Simon from Simba Rods hand builds bespoke fly fishing rods in Crieff. He decided to expand his range to include reels, and wanted to have his logo and item numbers laser engraved onto them.
Simon said that most of the reels were made of anodised aluminium in silver, black and red. All engravings on anodised aluminium are silvery white, so I told Simon that there may be less contrast for engravings on them.
As the engravings would small and the logo is fine, I wasn’t sure how the logos might come out. To make things more complex, Simon told me that some of the areas he wanted engraved were concave, some were convex and others flat. I was concerned that depending on the heights and depths of the concave and convex areas, the laser might lose focus and the engraving quality might suffer. And metal is not forgiving to engrave at the best of times!
l talked Simon through all my production issues so he could understand the challenges I faced. I suggested that performing test engraves would give us a clear idea of what results we could expect, and he gamely agreed.
Engraving the samples
Before Simon came, I traced his jpg logo to create a vector version. I could rescaled it without loss of quality to increase our chances of high quality results. This is particularly important for small engravings on metal.
Simon brought his sample reels to the workshop. He had a range of sizes- larger salmon reels and smaller trout reels, with black, silver and red parts to engrave. First, we measured the areas on the reels where he wanted the engravings to be and scaled his logo to three sizes, 15, 19 and 24mm wide.
The biggest challenge was setting up the reels in the laser. I created a stack of slates that the reels could sit on so the engraved surfaces were uppermost and the handles could face down beside the slates. Then I had to keep the reels stable by pushing small stacks of ply business cards under the reel rims. It was a bit of a faff, but it worked!
We decided to start with the easiest scenario first. I set up a reel with a black flat area. The results were of excellent quality with crisp finish and great contrast. Encouraged, I tried a convex red area next. Again, the results were fantastic. Finally, we tried a silver concave area that needed the smallest engraving size. this too engraved beautifully with better contrast than I’d expected. Simon was delighted with the engravings.
First production runs
Simon had ordered 48 reels of different sizes and colours. When they had arrived, he brought them to the workshop for engraving. He unpacked them all and checked with me what should be engraved where on each reel to save time. And he’s brought me a red bean bag that he hoped would help with setting the reels up in the machine. It was perfect. You can see it in use in the top picture.
Then he brought a second delivery. While he was here, he had another idea, but I’ll save that for another blog!