silver and satin gold in various sheet sizes and .005" and .020"
thicknesses, with or without adhesive. It will also be available in precut
blanks (Horizons was working on a blanks program when this article went
to press) and several different colors.
The difference in our material and everybody elses material
is that everybody else engraves, explains Horizons Zeda Blau.
They use their laser to cut into the material. Most materials have
a core and a top coat, and they engrave through that top coat to reveal
the core, she says. It (AlumaMARK) is a coated product, but
the coating isnt manufactured. So what you get is not really an etch
at all. Its fairly smooth to the touch . . . its really what
they call a color transformation. With the correct settings, the lasered
image turns black and the metal background remains silver or gold. Blau
says that AlumaMARK has a variety of applications, including plaques, trophies,
signs and badges as well as some industrial applications such as ID plates,
nameplates and bar code labels.
Michael Hicks says that Plastic-Plus is excited about distributing AlumaMARK
in 2004. The interest is extremely high because everybody has always
wanted a metal product that turns black when you laser it, he says.
When you laser engrave plastics, you do get black underneath but theres
just something about metal . . . it has a different look to it. This
new product will also save engravers time, he says. Most times to
get black on gold you have to do a lot of oxidization with a liquid oxidizer.
Its very time-consuming.
IPIs Don DAntonio sums up the industrys increasing selection
of laserable materials by stating, The market is now driving new product
development. Our customers tell us they are looking for new market avenues,
so we pursue these trends. For example, our customers are now demanding
a durable hardcoat surface, extreme UV resistance and new sales concepts.
Our Night Lights material, for instance, glows in the dark and
our Reflectors series reflects light in a manner similar to
a bicycle reflector.
Sublimation Is Hot, Hot, Hot!
Anything to do with sublimation is very, very popular right now,
says Scott Sletten, JDS Industries. Sublimation is sizzling right now because
its different, its easy, its colorful and its affordable.
In recent years, Universal Woods, a major pioneer in the development of
sublimatable materials, has introduced new and better sublimatable plastic,
metal and prefabricated blanks. The company makes ongoing efforts to introduce
new sublimatable products practically every day.
Margaret Johnson, Johnson Plastics, feels
that mechanical engraving has more or less reached its plateau and sublimation
is really an area that is happening right now. In fact, Johnson
Plastics recently acquired Xpres Corporation, a sublimation equipment and
accessory supplier. We see a definite trend towards sublimation and
all the options it has to offer, she says, adding that many of these
products work double-duty because they can also be lasered or rotary engraved.
Plastic-Plus Awards carries a full line of Unisub sublimatable metal and
is also working on developing its own line. Hicks says that laser engraving
is extremely popular right now, but sublimation is also a very hot area
of the industry. The offset (of laser engraving) is the high equipment
cost and so thats where sublimation comes into the mix because it
is economical, you can add color to the product and you can get into it
fairly economically . . . instead of $20,000, you may be able to get a whole
system with a press and everything for $3,000-$5,000. So youre talking
about a big difference in the cost theyre outlaying in the beginning.
But theres a tradeoff there, too, he says, explaining that sublimation
is a more cumbersome process than laser engraving. Theres an
offset there. And it really depends on what end result you need. I think
they are both growing.
While sublimatable and laserable materials dominate the industry right now
in terms of new product availability, are there any engraving materials
that have declined in use? Suppliers agree that materials like stainless
steel and phenolic arent used much in this industry, partly because
these substrates have specialized applications that fall outside the realm
of the standard award and gift markets. Phenolic is a product that
was really used 30-40 years ago and you dont find much of it anymore,
says Sletten. Its an old, real hard material. Its also
very difficult to work with, so most people have completely gotten away
from phenolic. You do see it still specified in government contracts, things
As lasers have become more and more popular, some conventional plastic engraving
stocks have become less so. Traditional capped plastics require
engraving at .012" or more; not a problem for a rotary engraver, but
lasers have difficulty penetrating the thick cap. The thick cap also prohibits
engraving intricate details, a major highlight of the laser engraving process.
Plus, as noted, many suppliers and retailers opt for materials that can
be both rotary and laser engraved.
As architectural design trends come and go certain looks and styles of engraving
materials tend to decline in popularity. For example, Zydonik says, Products
that have a woodgrain to them have lost favor and have been replaced by
more architecturally interesting colors.
of AlumaMark, the metal product that turns black when laser engraved
without a time-consuming liquid oxidizer. Photo courtesy of Plastic-Plus,
Weights from Rowmark, Inc., Findlay, OH, is made of a heavy-gauge,
three-ply polymer sheet designed to withstand the harshest elements,
making it a great choice for exterior applications, like marinas and
So whats on the engraving materials
horizon? Manufacturers indicate that one of their primary goals has been
and still is to make work easier for engravers by introducing new materials
that work better than their predecessors. Like everything else in
the marketplace, they want to be able to do things quickly, says
Horizons Zeda Blau. And if you can deliver a product that
is meeting all of their needs so that they dont have to go through
many, many interim steps, youre probably ahead of the game. I think
we speak to that with being able to laser black rather than having to
do a second step of actually color filling.
LaserBits Mike Fruciano forecasts additional improvements in laser
engravable products and more variety in the very near future. He says
that, in addition to new and different color combinations, technologically
advanced materials like AlumaMARK and other laser-sensitive substrates
will continue to evolve. And, as technological advancements are made,
the image quality will be far better than we could have imagined.
Rowmarks Rich Zydonik says he sees other trends coming to light
in the coming year, such as plastics with higher UV ratings, new materials
that have more rubber and flexibility and screen printed and painted plastic.
