July 28, 2011

Gravestone technology

Alexis Madrigal visits the graveyard where his grandmother is buried and discovers "lasers had arrived in the death industry,"

As we circumnavigated the plots, we began to see a pattern. Shiny, black headstones lined vast tracts of lighter gray headstones "almost like stitching," Sarah observed. These headstones were different from the ones that had come before them. Not only were they a different color and texture, they also featured photorealistic portraits of the people buried underneath them. They were a new breed of monument. One look at them could have told you that no human hand had chiseled those drawings in the stone.

... a small Fitchburg, Massachusetts company, Vytek, a subsidiary of Vinyl Technologies, decided that lasers could be used to make a better gravestone.

In 1989, Vytek began to sell laser systems specifically to the monument industry that could take a photograph or drawing and reproduce it on granite. The laser works almost like a printer, but instead of putting dark ink on white paper, the laser blasts away the polished surface of the granite to reveal the lighter rock underneath. Then, a worker goes over the lasered parts with a razor blade, scraping very lightly to remove any debris. The process produces a high-resolution grayscale image on the stone, a far cry from the thick line drawings that chiseling and sandblasting had allowed before. A name could have a face.
Our death stones are shiny and global and technologized to display high-resolution portraits of our loved ones.

In the Atlantic, Lasers for the Dead: A Story About Gravestone technology

Posted by Jill Fallon at July 28, 2011 3:56 PM | Permalink