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A year ago we noticed a new trend showing up in the UK marketplace, this trend had been around in the US for years, the trend was personalised gifts. Companies were starting to personalise everything, from wooden items to clothing. If you could engrave or embroider onto a product, then someone was probably doing it.
Personalising products and sending them as gifts was a great idea, it made the gift that little bit more special, in particular if the gift was for a newborn baby, christening gift or wedding present. Adding a baby or child’s name to a toy, a name and date to a wedding present was a fantastic idea and it started to become popular way of gift giving in the UK marketplace.
At the same time we noticed this new trend in gift shopping, we started selling on a new marketplace, Not On The High Street. The idea behind Not On The High Street was to sell gifts not found on your local high street, to sell bespoke and unique products from independent small sellers and a lot of these products were personalised in some way. When we noticed how popular these products were becoming we knew we needed to buy a laser engraving machine.
Why a laser engraving machine and not a embroidering machine? Well we didn’t want to source new products to personalise, we wanted to try and personalise some of our current product range. In our current product range we had wooden pull along toys, wooden music boxes and baby imprint frames, all these products had space on them to engrave onto, perfect for a baby’s name, date of birth and weight this would give our customers a choice if they wanted to personalise our products.
At this point we knew nothing about laser engraving, but like most things done at Snuggle Feet, we took to the internet to research and learn about these machines. Before long we had learnt a lot and had a plan, laser engraving machines start life at the cheaper end from machines mainly made in China and sold though eBay to the top end machines made by Trotec Laser.
We wanted to test this whole idea out first before investing in a premium laser machine, so this lead us down the eBay route and the cheaper end of the market, so a machine was purchased from eBay and we were up and running pretty quick. Our first laser machine (from eBay) served a purpose, but the quality of the engraving wasn’t great, instead of engraving into the paint on the product, it sort of slightly burnt the paint instead. Plus the software you used to do the artwork on and control the engraver wasn’t great.
Never the less, we had this eBay engraver for about 18 months while we tested ideas and how best to personalise our products, as well as learning about the whole world of laser engraving.
Personalising our wooden toy products became incredibly popular with our customers and we decided we wanted a better machine, we needed a better engraving quality and speed. So after doing more research we found the best machine on the market was made by Trotec Laser.
So before long we had booked a demo at the Trotec Guildford showroom, where Micaela and Andy really looked after us. We were so impressed from that first meeting that we agreed to purchase a Trotec Speedy 100. Trotec is the Rolls Royce of the laser engraving world, their machines aren’t cheap, but you pay for what you get. The build quality and reliability is outstanding.
I could go on and on here, but I think pictures say a 1000 words, so below are a few photos of engravings we have produced and sold, these photos show, firstly the cheaper eBay machine compared to the Trotec laser engraving machine below.
In fact, the laser engraving side of the business is going so well we decided to form a separate business focused on engraving chopping boards, glasses and other products, it's called The Laser Engraving Company.
Engraving produced using our first laser engraving machine purchased from eBay - Giraffe pull along toy
Engraving produced by our Trotec laser engraving machine (Speedy 100) - Giraffe pull along toy
Engraving produced on our first laser engraving machine purchased from eBay - Pirate music box
Engraving produced using our Trotec laser engraving machine (Speedy 100) - Pirate music box
Engraving produced on our first laser engraving machine purchased from eBay - Baby imprint kit
Engraving produced using our Trotec laser engraving machine (Speedy 100) - Baby imprint kit