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Two-Tone Plastic Engraving Material

Two-tone plastic engraving material consists of a thick layer of plastic that is coated with a thin layer of plastic. Each layer has a distinct color, producing a two-tone effect when the thin layer is removed. This feature solves the contrast issue associated with monochromatic material. The total thickness is typically one-sixteenth of an inch. The thin layer is typically only three thousandths of an inch deep. With such a small amount of material to remove, two-tone plastic can be engraved quickly and easily.

Since the thin layer is the one that is engraved, its color is usually specified first in the description of the material, followed by the color of the thick layer.

Front-Surface (Obverse) Engraving
In front-surface engraving, the thin layer is on the front of the material, but is considered the background color. Engraving this layer reveals the thick layer underneath, which is considered the foreground color. This difference in nomenclature can be confusing. Black/White engraving material produces white characters on a black background.

Back-Surface (Reverse) Engraving
In back-surface or reverse engraving, the thin layer is on the back of the material, and is considered the background color. Engraving this layer reveals the thick layer, which is clear. When viewed from the front, one sees through the clear layer and the engraved area. Once again the nomenclature can be confusing. Black/Clear engraving material produces clear characters on a black background. The engraved area may be filled with paint to produce different color characters. Otherwise, the clear characters will take on the color behind the engraving material.

Normal versus Mirrored Text
In front-surface engraving, text is engraved in the same manner is it would be written. In reverse engraving, the text needs to be mirrored so that it is readable when the text is viewed from the front. Fortunately, most engraving software can mirror text when needed. There are other uses for mirrored text. At a loading dock, a truck driver would be able to read a sign reflected in the rear-view mirror.

Indoor and Outdoor Use
There are many industrial, commercial, and office uses for engraved signs. A wide variety of styles are now available, including basic colors, pastels, stone faces, wood grains, and metallics. The market for indoor material is greater, so some styles are rated for indoor use only. Engraving material rated for outdoor use has protection against ultra-violet light, which can degrade the plastic and fade the colors.

There may be slight color variations between different suppliers, based on their recipe for producing the colors. Therefore, BFS uses plastic engraving material from only one manufacturer, Innovative Plastics Inc.