Laser Imaging & Design, Inc.
The largest laser etching company for customized monuments in the country is pushing the design boundaries of their stone projects with a MAXIEM Waterjet. Previously only specializing in laser etching services, Laser Imaging & Design Inc. in Lebanon, Ohio now expands their creativity with mix-medium projects, multi-colored stone inlays, and more ambitious stonework. Company CEO Jim Smith said their MAXIEM 1530 JetCutting Center allowed his team to incorporate more innovative designs than ever before to appeal to an untapped market of clients.
"We're highly specialized in the stone industry and there are a lot of people in the stone industry who know about us," Mr. Smith said. "We've only had the MAXIEM for over a year, but the word is definitely spreading about us and the machine is definitely staying busy."
Their newfound waterjet cutting capability with natural stone can now be seen on a government building in Cincinnati. Laser Imaging & Design completed a 108-inch diameter emblem made of 4,600 lbs of white carrera marble for a local branch of the FBI. 137 marble pieces, ranging from 0.375 inches to 1.25 inches in thickness, were layered to complete the sign. Every piece was cut on the MAXIEM Waterjet. Additionally, the operator did not experience a single machine malfunction during the cutting process.
"We really pushed the waterjet hard to cut that project. We ran the MAXIEM a full two weeks, eight hours a day." Mr. Smith said. "It was the first time I ever cut carrera marble with a waterjet. The MAXIEM's jet stream can cut through 1.25 inches of material, and the back side is as smooth of a cut as the front side."
His team enjoys bragging about how their waterjet complements their traditional stone cutting equipment such as diamond saws, sandblasters, and saw blades. Compared to a waterjet cutting stream, a diamond wire is limited to cutting shapes with tight corners or small radiuses, he said. A diamond saw typically removes 0.125 of an inch from the material. When cutting with a saw blade, the saw takes away 0.125 or 0.25 of the material when making cuts into expensive stone. In contrast, their waterjet operator can acquire a kerf width of 0.030 of an inch with a 0.030-inch mixing tube installed in the MAXIEM's cutting nozzle. The Laser Imaging and Design team expressed they are more than pleased with the waterjet's cutting results.
On certain occasions, Mr. Smith's design team also incorporates stainless steel, aluminum, and other material into their stonework designs, and the parts can be produced on their abrasive waterjet as well.
"The MAXIEM is really opening up avenues for us and allows us to escape the boundaries of being stuck with working only one type of stone for a monument or memorial project," he said. "That's exciting in the monument industry!"
Most monument or memorial projects are just made of one type of granite. Laser Design & Imaging found ways to inlay multi-colored stone shapes into a larger piece of work to achieve a richer, visual montage for the end product. Their artistic design concepts turned heads at the 2011 National Monument Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The designers created a customized monument featuring an etched image of a 1957 Chevrolet in black granite. They used their MAXIEM 1530 to cut the outer shape of the '57 Chevy from 0.375-inch thick granite; placed the newly cut part onto their laser machine to etch the image; sandblasted the red quartzite to hollow out a shallow silhouette of the car; and then embedded the black granite '57 Chevy piece into the main red quartzite background.
The MAXIEM Waterjet is helping the Laser Imaging & Design team master their trade in monument production, Mr. Smith said. He admits the MAXIEM Waterjet was a big purchase for his business, however, he is seeing the investment pay off with new cutting projects from well-established clients recognizing his company's unique capabilities.
They are looking forward to repeat business with tile and countertop companies, such as Mees Distributors, a leading dealer of ceramic tile and natural stone in Ohio. The client approached him with a request to cut dimensional lettering for a regional bank's sign. When the project evolves into a nationwide branding effort for the bank, Laser Imaging & Design will not need to outsource waterjet cutting services to meet demand. Also unlike before, Laser Imaging & Design accepts project requests from customers wishing to cut non-stone material. For example, they cut vinyl commercial flooring to create a large mascot logo for an elementary school gymnasium. Before they acquired the MAXIEM, Mr. Smith would have hired a contracting service for the project or referred the client to a specialty job shop.
Now he can proudly say those days of outsourcing are over for his company. He can control the quality and lead time of his cutting projects and reap the profits, thanks to the addition of a MAXIEM Waterjet.
"I think with a couple more years of waterjetting experience under our belt, we're really going to be known about our super creative skills, especially in the monument industry," Mr. Smith said. "You are going to hear a lot about us in the future."