The Basics of Rotary Engraving

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The basics of rotary engraving: a rotating tool with a cutting lip is dug into a piece of material to remove material in its path. (A cutter or bit is the common term; the old term is needle). The cutters come in various configurations and tip sizes to allow more or less material to be removed. With manual engravers much of the machine’s speeds and feeds are controlled by the operator. 

The depth of engraving is controlled by a couple of ways. A cutter is stopped by a defined amount by a stepper motor or a mechanical stop. Most utilized is a nose (a non-cutting ring around cutter) that allows depth to be regulated.

-Fred Schwartz, Quality One Engravers

Fred Schwartz

Fred Schwartz is the project engineer at Quality One Engravers located in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Quality One Engravers has been in engraving industry for over 35 years and has a wealth of knowledge on old and newer engravers, as well as software, parts, service, tips, and tricks.


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