inlay plaque laser engraving customization recognition inlayed ceramic tile full-color print

Term of the Week: Inlay

The Term of the Week is a weekly feature where A&E turns to industry experts to define common tools, processes, language, etc. used in the awards, engraving, and personalization industry, including terminology within the business realm. Contact A&E's digital content editor, Julia Schroeder, if you're interested in contributing and for an opportunity to be featured in our daily eNewsletter. 

To create inlays with lasers, users first engrave away the recessed area or “pocket” and then use the laser to cut the designated piece to inlay into the recessed area. After inlaying the laser cut piece, users typically sand and finish the project.

The image above is of a full-color printed photo on a ceramic tile inlayed into a cherry wood urn. Inlays are unusual in our business as they typically require custom wood working, or a rotary engraver or CNC. Lasering a shape into wood is time-consuming and is problematic as you get a lot of edge burning. Inlays can be more easily made by layering a cutout piece of material over a second material. I do a fair amount of appliqués that go on top of another material and are more practical to make. I believe you see more inlays with those making some type of jewelry or decorative products with stones, etc.

Additional information courtesy Bob Hagel, Eagle’s Mark