Though both methods, engraving and etching, can be used for cutting hard surface like metal precisely still they have a few primary differences. One of the main primary differences between engraving and etching is that etching is a chemical process whereas engraving is a physical process. Sharp tools are used while engraving lines into a hard surface whereas the lines are burnt by using a kind of acid while etching the surface. The information provided here under can help you in understanding etching engraving difference more precisely.
Engraving is a method to decorate a metal sheet with images and text by hand with the help of certain sharp tools. Most of the ancient art pieces like guns, silverware, jewelry, and other items have been engraved by the engravers to make them look more attractive and beautiful. Until early 17th century engraving was the dominating method of printing artistic thing but after that etching surpassed it due to its low cost and less effort required for it as a lot of skills and efforts were required to cut a metal by physically. With the increasing popularity of etching many artisans switched from engraving to it. But engraved prints remained popular as a commercial method of reproducing images until the introduction of photography.
Etching is the simplest process to create some design on metal sheets as the artist has to cover the sheet with a layer of wax or some other mask material and scratch the desired design with an etching tool on the mask. After finishing the design he has to dip the metal sheet into a container containing acid to dissolve the exposed part of the sheet. The basic principle of the process of etching different type of materials can be the same though the mask materials can be different. For instance if you have to etch glass sheet then you will have to use a hydrofluoric acid solution to reveal the design created by using a acid-resistant material on the glass.
Both, engraving and etching, are the types of intaglio printing in which lines are cut into a flat facet. Though they produce lines by using different methods but the process of printing them is similar. When an etched or engraved plate is inked and wiped then ink will remain only in the engraved or etched lines which can help in transferring the inked image to a sheet of paper. This print can be darker if the lines are deeper. But these images will be drawn in reverse as the print will be in reverse in both cases.
In quality of lines
The quality of lines created by engraving a design will be much better than any other printing method as the lines created by the engraver are very sharp and crisp. This feature makes engraving an ideal method for printing fine items like currency. The lines created by etching are a bit fuzzy as acid can create rougher and wider lines than created by the etching artist by burning the metal under the wax.
Thus, you can easily understand etching engraving difference with the help of the facts discussed in this write-up.