When considering placing and image or photo on a granite headstone, there are many considerations to look at. Each process is different and will impact the final cost of the marker. The industry is moving quickly and very creative when it comes to images. Today’s Photoshop software allows us to create many effects, shading and color to almost any image. The problem is trying to implement these creations on stone.
The simplest and most cost effective method is the standard sandblast image. This is made from simple line drawings cut from a rubber template that is glued on the granite, once the image is peeled away exposing the granite it is then sandblasted. The sand blast image is later filled in with litho chrome inks and provides many years of service before the image needs to be reconditioned due to the harsh environmental attack on the inks. This method insures a pretty good line drawing.
The other option for a sharper image with closer details is done using laser carving or engraving techniques. Here we have the ability to create smaller print sizes along with a higher quality image. This is very similar to standard engraving and does cost more to do. The engraving is not as deep as standard engraving but will be a better choice for better detail and allows us to add more text to a small stone.
Thirdly; we have the option to use laser etching. Here we create a high detailed picture in black and white contrast. This can only be done successfully on gloss black granite and is a very shallow cut on the stone. Our experience in the field is that this can be rubbed or scratched off when cleaning with abrasive cleaners or compounds. Laser etched designs are beautiful when new but beware of the limitations in the field. The internet is filled with laser markers for low prices.
The last option that we use is the porcelain cameo. Here we can generate a photographic quality image on special toners in color or Black and white. It is then fired at 1500F in our kiln. The image is glass like in structure when completed. It is impervious to UV fading, it will not peel, scratch or rust. The porcelain blanks have no metallic steel in the structure therefore they will withstand corrosion from salt air or water. We use the finest porcelain blanks and set our porcelain cameos in stone using state of the art engineered setting compounds that resist heavy equipment from cracking them when they are run over. Porcelain images will allow the families to have their loved memories kept alive for many generations.
When choosing which process to use you will need to understand each before making your selection. Each process has a direct cost impact and if traditional sand blasting can work for you then this will be the least expensive to do and most engravers will allow you one image with the basic stone, the complete name, dates and some words of endearment.