Which is Better? Laser Engraving vs Hand Engraving

Which is Better Laser Engraving vs Hand Engraving

So much in our lives is mass-produced. Our clothes, our food, our gadgets even our more personal items such as gifts, watches, trophies and jewellery. It’s no wonder then that engraving has surged in popularity as we crave ways to stand out and look to make our jewellery and other personal items unique by adding a personal touch.

Understanding Laser Engraving

To understand laser engraving it’s a good idea to take a look at how laser engraving works. Laser engraving uses a laser engraving machine. The machine is connected to a computer which has the laser engraving program installed on it. The chosen patterns, designs or lettering is either created in or uploaded onto the computer program. Pictures and/or photos can even be scanned and uploaded.

The laser engraving machine will then, using a highly concentrated laser beam, burn away material creating a replica of the picture, design or lettering on the chosen item.

Because the laser engraving tool moves how a pencil moves, machine engraving can create extremely detailed images and intricate designs.

The Art of Hand Engraving

Hand engraving is an art form, the technique takes a long time to learn and arguably a lifetime to master. There’s also no doubt that hearing something has been ‘hand engraved’ makes it sound more special. Having something engraved by hand means that replicating it exactly is unlikely, if not impossible.

However, due to the limitations of hand tools and the human holding them this means that although hand engraving can create detailed images it simply cannot match the level of intricacy and detail that modern technology in the form of laser technology.

Aesthetic Differences

When it comes to the aesthetic differences such as texture and depth of laser engraving and hand engraving the question of which is better depends on what you want.

A laser engraving machine will always be able to create a more consistent, uniform depth and texture whether you are creating one engraved item or 10, 000. Whereas with hand engraving there is likely to be those tiny differences in depth and texture that make hand engraved items truly unique.

Cost and Time Comparison

The speed of laser engraving far surpasses that of hand engraving. This, of course, impacts cost. Paying for hand-engraving means you are paying an artist for their time. With an engraving machine, there is the one-off cost of the machine itself, then minimal costs for machine upkeep, materials, energy use and a machine operator – still far less cost than hand engraving and can be done in a fraction of the time.

Precision vs Artistry

Rather than ask then what is better laser engraving or hand engraving maybe ask what you need in this situation, what suits your needs better, precision or artistry?


Although there are clear benefits to laser engraving; cost, time, detail of the laser engraved markings and the ability to exactly replicate any chosen design – there is also a certain lack of romance, or old-world charm to having something laser engraved rather than hand engraved.

Which is better? Perhaps there is no answer to that question and it is, at the end of the day, just a matter of preference.

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