Custom laser-engraved patent drawings on copper sheets

David and Hilary say, "Prior Art offers made-to-order engravings of patent illustrations in copper, aluminum, and brass. Thanks to the new Google Patents, the USPTO's database is now more accessible than ever. We're inviting customers to search that database for images that speak to them, then we take it from there. After considering a number of user-selected customizations, we engrave the image using our home-built CNC router into metal plate. Add a lovely frame and some matting, and you've got a top-notch conversation piece!"

Prior Art Engraving (Thanks, David and Hilary!)


  1. Ah! I’ve been looking for an image to complete one of the Christmas gifts I’m making this year, and I hadn’t even considered patents. This is brilliant; thanks for posting!

  2. The title says “laser-engraved” but the quote says “router” and the FAQ says they use diamonds (a diamond cutting head on their CNC router perhaps?). Curious internet monkeys want to know! Which is it?

  3. Nowhere does that site mention lasers. In fact, they state in at least two places that the engravings are done with some sort of diamond scribe.

  4. I find the USPTO site still does a better job finding patents. Clunky interface, but it works. Sometimes Google flat out refuses to find issued or published patents. However, Google lets you download as PDF’s. So I use both.

  5. How high resolution is the source material? Copper engraving, when done by hand, involves a certain economy and fluidity of line. When stray pixels and aliased artifacts guide the scribe, that aesthetic quality is compromised.

  6. I want a diagram of some absurd automatic page-turning device from the 1880s to use as the cover of my next ebook reader…

  7. From Prior Art:
    Thanks everybody for the great response! We’re really flattered by the interest this project is generating.

    To clear up a few questions:
    -Madsci is right, we don’t use lasers (though we think they’re pretty cool). We coat our plates with a protective lacquer, then engrave them using a diamond scribe, and finally treat the plates with a chemical oxidizer to blacken the engraved lines. It’s an involved process, but we think the final results are stunning.

    -And as for the resolution issue, Google’s patent database has incredibly high resolution scans, which we then convert to line-art. There’s no pixelation, only clean lines. Check out the gallery for some examples.

    Anyway, thanks again to all you Happy Mutants for the great response. Happy…… mutanting?

  8. I absolutely love this concept!! Outstanding!! I’m thinking a patent of the first washing machine would be so radical!! You all rock, now my gift list has gotten shorter!

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