There is a variety of advice and ideas for the best way to laser engrave glassware.  The two most prominent methods appear to be either applying a small amount of wet dish soap to the engraved area, to placing a paper towel and wetting that.

I have used both of these methods and having engraved many many glasses over the last few years, thought I would share my experience of using both.


Dish Soap

This method involves applying a small drop of washing-up liquid to the glass and then applying a small amount of water and rubbing that around the glass surface to engrave.

Pros

Quick and easy to apply

Cons

  • If the soap gets on the laser machine rotary rollers, it can cause the glass to slip and not rotate correctly, leaving a ruined product.
  • Can leave slightly patchy results, depending how evenly and/or thinned out the soap was applied.
  • Results are not consistent.


Paper Towel

This method involves cutting a blue paper tissue/towel (the kind you find in many washrooms) into a square/rectangular size, slightly larger than the area you are engraving.  You then wet the paper with water (I cannot rave about this particular product enough as it consitantly sprays a fine mist of water) and smooth out any wrinkles or air bubbles.  Next I like to dry any water that has run off onto other parts of the glass especially any parts in contact with the rollers.

Pros

  • Excellent consistent results
  • You easily see where you have applied it.

Cons

  • Takes a little longer to prepare the glass (i.e. cutting and applying the paper tissue, carefully smoothing out wrinkles)


Conclusion

With the correct settings, the paper towel method is my go to method for engraving glassware.  It gives consistent results and only takes seconds longer than the soap method.

Do not forget to play around with your laser settings.  I find reducing the opacity of the illustrator artwork to 80% and using 30 speed and 100 power gives the best results.  It does depend on various conditions eg make and model and wattage of your laser machine, quality of the glassware etc but have a play around to find what works best for you.