Laser engravers are some of the busiest professionals out there, particularly if they’re in the market for creating unique gifts. Practically every other day is commemorative of something these days. From International Women’s Day to World Heart Day, the number of holidays seems to be growing every year. Even without them, there are enough mainstream special occasions that the demand for personalized gifts has never been higher.
Read on to find out more about personalized laser engraved gifts, which materials you can etch, cut and mark and a list of the best custom gift ideas for each holiday season.
What Is Custom Laser Engraving?
Laser engraving, cutting and marking have been used in industrial settings for decades. However, in recent years, smaller, more affordable laser cutting machines have been invented, opening it up to small business owners and keen entrepreneurs. In some cases, you use the laser cutter to cut all the way through a material, but it’s more frequently used to add designs, finishing touches and personalized flourishes to gifts, trophies and keepsakes.
Laser technology is used in a broad range of fields, such as optical storage, military and defense, medical devices, heat treatment, automotive and aerospace. You don’t need to be a fine art graduate to use these machines, either. They work using 2D images that are created using a computer and inputted to the machine digitally. Personalized laser designs are easy to create, and the personalized engraving machine is simple to use.
There are a few different types of engraving you can use to personalize the perfect gifts for your clients:
- Laser engraving: In this instance, the laser cuts through the surface of the material, resulting in a cavity shaped according to the customer’s chosen design. You can feel and see laser engravings, which gives gifts a pleasant tactile element as well as an appealing aesthetic. The maximum depth of an engraving is usually around 0.02 inches — going any deeper could result in excessive burn or warping.
- Laser marking: In laser marking, a low-powered laser beam interacts with specialty paint on the surface of a material to create a superficial design. In this instance, the surface of the material remains smooth, but the design is clearly visible to the eye.
- Laser etching: Laser etching is a delicate process, with the laser only producing enough heat to create a superficial mark on the surface of your chosen material. The etched area melts and expands, which results in a raised finish with enhanced contrast. Laser etching never goes deeper than 0.001 inch into the material, making it perfect for work with plated metals, polymers and ceramics.
Websites like Etsy let entrepreneurs sell their designs to captive audiences around the world, but it’s easier than ever to set up your own e-commerce website. If you opt for the latter, you get to keep all the revenue, whereas the website will take a cut if you opt for an online marketplace. Just keep in mind that Etsy does the marketing for you, while you’ll have to promote yourself if you go down the full DIY route.
You can add bespoke designs to single products or set the laser cutting machine up to do large batches. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to add graphics, names, logos, quotes and everything in between to any material that’s compatible with your laser engraver.
Eligible Materials for Custom Engraving
You can only make a great gift using the right material. Some substrates work better than others when it comes to etching, marking and engraving, so always check your manufacturer manual before commencing a task. You’ll need to adjust the laser’s settings according to which material you use, but there are plenty to choose from:
- Stone such as slate, marble, granite, worry stones and much more can be laser engraved.
- Glass comes in handy for a variety of uses, from monogrammed glassware to hygienic cutting boards.
- Plastic can be used for name tags and key chains, as well as phone cases, acrylic business cards and signage.
- Metal usually needs to be coated with a substance that allows you to etch the surface to let you create personalized spoons, stainless steel cocktail mugs and calling cards.
- There are many different types of wood you can laser etch to create customized picture frames, wine boxes, gift boxes, ornaments and baby blocks.
- Leather works well with a laser cutter, but it requires practice to create personalized passport holders, wallets, dog collars, bracelets and book covers.
- Jewelry is, of course, one of the most popular items for personalization.
- You can even engrave photographs onto glass, stone, metal, plastic and wood.
Corporate Custom Gifts
Promotional products for businesses will be a core area of your business as a laser engraving professional. Companies deliver gifts to their corporate clients, whether they’re long-time collaborators or potential partners. By adding the personal touch, brands can stand out head and shoulders above their competitors. Customization in the corporate world doesn’t just have to be for clients, however. Providing employees with branded free gifts is a sure-fire way to inspire loyalty while dressing your staff up as walking advertisements!
Long-time and loyal customers, as well as your top spenders, will also appreciate free gifts. They’re more likely to show them off to loved ones if they feature a customized monogram or relevant quote. Here are some great ideas for corporate gifts:
- Key rings
- Car air fresheners
- Refrigerator magnets
Everyone has a birthday. As such, making bespoke birthday gifts means your market is practically the entire world — provided you sell your wares online. Customization can be the difference between your gift disappearing at the bottom of the pile and standing proud in a prime location in the recipient’s bedroom. Some ideas for personalized birthday gifts include:
- Jewelry boxes
- Toy cars
- Customized gift sets
- Make-up cases
Newlyweds get piles of gifts, many of which they’ve chosen themselves on their wedding gift list. Customers can add an element of surprise by personalizing gifts so the happy couple gets a little more than they expected. Here are some top custom gift ideas for newlyweds:
- Wine glasses
- Crockery sets
- Chopping boards
- Picture frames
When anniversary time comes around, it’s a good idea to be prepared and select a high-quality gift. There aren’t many feelings worse than receiving a beautiful, bespoke gift from your wife and all you’ve gotten her is a coffee mug. Laser engravers can cash in on anniversary celebrations by promoting products that match up to the anniversary gifts by year:
- One year: Paper
- Two years: Cotton
- Three years: Leather
- Four years: Flowers
- Five years: Wood
- 10 years: Aluminum
- 15 years: Crystal
- 20 years: China
- 30 years: Pearl
- 40 years: Ruby
- 50 years: Gold
- 60 years: Diamond
Christmas is many people’s favorite holiday, and it’s the one where the most money is spent each year. For a laser engraving business, it’s a hugely busy time. It’s not just personalized gifts you’ll be busy crafting but also decorations, cards, bunting, candles, gift boxes, cutlery and much more. Here are some great ideas for stocking fillers:
- Hand sanitizer holders
- Bottle openers
- Cheese boards
- Wireless chargers
- Trinket boxes
- Ring boxes
New Baby Gifts
Bringing a new baby into the world is one of the most exciting times of a person’s life. It’s also one of the most expensive! As such, the best new baby gifts are practical and often wearable. Let’s take a look at some awesome customized baby gift ideas:
- Sippy cups
- High chair covers
Mother’s Day Gifts
Mom is a pretty special person for most people. She takes care of you, loves you, gives you advice, helps you when you need it and probably loves you more than anyone in the world. Help customers make their mom’s special day extra-special by offering the following personalized gifts:
- Prosecco with her name on it
- Acrylic word search
- Crafting box
- Memory jar
Father’s Day Gifts
Dad is pretty special, too, and usually not too difficult to buy for. Most people tend to buy their dads similar gifts, so include the following options in your marketing materials leading up to Christmas:
- BBQ tools
- Pocket knife
- Cocktail set
- Golf balls
- Polar Camel drinkware
No matter which audience you create it for, the popularity of bespoke apparel is soaring. Businesses can use custom laser etching for uniforms, and individuals love buying items that tell the world what they’re all about. You can add meaningful quotes, graduation year, sports club name, individual names, the name or image of a favorite famous person and more. Some of the clothing items you can customize include:
- Polo shirts
- Workout gear
Get Into Laser Cutting Today
As you can see from the list above, the possibilities when it comes to customized laser cut gifts are practically endless. Combine this with the fact that customization is one of the hottest trends on the market right now and it’s clear why buying a laser cutting machine is an excellent investment.
The overhead for setting up a laser engraving company is minimal; you don’t need to be an artist, and you can set up a workshop at home. What are you waiting for? Stop dreaming about becoming your own boss and start doing it today!