In the 90s it took around 20 minutes to engrave the simple date on a stone with the help of rubber sheet and X- Acto knife, but nowadays it takes only 5 minutes to do the same job. As per the US Department of labor, most engravers and etchers are using the latest automated tools and it is the most automated occupation in the USA.
Engravers and etchers who have been in the business from the last 20-30 years have shown mixed responses when asked whether they are happy with this automation or not. Some say it is time saving where some say that machines took most of their employment. Everyone has their own story. Richard who is also in the business from a long time says that now he uses a laptop and a special kind of printer to do the engraving. He says that he can engrave anything without spending too much time and labor. Machines are doing most of the work with ease. It is not the only occupation where automation has been done but other occupations also adapted automation very early. Everyone wants to do their job as early as possible.
There are many engravers who started their business in an old-fashioned way but now using a computer to engrave text not only on but on other metals as well. There was a time when engraving a plaque took around 3-4 hours of time but now it completes in less than 20 minutes. It requires less human work. Another Utah based family who started engraving in 1993 says that their father used hand engraving on stone with stencil method and spent almost a day but now it takes only 45 minutes. Asked from Royal engravers, in 1978 they started the business and when they brought their first computer then they found that by using it, saving 6 employees salary.
Engravers argued that using new technology had increased number of jobs. As per the US Bureau of labor statistic, there is no significant change in the last ten years, in the number of engravers and etchers. Not only number of engravers and etchers but wages of then is also steady. With this steady rate of employment companies view this as an opportunity to cut labor cost. Sometimes people get bored doing the same work again and again but this does not apply to machines. It gives companies more business because machines can do the repetitive job with ease and employees can focus on new businesses.
Before automated machines work could be tedious, “There’s still a lot of artistic stuff that goes into it,” says Dalton. “You just don’t have to spend hours transferring your art to the stone”. Automation worked in engraving but not in all the businesses. Many businesses faced job loss due to automation. Industrial robots took most of the jobs in factories. But experts believe that since we are working on artificial intelligence we will need skilled manpower to work on.