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Thank you Angus Deveson, you rock !
Sub-Surface Laser Engraving (SSLE)
The basis for this technology is the same as for ordinary laser engraving on the surface of stones or glasses. Due to a very strong local temperature gradient, the material treated with the laser beam experiences thermal stress, resulting in small localized fractures.
The 3D Crystal process
A sub-surface laser engraving system is used to permanently etch designs and images inside clear optical crystal trophies, awards & gifts
"How do you get the image inside the crystal" is the question we hear more than any other.
While it may appear to be all smoke and mirrors, the concepts behind sub-surface engraving are not dissimilar to the common childhood game of burning holes in paper using a magnifying glass lens.
In the game, the lens is used to focus the light from the sun into a single spot. The concentrated energy at this "hot spot" is so high that the paper starts burning.
For sub-surface engraving a lens is used to focus a laser beam to a point below the crystal surface. At this focus point the energy is high enough to create a tiny fracture in the crystal. The energy of the out-of-focus light is not high enough to have an effect, so the surface of the crystal is not disturbed.
We use state-of-the-art German laser systems to ensure the highest quality engraving. The precision control of the laser system is carefully calibrated to ensure the fractures occur at exactly the correct location. The engraved image is formed by producing hundreds of thousands of fractures. The engraved points appear white in normal ambient lighting conditions.