Stone Column

Stone Column: Embracing Technology

August 1, 2005
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+
Over the years, companies in the stone industry have developed a reputation as a bunch of “good old boys.” This has been particularly true of stone fabricators. Given this assessment, one might get the impression that the typical stone fabricator in North America sets about his daily business with a hammer and chisel - and perhaps a hat made of folded newspaper.

And while this description may conjure up a classic stereotype, it is also quite inaccurate. As someone who has been covering our trade for Stone World for over 12 years, I have personally seen the industry thoughtfully embrace new technology over the course of time. One of the first advances I saw was the widespread acceptance of diamond tooling, which has resulted in increased efficiency and productivity that more than makes up for the initial dollar investment.

The next major step was perhaps CNC technology. Ten years ago, I remember driving great distances just to see CNC routers cutting kitchen countertops. Sure, there were some CNC machines around for large architectural work - particularly in major stoneworking regions around the world - but to see them cutting granite for Mrs. Smith's kitchen was newsworthy stuff.

Today, however, I can think of at least a half dozen CNC fabricators within a few minutes' drive of my office in New Jersey, including one that I have walked to on occasion. And new companies are entering the sector on a continual basis. This issue of Stone World includes four such fabricators, including two that were using CNC technology from the first day they entered stone fabrication.

I should caution here that while CNC technology can be tremendously effective, a shop needs to assess whether or not its current and anticipated volume and type of work necessitates the investment. Two of the companies I mentioned above had expanded from other countertop trades into stone, and thus had a market in place. After all, the CNC machine needs to be running if it is going to pay for itself. There are many factors to consider when evaluating the investment, and these are addressed in this month's feature, “Are you ready to move to CNC?” (page 70).

The next technological wave appears to be digital templating. Systems for electronically measuring a jobsite and creating digital templates have been developed by several companies, and they are gaining more exposure and use over time. We look at several available systems in this issue, including a pair of case studies on firms that use this technology as the focal point of their trade. In a similar technological leap, computerized systems for estimating, inventory and job tracking are also becoming more and more common in the fabrication shop.

So as this technology continues to advance, we'll keep showing you examples right here in the pages of Stone World. Of course, even with this technology in hand, the need for craftsmanship in the stone trade remains critical. This thought was conveyed by virtually all of the CNC users we interviewed, so don't throw away the hammer and chisel (or the newspaper hat) just yet.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Stone World 

Recent Articles by Michael Reis

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

November 2014 Stone Products Gallery

Check out the November Stone World image gallery!

Stone World Magazine

Stone World December 2014

2014 December

Check out Stone World's last issue of the year, which includes a recap of TISE East and Marmomacc.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Contemporary Stone & Tile Design Magazine

CSTD Fall 2014 cover

2014 Fall

In this issue of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design, we take a look at the latest developments in TPT, with a feature article and you can read more comments from Waldrep on this subject as well as other industry professionals.

Table Of Contents Subscribe


Are you aware of the new stone standard – ANSI/NSC 373 Sustainability Assessment for Natural Dimension Stone?
View Results Poll Archive

The Stone World Store

How to Polish & Restore Marble Flooring

This video will show you step-by-step how to resurface and polish marble flooring from grinding and removing lippage and scratches to achieving a highly reflective polish.

More Products

Stone Industry Education

Stone Industry Education

From marketing and much more!  We provide natural stone professionals with stone knowledge and education they can count on, as well as great networking opportunities. Click here to go to Stone Industry Education.


facebook logo Twitter  YouTubeGoogle+

Stone Guide 2014

2014 Stone World Stone Guide

The directory for Stone, Equipment and Supplies - the single information resource readers turn to.