In this process, your artwork is etched into (as in “deep,” “sub,” “down”) a copper or zinc printing plate – also called a die. Maximum size for these plates, and thus your engraving artwork, is 4.5 x 9 inches.
In the actual printing process, the finished plate is filled with ink, ensuring that all recesses are full. The plate’s surface is then wiped clean.
Next, slightly moistened paper is pressed against the engraving plate with immense pressure, literally pulling the ink from the plate’s sub-surface onto the substrate. This causes the engraving ink to sit high on top of your paper.
Steel plates are used for longer or repeat print runs, such as letterheads, stamps and currency, while less expensive copper plates are used for one-offs and shorter runs.
Colors and Inks
Even though most engraved pieces will have more classic colors like Gold, Black, Navy and Gray, engraving inks are available in a full spectrum of colors, from pastels to fluorescents. These colors are usually mixed to correspond with the Pantone system.
Due to its ability to render minute details, engraving remains the most astounding print reproduction process. (PRO members, be sure to check out your PRO Guide to Engraving for more!)