Red Bolt Laser engrave liquor bottles of all sorts provided by our customers either single bottles or by the hundreds. With the right tools and know how, engraving a liquor bottle is relatively easy in many respects for the seasoned engraver. The glass etching or engraving of bottles gets complicated if the bottle or bottles to be engraved are oddly shaped instead of uniform in shape. Shapes of bottles vary wildly, and for this reason, you should take care in selecting the shape of the bottle to achieve the best results.
(Fig. 1 - Example of a uniformly shaped 1835 Bourbon Whisky liquor bottle mounted flat and squared in a laser.)
(Fig. 2 Example of uniformly shaped round Uno Por Favor Tequila Blanco bottles. Even though the bottles are narrow at the bottom and wide at the top, they are still considered uniform in shape and will roll easily for the laser etching process.)
(Fig. 3 Example of uniformly shaped round Tequila Ocho bottles etched and ready for the "Fiesta".)
Let's start by defining the uniform shape of bottles versus oddly or non-uniform shaped bottles.
A bottle that is uniform in its shape is either round and cylindrical or square and boxed shaped. Cylindrical or round bottles are uniform in their shape and form a perfect cylinder to roll in a laser rotary for engraving. A square or boxed shape bottle is not compatible and cannot be placed on a rotary to roll like a round bottle. But instead, a square bottle would lay flat and be engraved on the flat surface.
(Fig. 4 Example of uniformly shaped round Tequila Ocho bottle mounted in a laser rotary for turning after engraving.)
Liquor bottles that are styled oddly or non-uniform in their shape are laser compatible, but there are limitations. In short, bottles non-uniform in shape are bottles that combine the characteristics of both round and square bottles. The combinations are endless, but here are a few examples;
Round/Square - Bottle bottom is square the turns cylindrical towards the top. This bottle will not roll on a rotary but may lay flat for engraving.
Square/Round - The bottle is square, for the most part, but side surfaces are slightly rounded or raised or conversely concave. This type of bottle will neither mount in a rotary for turning nor will it lay perfectly flat.
The above examples do not mean that the oddly shaped designs cannot be laser engraved. It means that there may be additional time to set up the bottle for engraving or limited area to engrave.
Once you've determined the best shape, now comes the issue of surface area to engrave on. Not to get technical, but it bears to note that lasers engrave based on optimum focus. I'll give examples of what I mean by using round and square-shaped bottles.
Once a cylindrical bottle is mounted in a rotary for laser etching, as the bottle rolls, it never changes the distance from the laser and remains in focus with the laser and receives consistent power to engrave. Similarly, a square bottle that lays flat never changes its distance; thus, the engraving or etching is uniform.
(Fig. 5 Example of oddly shaped Appleton Estates Jamaica Rum bottles. Bottles were laser engrave flat because of their irregular shape. In addition bottles had significant surface curvature which limited extent of etching.)
But what happens if a bottle is non-uniform and is square for the most part, but its sides are slightly rounded or concave? This surface anomaly means that since lasers etch based on focus, let's say at the top, and the glass bottle gets the power it needs there, while other areas that may be lower or further away will not. Can it still be etched? Yes, but the area of strongest power only and surface areas too low or farther away will not be marked.
Bottom line, select a bottle that is either round or relatively square, and the sides are flat with only a minor variation in surface curvature if any.
Once you narrow down the size and shape of the bottle, make sure the area to engrave is large and flat enough to offer the surface area required for your wording or logo design.
(Fig. 6 Example of an ideal boxed or square shaped bottle to laser etch. These Jack Daniels Gentleman Jack Whiskey bottles lay flat in the laser and offer a large area to engrave.)
To assist in your process, we have many images in our custom liquor bottle page featuring various shaped glass liquor bottle designs that will hopefully give some insight into the various engraving possibilities.
Please feel free to contact us with your bottle engraving project.