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220 S. Wabash Ave. Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 431-9588

Engraving and Laser Etching

While we do not do any engraving or laser-etching in-house, we partner with several engravers who are very experienced and give us great service. They do laser engraving, dye sublimation printing and rotary engraving. When a logo is required on the plate, we have them do laser engraving or dye sublimation printing from camera ready art or pdf's. We are called upon, quite often, to incorporate plates into presentation framing and can handle just about any project design.You will see engraving projects scattered throughout the section of our site called "The Framescape Gallery."

Here are some FAQ's about engraved plates:

How do I order a plate for my framing project?

We will ask you to bring in a typed or laser-printed copy of what you want on the plate, or you can email it to us as a Word or .pdf document. If you have a logo that is available in the form of a .pdf or camera-ready line art, you can provide us with that in your email or when you stop in to our store. We have been editing copy for plates for decades and know what looks good, what to capitalize, what type sizes and styles work best, etc. Often the plate size is driven by what size the frame needs to be. We will not take plate copy over the phone, so be prepared to bring it to us or send it to us over the Web.

How much do engraved plates cost?

Depending upon whether the plate is rotary engraved, lasered or dye sublimated, the cost will vary. On average, most plates that we do, these days, with 3 lines of copy that are 3 to 4" wide and 1 1/2 to 2 inches tall run anywhere from $15 to $25 per plate. If you wish to supply us with your own plates that have engraving on them and need to have names or other information added to them, we can have that done. Our engraving partner uses rotary engraving for that sort of add-on engraving. If you just need plates, with no framing project in mind, we can get them for you as well.

What type styles are available?

Generally, any font available in Microsoft Word is a usable font. While we do not have access to every single font out there, we know what looks good and what is readable once engraved. A Serif-type of font, such as Times New Roman looks good. Sometimes, if the client wants something simple and really readable, we might use Helvetica Medium as a font.

How does the engraver put the letters onto the plate?

Our engravers uses three different methods to make your plate. One way is the old fashioned way: With a pantograph-style machine that cuts the letter into the metal while tracing a template. Sometimes, it is a manual machine, other times it is computer driven and has a spinning rotary bit that cuts the metal. Another method is to use a laser-etching machine that burns the image into the face of the plate. The former is nice for very formal plates, but the laser etching method is more versatile for such things as adding logos to your plate. Rotary engraving is used for high-end, gold-plated plates or if you are trying to match a metal plate on another frame that was engraved that way. The third way is called Dye Sublimation. It is, essentially, printing on metal plates. This allows us to imprint colored logos in addition to black verbiage. Most of the time, these days, we use laser engraving or dye sublimation, which can be done faster. Tell us what you need done and we will decide which process is appropriate.

How do you attach the plates to the framing?

That depends upon where it needs to go. If it is being attached to the outside of the frame, itself, we will usually ask that nail holes be punched into the plate so that we can attach the plate to the frame with small brass nails or screws. If that is not practical, we may use epoxy or silicone adhesive. More often, we try to incorporate the plate into the mat design, so that the plate is under glass and integrated into the matting design. We will cut, what is known as, a "keyhole opening" in the mat, either 1/8 to 1/4" larger than the plate all around. The plate will, then, be inlaid into that opening and glued to another piece of mat board behind the top or main matting, either the same color or a contrasting color. That way, the glass is not sitting right on top of the plate and it looks way better than a plate just stuck onto the face of the mat.

The bottom, "Thank You" frame shown in the photos at right also have a mat design element called a V-Groove. It is a v-shaped channel cut in the face of the mat board (that does not cut all the way through the mat) and shows the color of the mat board's middle. In this case, the mat was a yellow-core, black-surfaced mat board from Crescent Brands called "Color Core." Note that the frame it is in has a yellow line element on its face. The V-groove starts at the left, center of the keyhole opening containing the plate and encircles the artwork being showcased. It, then, proceeds to return to the opposite side of the keyhole opening containing the plate. This looks much nicer than just two openings in the mat and, visually, pulls it all together. We can do that for you too.