diamond carving

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Rich Smylie, GMN
By Richard Smylie | Aug 30, 2018
Diamond-carved nameplate manufactured at GMN

Diamond carving, also known as diamond drag engraving, is a common metal decoration technique that enhances metal components by adding a unique texture. Performed at the back-end of the manufacturing process, this technique creates extremely fine, sharp, and crisp lines on an embossed aluminum surface, which cannot be achieved through any other decoration process. These deeply carved lines on the metal surface also provide a tactile feel, further augmenting the appearance of the component.

Our latest video features the diamond carving operation from our Monroe, NC Division. Illustrating the process of diamond drag engraving in detail, the video also dives deeper into the various textures, patterns, and looks that you can achieve with this technique.

Decorative enhancements if any, such as screen printing or brush finishing, are always applied on the metal before the carving process. Once the aluminum sheet is decorated, the area to be diamond carved is embossed or raised to a height ranging between 0.015” to 0.018”. The embossed sheet is then cut into strips and held in-position on a flatbed table by vacuum. The strips are lubricated with oil to enable smooth and uniform engraving of the metal without galling. The strips are fed into a machine that consists of a large 12” rotating wheel, also referred to as the platinum. A small industrial-grade diamond chip, approximately 0.125” in diameter, is mounted to the platinum. As the wheel spins, the diamond chip abrades the aluminum surface with every rotation, thereby creating parallel lines at a depth of 0.003”. Diamond, being the hardest mineral, works flawlessly to create the desired pattern. In addition, the height of the wheel from the flatbed table can be adjusted vertically to compensate for metals with varying thicknesses and/or embossing heights.    

The spacing between the lines is determined by the speed of the wheel. The slower the speed, the broader the gap between each line, and the faster the speed, the lesser the gap. The number of lines per inch and the angularity of the lines is often customized according to the design intent. The texture or pattern can vary from extremely fine textures that create a subtle shimmer to coarse lines that add a more jagged look.

While diamond carving has been a popular technique for several decades, GM Nameplate (GMN) brings a creative twist to the process. GMN’s expertise and capabilities allow you to apply a layer of transparent ink of any color to the diamond-carved surface. It not only adds a unique look, but also retains the beauty and texture of diamond carving. The ink is always transparent to enable one to see the scribed lines below. Once the ink is screen printed, the ink is cured by baking the component in strip form.

Seen largely on electronics and handheld appliances, GMN has developed diamond-carved nameplates for numerous companies including Mitsubishi, Philips, Bose, and Lincoln. To see the process of diamond carving, watch our video below.  

Dean Karousos, GMN
By Dean Karousos | Oct 24, 2017
GMN created a metal nameplate for WFLIII Drums using diamond carving and embossing.

WFLIII Drums came to GM Nameplate (GMN) to develop an original nameplate intended to be the company keystone for their high-quality signature snare drum. Recently, WFLIII asked GMN to provide design modification considerations to help them redesign this nameplate.

The original design of the WFLIII nameplate utilized an ElectraGraphic process on stainless steel. With ElectraGraphic nameplates, even though the nameplate is flat, the letters and designs appear to be raised. But this time around, WFLIII wanted to create a truly embossed (raised) badge with a diamond carved finish.

WFLIII Drums decided to go with a black aluminum nameplate that would be embossed and diamond carved on the upper half of the badge. Diamond carving is when lines are brushed deeply into embossed metal to give it a textured look. The diamond carving for this nameplate was applied diagonally and had more than the typical spread in between each engraving.

The nameplate had a lot of detail on its lower half, which presented a challenge because fine details are hard to achieve through embossing and diamond carving. So GMN had to find a solution to make sure the fine details of the badge would stand out as well.

Therefore, GMN decided to “reverse out” the details on the lower half of the badge. This meant that the designs would be made by printing the black ink around the letters and drum image, making the details stand out with a metallic shine against the dark background.

WFLIII Drums worked closely with GMN’s sales representatives and the Monroe, NC Division to create this new and improved badge. GMN was able to provide a solution for WFLIII Drums to create a nameplate that met their specific needs.