View Full Version : Glass/Ceramic Tiles Engraving and Photo prep work - pricing help

Khalid Nazim
11-21-2011, 2:41 PM
I just met a customer who asked me to quote for engraving 50 ceramic tiles (6.5" x 7") and has provided a photo that has gone through the image processing step. He will be giving the tiles to engrave. I just need to quote for engraving.

He indicated that they don't want to do photo prep work in the future and asked to quote separately for that as well.

I have not done this kind of work before and need help in pricing. So my questions:

Can I directly engrave ceramic tiles or do I need put some coating on it?
How much should I charge to engrave 50 ceramic tiles (6.5" x 7")?
How much should I charge for photo prep work considering that I would need to buy Photoprav? Can I prepare my photo in Corel Photo paint?

I have attached the two photos here - the original and the processed one provided by the customer.


Dan Hintz
11-21-2011, 2:59 PM
Difficult to give you firm answers. We don't know how fast you are at using your image processing toolset... and customers won't pay $60/hr for someone who take 4 hours to fix an image when the guy down the street can do it in 1. How expensive is your local tile? Some tiles will give you a cream-colored engraving, so if you want black/white, you'll need to factor in time for painting, possibly time for sealing afterwards, too.

Joe Hillmann
11-21-2011, 3:03 PM
What type and color are the tiles? My suggestion is to get a few tiles from him and do a few samples. Ceramics can be problematic.

Khalid Nazim
11-21-2011, 3:13 PM
The tile is light blue in color (pic attached here). What are the process steps to engrave a ceramic tile? As for photo prep, I assumed that I can import an image in Photograv, select the material that I would need to engrave it on and the software gives me a usable file. Correct?


Dee Gallo
11-21-2011, 3:25 PM
Boy, I would go with Cermark for ceramic/glass to get a nice black mark with the least amount of trouble.

It looks like they just made the photo into a black and white image like a screenprint. I would take the original, put it into CorelDraw and see how long it takes you to do it.

Okay, I tried it for you and it will take 5 seconds ... but I seriously hope you get a better picture than the one posted, because that one is horribly small and pixilated. Anyway, do this: import the image, select Bitmap>Mode>Black & White>Line Art. Done. Probably should trace to make it cleaner... nope, tried it and it looks awful.

cheers, dee

Joe Hillmann
11-21-2011, 3:28 PM
I can't tell you much but I would think that the engraving would end up just a little bit lighter blue then what the tile is so you will have to color fill. I don't know what to suggest for the color fill, I never have much luck with that.

Khalid Nazim
11-21-2011, 3:41 PM
There is a twist in the story now :)

Just spoke with the customer and what he wants to do is to sandblast the image on the tile and he wants me to engrave the sandblasting mask! Is that even possible for a complex photo like that?

Joe Hillmann
11-21-2011, 3:48 PM
It's possible, but weeding it will take forever.

Khalid Nazim
11-21-2011, 4:12 PM
So if the customer wants me to create a mask for him to do sand blasting, why would I need to do weeding? If I raster the b/w image, wouldn't the black portion on the image be rastered away leaving just the white portion on the tile and then customer can sand blast through it. Right?

Joe Hillmann
11-21-2011, 4:17 PM
When I make masks for stenciling I always just vector cut it then weed it, I suppose you could raster it.

Khalid Nazim
11-21-2011, 4:26 PM

If you compare the first and the second b/w image you will notice that the first image has really smooth lines compared to the second image. I could duplicate the same results as you did following the steps you outlined and the resulting image was like the second b/w image and not the first one. Why would that be?

Gary Hair
11-21-2011, 4:27 PM
There is a twist in the story now :)

Just spoke with the customer and what he wants to do is to sandblast the image on the tile and he wants me to engrave the sandblasting mask! Is that even possible for a complex photo like that?

For that kind of an image I would use photo resist with the image converted to halftones. It will give you the resolution you need and there isn't any weeding. I'm not a big fan of sandblasted halftone photos, but it's the easiest/best way to do that type of image.


Dee Gallo
11-21-2011, 4:38 PM

I assume it is because of the bitmapped image being small, but if you blow up the two images they both have jagged edges and grey specks. But I don't really know.

If they are going to sandblast, which color should be masked? Sandblasting usually leaves a whitish mark, so you'd have to leave all the black parts. That would be ridiculous to hand weed. Gary is right, photo resist is the only way to go.

Martin Boekers
11-21-2011, 4:41 PM
I would stop right there and get an idea of what area he thinks this is worth.

Is he going to sand etch? Are you just applying the masking to the tile then
engraving and giving him back the tile. What happens if the mask doesn't work
for the etcher? Who is responsible. Is he providing the mask or are you.

This is the type of job I have seen all to often. I work at coming up with a quote
and time frame, only to have the perameters change, then I give them the price
and he's says WHOA......... I thought this was only going to be a couple dollars.
Much time wasted trying to make it happen.

Run a test on a basic tile this may take 10 min or more to etch. That will at least
give you an idea of time involved.

If you do get the job, run a tile test and see how the mask hold up to the sandblast.

Good Luck!

Dee Gallo
11-21-2011, 4:57 PM
Martin is so right - so many questions are unanswered.

Along the same vein, is there anyone out there using Ikonics photo resist mask? Is it worth the investment?