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Benjamin Maine
05-25-2009, 11:09 PM
I am interested in engraving large quantities of text (five pages worth) into ceramic and granite tile on a regular basis. What would be the best way to do this? I have been investigating the various options but still do not feel very educated after researching for months.

Sandblasting - The major flaw with sandblasting seems to be creating the stencils. Photo image film is quite expensive, but it does not seem to require weeding. I could laser cut a stencil, but this seems to require weeding and that would take too long for hundreds of words. Could it be possible to attach a mask directly to the tile and completely burn out the letters with a laser so that no weeding would be needed? I am also concerned about dust. Ceramic and granite would both contain some silica, which could be a real health issue.

Lasers - If I were to cut letters with a laser, I would want the material to vitrify. It seems that this would require very powerful lasers or vast quantities of time and I need this work to be completed reasonably quickly.

Routers - I know nothing about routers that can cut into ceramic or granite. I would imagine that they would be expensive to purchase and maintain. I also imagine that they would be slow.

Wet Clay - Is it possible to imprint text and simple graphics into wet clay using some sort of printer and then fire it in a kiln? Is anyone familiar with such a printer? I have searched the internet for months, but found nothing like that. I have found printers that use glaze instead of ink to make graphics that can be fired onto ceramic, but nothing that makes a 3-d impression.

Are there any methods that I missed? My goal is to engrave text into ceramic or stone at low cost, but I am beginning to think that this is impossible. Does anyone have any thoughts?

Benjamin Maine

Martin Boekers
05-25-2009, 11:50 PM
What do you mean by 3D?

Raised lettering or recessed?

Is this for outdoor or indoor use?

What size?

There are many ways to put 2 dimensional type on those surfaces.
What is your final use.

I not sure if Corian may fit your needs, but there are experts in this forum that may help on that end.


There is a company in Colorado that has a process where they converted a laser printer to use a special composite toner made up from minerals.
It is fired in a kiln after applying to the substrate. Very resitantant to UV over 100 yrs. Not a cheap process now but maybe sometime in the future.

I'm at home so I don't have the company name in front of me, I'll email it from work tomorrow if you are interested.

James Jaragosky
05-26-2009, 12:06 AM
I am interested in engraving large quantities of text (five pages worth) into ceramic and granite tile on a regular basis. What would be the best way to do this? I have been investigating the various options but still do not feel very educated after researching for months.

Sandblasting - The major flaw with sandblasting seems to be creating the stencils. Photo image film is quite expensive, but it does not seem to require weeding. I could laser cut a stencil, but this seems to require weeding and that would take too long for hundreds of words. Could it be possible to attach a mask directly to the tile and completely burn out the letters with a laser so that no weeding would be needed? I am also concerned about dust. Ceramic and granite would both contain some silica, which could be a real health issue.

Lasers - If I were to cut letters with a laser, I would want the material to vitrify. It seems that this would require very powerful lasers or vast quantities of time and I need this work to be completed reasonably quickly.

Routers - I know nothing about routers that can cut into ceramic or granite. I would imagine that they would be expensive to purchase and maintain. I also imagine that they would be slow.

Wet Clay - Is it possible to imprint text and simple graphics into wet clay using some sort of printer and then fire it in a kiln? Is anyone familiar with such a printer? I have searched the internet for months, but found nothing like that. I have found printers that use glaze instead of ink to make graphics that can be fired onto ceramic, but nothing that makes a 3-d impression.

Are there any methods that I missed? My goal is to engrave text into ceramic or stone at low cost, but I am beginning to think that this is impossible. Does anyone have any thoughts?

Benjamin Maine

Here Is What I know, and think.
I have used my laser to vector cut ceramic tile for a local artist, after the first firing and before the second firing worked well for us. the tile is too hard after glazing to get deep detailed engravings.

After the tile is glazed you can crank up the power and re-melt the glaze, although you will not get great detail by doing this; it may be adequate for text.
Is the text always the same? If so why not make a stamp and do impressions in the wet clay?

CNC routers are used for this type of work, and I recently saw a used one go at auction for $35k.
you could probably set up a cheaper CNC router to do the work, and yes it will be slow; but cutting ceramic or granite will be slow with anything less than 100k. Other than my next suggestion.
I would think that the best tool to do this type of work would be a CNC water cutter; but this is still several 10's of thousands of dollars. my guess is around 35k for a entry level water jet cutter.
The water jet has a advantage of keeping the dust down.
Which brings me to the last and most important point.
Yes the dust from doing this will cripple or kill you if it is not handled properly. Even if you use water to keep the dust in check; if you let the wet dust dry out it will be dust again.

There are a lot of EPA regulations concerning cutting stone and stone like products.
And if the EPA is not enough of a concern, the liquid dust will turn to concrete in your pipes, and the city's Sewer system; and that can get expensive.
I hope it all works out for you, and the best way for that to happen is to be well informed.
I believe that one of the posters here at SMC is in the Granite engraving business. maybe She will chime in here.
Regards
Jim J.

