Introduction: How to Make a Custom Laser Etched Wine Bottle
This instructable describes how to make a laser etched wine bottle that can be used to bottle your own home made libation, as a flower vase or whatever application you find for wine bottles. I make my own wine at home and decided it would be nice to use a laser etching machine to create an artistic etched label to make the presentation more attractive than printed stick on labels. I dp not have a laser etcher at home therefor I made it at TechShop (www.techshop.ws.) The following items are needed for this instructable.
1) Laser engraver (all TechShop locations)
2) A rotary attachment for the laser engraver
3) Software for designing the bottle "label"
4) A non-scratch scrubber for cleaing the final product
5) Wine bottle opener
6) Measureing tape
Associated TechShop Classes:
1) LAS101: Laser Cutting and Etching SBU
2) LAS201: Laser Engraver Rotary Attachment SBU
1) Bottle of wine
Step 1: Empty a Bottle of Wine
You do not want to use a laser engraver on a full bottle of wine--the results could be disasterous. First empty a bottle of wine using your preferred method. I like to drink mine. Wait at least 24 until your hang over is gone (not necessary if you poured it down the drain--fool.) Once emptied be sure to rinse the bottle and remove the label so the laser only meets the surface of the glass and not paper or glue.
Step 2: Preparing Your Label
You will first need to measure the diameter of your wine bottle. Do this using any measuring tape wrapping it around the bottle until it overlaps itself. Take note of this measurement. You will also need to measure the total height of the bottle as well as the distance from the bottom of the bottle to where it begins to taper off into the neck of the bottle. This distance is necessary to know because the laser engraver requires a fixed distance to work properly. As the laser moves towards the neck it becomes out of focus and will not engrave the glass, distorting your design. Using these measurements open a drawing with the canvas size dimensions equal to the diameter of the bottle as the width and the total height of the bottle as the height. Mark off the top region of the drawing where the tapered neck begins as a "no-draw-zone" and keep it blank.
Step 3: Designing the Label
Once you have setup the proper dimensions of your drawing you will need to place a marker to bisect the canvas along the vertical axis. This marker will define the front and back regions of the bottle. Use the left side to disign the front label and the right side as the smaller secondary label if you want one. Remember that the edges of the canvas at the left and right sides will touch each other when etched onto the bottle. This allows you create a continuous design that will wrap around the entire bottle. I recommend placing a repeating patter about 1/2" from the bottom of the bottle as it adds a nice touch to the design.
When designing the front label keep the design centered with respect the left segmented region of the canvas. Follow the same practice with designing the back label. This will place the labels on the exact opposite side of the bottle. I also like to place the back label near the bottom of the bottle which give it a well designed appearance.
Once you have completed you label design you may send the file to the laser etcher to etch the bottle. Make sure that you setup the laser engraver properly with the rotary attachement and preform the alignment and calibration of the tool as needed. You will most likely need to place the neck of the bottle away from the large side of the laser engraver so that the riser mechanism can be raised to fit the tapered neck of the bottle. Once everything is lined up print the image to the bottle and watch the magic happen.
Step 5: Cleaning Up the Bottle
The laser etcher creates tiny fragments of glass that need to be removed before you are finished. Use a non-scratch scrubbing pad and while running water over the bottle lightly scrub to remove these particals washing them down the drain. Once you are satisfied with the state of the bottle you may refill with the beverage of your choice and either cork it up or enjoy it immediately. I found that dark glass creates more contrast and makes the label more visible, but clear glass with dark liquid will likely have the same effect.