Covering all angles of stone production

May 5, 2004
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Beyond the renowned Valpolicella vineyards in Italy, the companies of the Testi Group are working natural stone from the historic quarries of Italy as well as materials imported throughout the world. With its headquarters in Rivoli Veronese, Verona, Italy, and several distinct divisions, the group works in many sectors of the stone industry, and it supplied tiles, slabs and finished products to an international client base.

The company's Graniti Marmi Affi division processes granite slabs as well as cut-to-size pieces. The newest investment for this division is a slab processing line purchased a year ago with a broad range of equipment from Breton S.p.A. of Italy. On this line, slabs are first processed on a Levibreton KCP calibrating line, which has eight heads, and they continue onto a Levibreton KG 3000 polishing line, which is equipped with 21 heads. The machinery is equipped with abrasives from Tyrolit Vincent, an Italian firm. The polishing line has software that can not only detect the thickness of the slab, but all dimensions, so it can operate to optimum efficiency.

The second slab line at Graniti Marmi Affi is only three years old, and it features a Levibreton KG 2000. After processing on either line, slabs are sealed to fix microfractures as needed and also to make them water resistant.

With its advanced equipment, the company is able to offer 11-mm-thick slabs that are calibrated to an accuracy of 1⁄2 mm or even more accuracy if required. These are primarily used for residential kitchen projects in Northern Europe, where the stone is glued to metal and foam backing, making it lightweight and strong.

The cut-to-size area at Testi Group's Graniti Marmi Affi division has a broad range of machinery, including a CMG Taurus 100 XL edging machine as well as several bridge saws. Waterjets from Flow and Waterjet Italia -- as well as various pieces of CNC equipment -- are also used by the group for cut-to-size work.

The Graniti Marmi Affi division processes 1,500 square meters of slabs and 500 square meters of cut-to-size material per day. According to Tomas Brolin of Testi Group, the company could process up to 2,000 square meters of slabs per day, but they want to also ensure the highest quality for its finished products.

Testi Group's Combus division is an operation for polishing and adding reinforcement netting and resin to marble slabs. It also processes some granite to support Graniti Marmi Affi.

The entire processing line was supplied to the company by Breton S.p.A. Prior to being treated with the resin, slabs are placed in an oven that is heated to 54 to 66 degrees C to remove all humidity, and then Tenax resin and fiberglass netting is applied as needed. The slabs then enter a vacuum unit where the resin is forced deeper into the stone, and this is followed by transport into a second oven, where the slabs sit for two hours as the resin cures.

Slabs are also treated with Tenax Protex, a sealer for very porous stones which offers oil protection and will not change the color of the stone.

For tile processing, the Testi Group has its Granitika division, which processes 800 square meters of stone per day. The tile line processes several standard sizes, and it also fabricates tiles in odd custom dimensions on request. In addition to multiple tile sizes, Granitaka offers special finishes, such as brushed, honed, antiqued and “Patinato,” which is a high-honed and brushed finish. This unique process wears down the softer areas of the surface, but gives a polish to the harder areas, replicating the natural aging process of paving tiles.

For tile processing, the company operates three Simec blockcutters and two Simec tile lines. Tiles are categorized according to the original block number.

Sales and marketing

In all, the company has a total of 136 employees working for the group, not including those involved in the quarrying operations. The Testi Group exports 22 to 24 % of its production to the U.S. market, particularly slabs and cut-to-size products. It has supplied stone for architectural projects throughout the U.S., including prestigious office buildings in Manhattan as well as commercial projects such as the Galleria Mall in Cleveland, OH, and Boca Park in Las Vegas, NV.

In addition to the U.S., the group's architectural work can also be found throughout the world, including such projects as the Royal Garden Hotel in Tokyo, Japan; the Marriott Hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and the Sheraton Park Hotel in London, England. One example of large-scale cubic work can be found in the “Glory to Ukraine” Independence Monument in Kiev, which was completed in time for the nation's 10th anniversary of their independence in August of 2001. This project, which was designed by sculptor Anatoly Kushch and is 65 meters in height, was completed on a very tight timetable of only 45 working days. A total of 2,200 pieces of Bethel White granite from Rock of Ages was used for the project, comprising 200 cubic meters of stone. The stonework for the Baroque-style monument was all completed by computers and by hand. “The CNC would only go so far, and some products had to be hand finished,” explained Piereluigi Testi, general manager of the Testi Group.

In addition to architectural work, the company also fabricates monuments and furnishings. For example, it fabricates marble lamp bases for Castiglioni, the renowned Italian furnishing supplier, and it now supplies 6,500 pieces for the firm each year.

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