Difference between Etching and Engraving

Laser engraving and laser etching are unique applications of laser technology with their distinct profile requirements, benefits and characteristics. With this in mind, it’s essential to update your terminology and understand the practical and technological benefits of these different laser applications. This way, you can determine what setting you should prefer for your next laser project. These methods refer to a different process when it comes to creating images, markings or designs on a selected material with a laser. Here is a list of our main differences that distinguish between these laser methods.

Physical effort required

Etching requires less effort because the etcher pulls the design through the wax. On the other hand, more physical effort is required in engraving because a tool has to be used to cut the metal.


While etching is the art of creating an image using acid that removes metal, engraving is a printing method in which an artist uses a pointed and sharp tool to cut lines on a metal surface.

Object size

The etching is suitable for small projects and thin materials. On the other hand, the engraving can be used for large materials.

Materials used

While etching is suitable for metallic materials, engraving can be applicable for materials such as stones, plastics, wood and metal.

Effect on materials

The laser engraving creates a conical depression on the material surface. Laser etching creates a high-contrast marking on the surface of the material by evaporating only the surface layer of the material.

Laser power

Laser engraving makes the deepest cut and vaporizes the material in its way. Effective laser engraving requires the use of a high-temperature laser, and engravers often choose the power of their laser in the maximum configuration for best results, especially when using a robust material such as anodized aluminum or stainless steel.Laser etching also melts the surface of the material with heat, creating a slightly enlarged engraving pattern of your choice.


Laser engraving is an ideal method for marking parts and objects where high wear is to be expected. If you engrave a jewelry design with a laser, it will fade quickly if the piece is touched frequently, as the depth is only 0.001 inches. The deepest cuts in laser engraving are ideal for creating permanent markings on a variety of materials. Laser engraving is not appropriate for safety-critical parts since the etching process can structurally damage or damage the engraved part. A Laser-etched markings are less durable and are suitable for surfaces with little wear.