With laser engraving gaining popularity among high-end shaving brush makers, we are sometimes asked how durable our imprinted logos really are. It's an excellent question especially given the cost of Morris & Forndran and our own BSSW shaving brushes.
The short answer is that the inks Morris & Forndran (and we) use are state of the art products designed explicitly to bond with difficult substrates like cast polyester resins, metals (like stainless steel and aluminum--thermal mugs, medical instruments, etc.) as well as glass (beer glasses, etc.), plastics (golf balls, pens, etc.), and other materials by what chemists call “chemical crosslinking.” What that means is that these inks bond with the underlying material--called the "substrate"--at the molecular level. These inks have properties similar to those used in “tagless” T-shirt printing. (For further information, please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-link et al.)
|These state of the art inks differ from inks used on the old vintage brushes made by Vulfix, Simpson, Rubberset, and others in that some of these older inks were actually intended to partially wear off with time. Lee Sabini of Morris & Forndran tells me that was done in some cases because retailers complained to the manufacturers that they needed a sure way to tell if a brush had been used. (Apparently, people had been returning used brushes for refunds claiming they were unused.) As a result, makers used inks that would partially wash off the first time a brush was wetted.|
But to return to the question: How long will imprinted logos last? Honestly, I don't know. I do know that Morris & Forndran and other brush makers have used them for years with no complaints. On our side, I've had long conversations with several industrial ink suppliers and sent sample brush handles to them for ink recommendations, recommended application processes, and sample imprints. We also spoke with technical experts at companies that specialize in these types of imprints. Sample imprints were subjected to rigorous testing to the point of running sample handles (NOT brushes!!!) through the dishwasher. (Please note: subjecting our shaving brushes to a dishwasher will ruin the bristles and void our warranties!)
We next purchased ink samples and followed the manufacturers' application instructions religiously--then repeated the same tests. It was only after our imprints passed these tests that we offered our imprinted brushes to the public.
So what about laser engraving? My honest--admittedly blunt--opinion is that it's largely about marketing. I look at it this way: Lasers are sexy. They do engrave an image into the substrate creating a more permanent impression, yet the inks used are the same.
We have looked into laser imprinting, but have held off for at least three reasons: (1) the up-front investment (on the order of $25-$35k+) is cost-prohibitive for our small-scale operations; (2) if laser engraving is done too deeply, soap scum can accumulate inside the etching that’s difficult to remove; and (3) we believe (combined with the proven durability of today’s inks) our current imprinting yields a more attractive result. Obviously, these are our opinions. Others may legitimately disagree--and we have no problems with that. We simply say that if our logos wear off during normal use, we will gladly re-apply them.
The bottom line is that a lot of very hard, careful work has gone into the creation of every shaving brush that leaves our workshops. And we believe that our imprinted logos add the finishing touch--the "icing on the cake," if you will--to that work. We hope you agree.