James Stokes
05-26-2009, 9:53 AM
You can not even touch a waterjet for less than a $100000

Scott Shepherd
05-26-2009, 10:00 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've never seen a waterjet that would cut text into a surface. Everyone I have ever seen does nothing but cut through material (the abrasive in the high pressure water).

What resists have you looked at for sandblasting?

Gary Hair
05-26-2009, 11:14 AM
Photo image film is quite expensive, but it does not seem to require weeding.

Photo resist isn't very expensive, especially when you consider the detail you get and the lack of weeding. The equipment needed to do photo resist can be expensive, but you can build your own exposure unit and save yourself a few hundred dollars, mine cost me about $40 to build.

For your project needs, I would recommend photo resist with sandblasting. It will be the quickest, easiest, and most consistent result you will find, especially for the money.

Gary

Belinda Williamson
05-26-2009, 11:19 AM
The water jet has a advantage of keeping the dust down.
Which brings me to the last and most important point.
Yes the dust from doing this will cripple or kill you if it is not handled properly. Even if you use water to keep the dust in check; if you let the wet dust dry out it will be dust again.

There are a lot of EPA regulations concerning cutting stone and stone like products.
And if the EPA is not enough of a concern, the liquid dust will turn to concrete in your pipes, and the city's Sewer system; and that can get expensive.
Jim J.

Jim has pretty much covered the bases here. Do not enter into cutting and/or polishing stone lightly. A CNC router for stone is very expensive. EPA, OSHA, city and county governments - lots of folks looking over your shoulder.

Having said that, here are two very simple projects engrave with a laser. It doesn't get much easier than this. The Ranger Creed is a little difficult to read in the photo but you can tell that there is a definite contrast with the stone.

119240 119241

Tim Bateson
05-26-2009, 6:33 PM
Very impressive Belinda. The one on the right must have been heavy and $$$$$

Belinda Williamson
05-26-2009, 6:52 PM
Very impressive Belinda. The one on the right must have been heavy and $$$$$

Thanks Tim. I wish the one on the right had made me a single penny. It's still sitting in my showroom. That piece was a mock up done for a presentation. The Fallen Ranger Memorial was in the planning phase several years ago and I was contacted about doing some work (work that would have amounted to some good money). We actually bought the laser specifically for this job. The original plan speced - I think - six 72" x 36" x 5" black granite panels with a chiseled edge. Those would have been sandblasted, of course. The piece in the photo was a scale model we used during planning meetings, etc. The Ranger badge was supposed to be engraved and colored in the top blank area, but they never got the artwork to me. Midway through the project the base changed command and the new commander value engineered out the 1000 or so black granite pavers (now brick) and I can't remember what they used in place of the black granite uprights. So, long story short, no money made.

Jack Harper
05-26-2009, 11:00 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've never seen a waterjet that would cut text into a surface. Everyone I have ever seen does nothing but cut through material (the abrasive in the high pressure water).

What resists have you looked at for sandblasting?

OK, I will correct you. Yes, a waterjet can both etch and scribe text or anything else you want. I do it in metal all the time for part marking. When you etch, garnet is used in the water stream. When you scribe, it is just water. The principle is very simple actually. You can very accurately control speed and pressure with a modern day machine. Just lower the pressure and run up the speed and you can write anything. The process is actually all automated in the software, so no guesswork. Now with all that said, cutting text into stone does create some challenges as the stones mineral composite changes from inch to inch. This can cause some unevenness in the bottom of the letters. To correct this, you just etch a little deeper and then fill in the bottom of the letters with any number of fillers, creating a smooth bottom and crisp clean text. With a tilting head you can even create text with a V notch like a router.

Benjamin Maine
05-26-2009, 11:18 PM
What do you mean by 3D?

Raised lettering or recessed?

Is this for outdoor or indoor use?

What size?

There are many ways to put 2 dimensional type on those surfaces.
What is your final use.

I not sure if Corian may fit your needs, but there are experts in this forum that may help on that end.


There is a company in Colorado that has a process where they converted a laser printer to use a special composite toner made up from minerals.
It is fired in a kiln after applying to the substrate. Very resitantant to UV over 100 yrs. Not a cheap process now but maybe sometime in the future.

I'm at home so I don't have the company name in front of me, I'll email it from work tomorrow if you are interested.
Martin,

When I say 3-d letters, I mean deeply recessed as opposed to very slightly recessed. It seems that a router would make letters closest to what I want, but the cost is out of the question. The only exception to this might be vitrified laser engraved letters. This text is for outdoor use.

Benjamin

Benjamin Maine
05-26-2009, 11:29 PM
Having said that, here are two very simple projects engrave with a laser. It doesn't get much easier than this. The Ranger Creed is a little difficult to read in the photo but you can tell that there is a definite contrast with the stone.


