Laser engraving stone can sometimes be tricky if you are not well aware of different types of stones and different laser settings parameters.
More so, weathering, direct sunlight, and abrasion can affect the visibility and condition of the engraving over time.
In this article, we will focus on the crucial aspects to consider to ensure the end engraving meets your expectations.
Types of stone
The stone’s characteristics are pivotal in determining the success of the engraving.
Stones with a fine, even grain, such as marble or basalt, tend to visualize more detailed images due to their homogeneity.
In contrast, darker stones like granite are preferred for their ability to produce high-contrast engravings, which make the etched design stand out. However, it would require a well-optimized vector image.
Lighter-colored stones can also be engraved, but they may require additional treatments, like darkening the engraved areas with paint or ink, to enhance visibility.
For instance, when engraving on white marble, a popular choice for monuments, the etched design can appear almost invisible under bright sunlight.
To fix this, we often infill the grooves with black or dark gray paint, which is specifically designed for stone, to create a striking contrast.
It’s important to research the laser’s interaction with different stone types and colors to predict the outcome accurately.
Below table exhibits different types of stone and their respective laser engraving shallanges:
|Types of stone
|Laser Engraving Challanges
|Granite's hardness requires high laser power for engraving, which can sometimes lead to inconsistent results if the stone's composition varies.
|Being a softer and more inconsistent stone, marble can produce varying depths when engraved, which may affect the clarity of fine details.
|Due to its layered composition, slate can chip or flake during the engraving process, making it challenging to maintain a smooth finish.
|Basalt's darkness often means that engravings may not stand out clearly, necessitating additional processes like color filling.
|Its softer and more porous nature can lead to a grainy finish after engraving, sometimes resulting in a less crisp image or text.
|Similar to limestone, sandstone is soft and porous, making it prone to a rough texture post-engraving which might obscure fine details.
|Quartz contains various mineral inclusions that can disrupt the uniformity of the engraving, causing some parts to be less distinct than others.
|The natural pits and voids in travertine can complicate the laser engraving process and result in an uneven surface.
|The translucency of onyx can make laser engravings less visible unless the stone is backlit or the engraved areas are color-filled.
|Soft and easily workable, soapstone can suffer from overburn or excessive material removal if not engraved with careful control of the laser's power and speed.
Surface Treatment & Preperation
Prior to engraving, the stone’s surface must be carefully prepared. Any dirt, coatings, or irregularities can affect the quality of the engraving.
For some stones, applying a thin layer of lacquer or a specialized stone color fill product can improve the contrast and clarity of the engraving.
For example, when working with a piece of slate, its natural gray hue might make lighter engravings blend into the background.
We often apply a thin layer of clear lacquer to enhance the sheen of the engraved areas. It makes the design or text catch the light and appear more distinct against the stone’s matte finish.
In some cases, a preliminary treatment can also serve to protect the stone from the heat and impact of the laser, preserving the integrity of both the stone and the design.
When designing for laser engraving, you need to consider the complex interplay between the laser etching and the stone’s surface.
Fine details may not be as visible on stone as they are on paper or a digital screen.
Therefore, designs often benefit from simplification and bold, clean lines.
Additionally, the choice of font for any text is critical; sans-serif fonts with consistent stroke widths tend to be more legible when engraved.
Designs should account for the natural variations and color patterns in the stone, using them to enhance the overall aesthetic.
Here are some must-know design tips that makes an angraved slate amazing.
Laser engraving settings
The configuration of the laser engraver, including power, speed, frequency, and focus, must be meticulously calibrated for stone engraving.
The Lightburn settings will vary based on the stone’s properties and the desired depth of the engraving.
Test runs on a sample piece of the same stone can help fine-tune these parameters.
Additionally, techniques such as multiple passes may be necessary to achieve the desired effect without causing damage to the stone especially if you are enrgaving besalt stone.
It’s also crucial to consider the optimal resolution for the engraving, as a higher DPI (dots per inch) setting can capture more detail, but may increase the time required for the engraving process.
Below is a list of engraving settings varied by the stypes of the stones
Types of the laser machine
Undoubtedly, the CO2 laser engravers are the best option for enrgaving stones. Due to its power, precision and ability to handle rough materials laser experts always use the CO2 machine expecially when engraving granites, slate and other types of stone.
Here’s why the CO2 laser machine is often considered the best option for stone engraving:
The CO2 laser is highly adaptable and can be used on a wide array of stone materials, including granite, marble, slate, basalt, and more. Though the results may vary depending on the stone’s color and composition, the CO2 laser can be finely tuned to accommodate these differences.
For instance, a lower power setting may be used for softer stones like marble to prevent chipping or excessive material removal, while higher power settings can be employed for harder stones like granite to achieve clear, crisp engraving.
These are the top three CO2 stone enrgaver
We tested more than 15 different lasers and filteres the top 3 machine for you
CO2 lasers are also capable of producing highly detailed engravings with precision that is difficult to replicate with other methods. The laser beam can be focused down to a very small spot, allowing for fine detail work, including small text and complex imagery.
This level of precision ensures that even the most subtle artistic nuances are captured in the stone, making it ideal for both decorative art and readable text.
In short, CO2 lasers produce a laser power at an wavelength of 10,600 nm which is significantly pwoerful than the diode and other laser types. It helps engraving tough materials like stone.
Overall, stone engraving requires you to know the types of stone are you enrgaving and match a perfect comination of laser power, speed and resolution for the best result.
You may also appy a resin coat or machine oil on the enrgaved surface to bring high contrast visual appearance.