In response to some of these trends, Rowmark has introduced a new line
of plastic engraving stock called the Heavyweights. This new plastic is
a heavy-gauge, three-ply polymer sheet designed to withstand the harshest
elements, making it a great choice for exterior applications, even in
demanding environments like marinas and playgrounds.
Looking For A Great Supplier
Fortunately, this industry has several very good, reputable suppliers
whose sole purpose is to serve you the best way that they can. So, what
should you look for when it comes to purchasing engraving materials?
Zeda Blau from Horizons Incorporated says that with some products, especially
the newer ones, finding a company that can provide good technical assistance
is important. As the AlumaMARK product has been refined, manufacturing-wise,
industry acceptance has grown by leaps and bounds, in part because of
education. This past year, sales were vastly better than the year
before. We are adding more distributors and more people have learned about
the product. But I think the crucial thing is educating people on the
use of the product, says Blau. In other words, this is not
one more sublimatable substrate. This is a whole new technology. And so
a whole new technology requires education and it requires a lot of information
out there in the marketplace and it requires a lot of technical assistance
on our part, which we are very well-equipped to do because most of our
products are technologically different from most other products on the
Rich Zydonik says that there are several important qualities that you
should look for when seeking out a good engraving materials supplier.
Obviously, quality of product, he states. But beyond
that, consistency, where color, gauge and finish are repeatable from lot
to lot. A strong warranty program, should you encounter a problem, is
important as well. Strong technical support, product availability and
continuous supply, and innovation of new materials and colors are also
Ultra, a versatile 2 -ply material perfect for rotary and laser
engraving can be used indoors and out. Photo courtesy of Gravograph-New
Hermes, Duluth, GA.
Michael Hicks says that you need to look for a wholesale supplier who
can meet most of your needs. It depends on which market youre
after, but much of the customer base that we sell to is an awards dealer
and if youre an awards dealer you would want a supplier that could
supply you with all of the laserable items you need, all of the sublimatable
items you need as well as all of the award components that you need,
he says. Hicks adds that retailers sometimes dont look closely enough
at what they are paying for in freight, which can really eat into your
gross margin. By consolidating some of that freight, he explains, you
can sometimes save substantial amounts of money in freight costs, not
to mention saving the time of contacting multiple suppliers.
Another important consideration is the
location of your supplier. Meaning, how fast can they get the materials,
says Scott Sletten. Most people generally want to buy from somebody
thats either next-day or second-day from them. That way they dont
have to wait a week to get the material. You have to look at reliability
of the supplier and what kind of inventory the supplier carries.
Sletten also says that suppliers with multiple warehouses are usually
very beneficial. Lets say you need 29 sheets of a pine green
and white plastic and weve got 10 sheets in the warehouse near you.
Well, we have 9 warehouses nationwide so I can probably just ship it in
from another warehouse, rather than you having to make several phone calls.
Jim Fichter from BF Plastics says that your suppliers stock is a
big factor. The most important thing is a supplier that has the
materials in stocka large stocking distributor, he says. In
our situation, the most important factor is to have the product on the
shelf so that when people need it, we can ship it immediately, and that
means everything. Of course, that also means a large selection. Youve
got to have everything; you cant just stock the basics.
Getting the Most fromYour Suppliers
Once you find a good engraving materials
supplier, the next step is to develop a good relationship with them. There
are several things you can do to make sure you use what your suppliers
have to offer in the best way possible.
Margaret Johnson stresses the importance of communication with your supplier.
Customers need to talk to us more about specific projects that they
are undergoing, she says. Sometimes they get these great projects
but it seems like theyre afraid to share it in case someone else
might get in on the act. But, suppliers sometimes have suggestions, such
as alternate materials or ways to cut costs or things like that . . .
there are sometimes ways that we can help them if we know specifically
what they are trying to do. For example, theyll call up and ask
for a very unusual product; if we dont have it, well ask what
they are trying to accomplish. If they dont tell us, we cant
really help them. There might be an alternative product that we have that
would solve their problem.
Scott Sletten agrees with the concept of communication. One of the
biggest things is communication. If you need something special, make sure
that you let them know what you need.
Rich Zydonik says that getting the most from your supplier can mean communicating
on several different levels. For example, he says its important
to become familiar with the products and technical specifications that
the supplier offers and to ask for recommendations for particular applications.
Also, Order in sufficient quantities to take advantage of quantity
discounts and respect supplier lead times. If you are a large user, work
with the supplier to maintain stock of commonly used items, he says.
Michael Hicks points out that if you are experiencing problems with a
material, be sure to rule out the technical aspects of engraving first.
Youll hear people complain now and then about the plastics,
but these lasers are so different. Every laser tube is different from
Hicks encourages retailers to take advantage of all of your suppliers
resources. They (customers) actually use us as their warehouse.
We stock over 6,500 products, whether its awards or engraving products,
at seven facilities, he says. (Plastic-Plus Awards recently opened
its 7th warehouse in Virgina). And so rather than them stocking
all those products, they can call me anytime before 5 oclock and
we ship their order that day and they have it the next day, in most cases.
So it allows you to offer so much more without really having to invest
in the inventory.
Its interesting to see the changes that are happening in the industry
when it comes to engraving materials, especially in light of hot marking
methods like laser engraving and sublimation. Its clear from talking
to suppliers that they really have their fingers on the pulse of whats
happening in this industry in terms of what you want, what you need and
what will be happening in the future. Chances are, if you are looking
for a certain engraving material for a certain application, its
out there. Take advantage of what your suppliers have to offer and you
will be well on your way to a more profitable, and enjoyable, business.