Processing a world of stone
Founded by Nicola Bagnara in 1948, Nikolaus Bagnara S.p.A. began operations as a monument producer and quarrier of porphyry in the area of Bolzano, Italy. Today, the company has developed into a major international stone supplier, as it processes slabs, tiles and architectural stonework using the latest equipment and technology.
While the company’s corporate headquarters are in Bolzano, it also has two slab storage facilities, a block storage facility and a processing plant in Verona, Italy, as well as a block storage facility near Carrara, Italy.
The company’s state-of-the-art resin and slab polishing plant in Verona was developed six years ago, and it is equipped with automated machinery from Breton, S.p.A. of Italy. After blocks are cut into raw slabs, they are calibrated on a Levibreton KCP calibrating machine with 10 working heads. They then enter a large oven, which can hold 40 slabs at one time, to remove all moisture from the slab. Resin products from Tenax S.p.A. of Italy are then automatically applied, and a vacuum chamber forces the resin deeper into the stone. More resin is then added to the surface, and netting is applied to the back of the slab as needed. The slabs then move into a second oven to speed the curing process.
Among the advances in resin treatment, Nikolaus Bagnara has begin using Glaxs, a new resin technology from Tenax. Considering the fact that sun and heat tend to yellow resin-treated material - which can be particularly evident on white or other light-colored materials - Tenax’s R&D Department developed a new product that offers guaranteed long-term transparence. The Glaxs resin has undergone a series of aging tests according to ASTM standards. According to Tenax, these results have shown a strong yellowing of epoxy resins, while the Glaxs resin has confirmed resistance to yellowing with high transparency. The product also has low environmental impact, Tenax reports, as it contains no solvents, is not corrosive and does not release irritating fumes.
The Glaxs resin is applied in the same manner as a traditional resin - after the honing application is completed.
In addition to slab processing, the facility also houses a large warehouse area for finished slabs. “We stock a lot more now, because our customers don’t like to stock as much as they used to,” Bagnara said, adding that it offers mixed bundles to its clients.
In terms of sales, Nikolaus Bagnara S.p.A. has been seeing a rebound, and it reports that after a 7% decline in revenue for 2009, sales for 2010 rebounded back to the level they were at in 2008, which it characterized as a “good” year. “The U.S. is going again, but we are not reliant only on that market,” Niko Bagnara said. “Central Europe is coming back, and we are also seeing activity in Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Canada.”
Looking to the future, Bagnara is predicting an uptick in business. “I’m positive, especially for higher-end materials,” he said. “We are fortunate to not be in the low-end market, because it is just a price issue, and the quality there is not as important.”