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Laser Engraved Cremation Urns as Memorials

by Harsh Sahni

Rustic Homeland Wooden Cremation Urn

From epitaphs to framed photos and angel figurines, there are many ways people choose to commemorate loved ones. Memorials are no longer restricted to tombstones. Modern technology has enabled us to express ourselves on cremation urns. One such technique of marking a dear one’s memory on urns for ashes is laser engraving. The Rustic Homeland Urn offered by OneWorld Memorials provides a good example.

Laser marking

The process of laser marking utilizes laser beams, as well as chemical or molecular alteration, charring, foaming, melting, and ablation. Each technique produces a different output. What distinguishes laser marking from other marking techniques is that it does not employ the use of ink or tool bits that make contact with the surface. The result is more permanent and doesn’t require periodic upkeep or replenishment.

How is laser engraving done on cremation urns?

Laser engraving is a specialized process involving a laser, a controller and the surface to be engraved such as a cremation urn. The laser is the beam of light that makes contact with the surface of the ashes urn and creates the imprint. The controller is the device used to execute this process, usually a computer. By using the energy delivered by the laser beam to heat up the surface, portions of the urn where the beam makes contact are vaporized leaving the desired imprint.

Another process referred to as glassing or glassing up, causes the material to fracture and flake off the surface. The process normally involves converting the light energy of the laser beam into heat energy to mark the surface. 

Recent technology has also made way for laser imaging. This process allows for an image to be scanned and reproduced on the cremation urn. The laser itself does not transmit color but it can change the color of the engraved item.

What materials are used for laser engraving on urns?

Given that the laser engraving process primarily involves converting light to heat energy, surfaces where a ‘burn’ imprint can be left, like wooden urns, are highly suited for this process. In fact, engraving on hardwoods like mahogany, maple and walnut produces excellent results.

Metal urns, on the other hand, need customization. Though traditionally metals have been easier to engrave, they pose a challenge with laser engraving. Each metal has unique properties and reacts to heat differently. By using lower intensity laser beams for metals that suit their composition, a satisfactory result can be obtained. Laser engraving is least suited for urns made of stone, for example marble urns and glass urns, as these materials don’t ‘burn’ the way wood burns.

Laser engraving for urns

Laser engraving is becoming a popular way to commemorate a loved one’s life. Some choose to have a picture of the deceased engraved on the urn, while others might opt for a few words. It is heartening to see modern science open more avenues to give vent to our sentiments. If you are deciding on an urn and would like a picture, your thoughts or words engraved as part of a memorial, consider a laser engraved urn as a suitable choice.

Harsh Sahni is a writer and researcher based in Delhi. He is keenly interested in social welfare and care for the vulnerable. He holds a master’s degree from the university of Delhi and from Oxford. His work has included projects for various agencies of the United Nations in India.