Belinda,

Those laser texts are indeed impressive. How long did they take? How deep is the text?

You said that sand blasting stone is dangerous and requires a respirator, what about laser engraving granite? It looks like you have also removed some stone, which I assume would go into the air. It seems to be less stone but still some would get into the air.

Benjamin Maine
05-26-2009, 11:35 PM
Photo resist isn't very expensive, especially when you consider the detail you get and the lack of weeding. The equipment needed to do photo resist can be expensive, but you can build your own exposure unit and save yourself a few hundred dollars, mine cost me about $40 to build.

For your project needs, I would recommend photo resist with sandblasting. It will be the quickest, easiest, and most consistent result you will find, especially for the money.

Gary

I guess expensive is relative. If memory serves me, 10 sheets are about $70. That could add up very quickly. Since I would be working with 12x12 tile, the film would cost a minimum of $7 for each tile.

From what I have heard, sand blasting does seem best to start with, but the whole air quality issue has me worried. I am also worried about how loud this will be. I want to start in my garage and I am afraid that my neighbors will hate me.

Benjamin Maine
05-26-2009, 11:52 PM
Photo resist isn't very expensive, especially when you consider the detail you get and the lack of weeding.

Gary

Gary, there is something else I do not understand: why is weeding needed when cutting a mask with a laser? I would think that a laser could vaporize the entire letter for each letter in text. I am guessing that when people talking about cutting a mask, they are talking about cutting the outline of each letter, why not just burn out the whole thing? Is speed the issue here?

Benjamin Maine
05-27-2009, 12:03 AM
Is the text always the same? If so why not make a stamp and do impressions in the wet clay?

Regards
Jim J.

Jim,

The text would be different each time with different fonts and font sizes. I originally wanted to make impressions into wet clay and fire it, but I cannot find any tool that acts as a printer into wet clay.

I had also considered making an impression with a laser in a rubber-like material and then slip casting to transfer the image to clay, but I believe that that method would be expensive and wasteful.

Belinda Williamson
05-27-2009, 9:17 AM
Belinda,

Those laser texts are indeed impressive. How long did they take? How deep is the text?

You said that sand blasting stone is dangerous and requires a respirator, what about laser engraving granite? It looks like you have also removed some stone, which I assume would go into the air. It seems to be less stone but still some would get into the air.

The Marshes sign, as best I recall, took around 45 minutes to an hour, but the charge for the sign was $1400.00, so I came out okay. I can't recall how long it took to engrave the Ranger Creed, and I didn't make a notation since I was basically donating my time for that one.

The depth of the letters is less than 1/100th of an inch. With black granite you really only have to break the glossy surface. The laser vaporizes the miniscule amount of stone removed, so contamination has not been an issue.

Unless color filled, the engraving on black granite becomes essentially invisible when wet. The Marshes sign was for an exterior application and I was up front with the customer about that.

nancy barry
05-27-2009, 9:38 AM
Rayzist and others make laser mask specifically designed for sandblasting what has been lasered. I etch glass.. I use the laser mask to make the stencil which I then take to the sandblaster. I see no reason why the mask could not be applied to tiles of other materials. Heating the substrate with a heat gun would make it "easy" to apply the maks to a rougher surface than flat glass. Finger burnishing would work well.

I hope I have attached the file for a tile I displayed at the meet we had recently in Newport News. The text is 36 pts. I have no trouble making a laser mask that includes text as small as 4 pts. It is TINY but readable by those with "good eyes".. I blast at ~ 20-25# pressure and get a depth that I can color fill .

hope this helps,
nancyB

Dan Hintz
05-27-2009, 3:58 PM
Jack,

I believed the same as Steve... didn't realize you could etch with a waterjet (you use the term "scribe" for this), just cut. Good to know.

Jack Harper
05-27-2009, 8:47 PM
Jack,

I believed the same as Steve... didn't realize you could etch with a waterjet (you use the term "scribe" for this), just cut. Good to know.

To be clear, when we scribe, it is with water only. However, when we etch, we do use an abrasive as well. It really all depends on the material and how much of a mark you want.

Scott Shepherd
05-27-2009, 9:08 PM
Thanks for correcting me Jack, I had missed your post and several others on the first page!

That's good to know. Last time I saw a waterjet in action was about 10 years ago and I never recall anyone trying to sell us on those abilities. Sounds like it's out there and being used every day.

Thanks for educating us on that! I appreciate it.

Roy Nicholson
05-28-2009, 8:27 AM
The main noise is the compressor for the compressed air.

The sandblaster toself makes virtually no noise and you'd be workign porbably in a cabinet which would reduce virtually all the stone and dust contamination.

Drop in at Cutting Edge Forum and have a chat with them over there. They are very helpful. http://cuttingedgesandcarving.com/forums/

Soem of us are mnembers at both forums.

Regards


Roy N.