Awards & Engraving

2018 Laser Engraving Report

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26 n LER 2018 of material can only be achieved on a strong steel base with a smooth traveling engraving gantry that rides over the top of the stone. Another consideration for the large stones is how you load these pieces into the machine. One method of loading the heavy items is by carting the pieces to the laser machine then pushing or pulling the stones into position on an industrial roller table. The other method is to use an open bed laser system where you can drive a scissor lift stand to raise the workpiece to the proper focus position once parked in the laser machine. The stones are pulsed with a small amount of laser energy to create beautiful images on the surface of the stone using a CO 2 laser. The technology for CO 2 lasers has been around for over 50 years but the size for these powerful units keeps getting smaller and smaller. I have found that a minimum of 50 watts is ideal for stone engravings. You can easily adjust the power or wattage of the laser using the machine's control software. The laser is micro-fracturing the stone and if too high of a wattage is used, the images lose detail and look all white. FOUR: WHAT TYPE OF STONE TO USE Can I use any stone material with a laser? No. The best stone material for out- door use is black granite. The common igneous rock that many countertops and cemeteries use for headstones works well for laser etching murals too. If you are con- sidering inside use, use a large amount of black marble tiles, or even tempered glass works well. The finer the grains and the more solid black, the better. The color black works well with murals as it creates a beautiful black-and-white image. One of the most common reasons people want to behold art in black and white today is because it lends a certain timeless quality to the images. I sometimes wonder, "What would my grandparents think of invisible laser light making a picture right before their eyes?" This process of laser engraving is so amazing and rewarding as you see the life-like images come to life. Next time you behold a large stone mural, consider the time, process, and machinery involved in making this enormous piece of art. LER One difficult part of engraving large murals is locating a heavy-duty laser table capable of handling large pieces for the project.

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