​Important Tips for 3D Sub-Surface Engraving

​Important Tips for 3D Sub-Surface Engraving

Posted by Stephanie Hastings on Jul 23rd 2018

3D engraved awards are very popular right now. You may have heard of them or seen them at a recent awards event. These awards are typically made with clear glass or optic crystal blocks or thick slices of the same materials. A two-dimensional or three-dimensional image is then engraved on the inside of the award leaving all the external edges and sides untouched and unblemished. These images appear to float inside the award. The three-dimensional images contain the full form of an object which is visible from all sides of the award. The two-dimensional images, such as text, has a very slight relief but is mostly flat and if you can imagine just looks like a vertical line from the side.  

If you are intrigued and are wondering if this type of award would be a good fit for your next recognition program, here are the most important tips we can offer:


Think about what image you would want engraved:

  • Can any aspect of your logo be changed to be a three-dimensional object? For example, if your logo contains an image of a globe, a globe is a three-dimensional object.
  • If you have a three-dimensional object in mind, how complex is the object? Is it easy to identify? Simple three-dimensional images work best.

Think about what text you need on the finished product:

  • Does each recipient’s name need to be engraved on the award? This will most likely be engraved on the outside of the award after the 2D or 3D laser process is complete.
  • Does the award size selected allow for enough engraving space in addition to the 2D or 3D image contained inside of the award? It may make sense to add a base to the award to increase your engraving space.

Think about the importance of color use on the award:

  • Does your logo need to be in color? This may only be possible on thick awards if the logo is not too dense in spots.
  • Are there any secondary full-color images you would like to incorporate into the award which are important to your branding or the award program theme? These could be printed on various sides of the award.


Plan ahead by obtaining the image files you will need for your project. Here are the files you will need for a two-dimensional or three-dimensional engraving.

Two-Dimensional Sub-Surface Engraving and Surface Engraving

  • Preferred file formats are .AI or .EPS (some .PDF files may be acceptable)
  • Art must be saved in black and white vector line art mode
  • Know what font is used in any of your artwork
  • Minimum resolution of the file is 300 DPI

Three-Dimensional Sub-Surface Engraving

  • Best file format is .MAX
  • Preferred file formats are .OBJ, .IGS, .STL, .DAE, .FBX, .SKP, .DWG, .STP

If you do not have the capability to provide these file types, don’t worry! We can help you create these file types, but this service will incur hourly art charges.

To view some examples of 2D and 3D sub-surface awards we have created for our clients,  visit this page.

If you have any questions or would like help brainstorming your idea, please  contact our sales team at

2D and 3D Sub-Surface Engraving Examples