Italian firm specializes in slab finishing

September 1, 2002
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Given the broad range of firms in the vast stoneworking region of Carrara, Italy, (and the sheer volume of stone being fabricated there) it is logical that certain companies would develop a specialty to give them a niche market of customers. One example of this is Ulivi Marmi of Massa, Italy, which has developed a state-of-the-art facility for reinforcing and polishing stone slabs.

The company begins by bringing in raw slabs. During the first step of the process, the slabs are driven by a conveyor into a massive heating and drying unit, which removes any trace of water from the slab. This unit places the slabs within an environment which is actually drier than the ambient air humidity, which allows for maximum efficiency in applying the resin.

After this stage, the resin is applied to the surface, and the slabs are moved to a second heating and drying unit, where the resin is dried at a rate much faster than it would naturally dry. If needed, the slab is then flipped, and the resin is applied to the other side of the slab as well. Given the varied nature of the stone materials processed by Ulivi Marmi, the resin often needs to be applied by hand, as the workers will rely on their personal experience to determine which areas of a slab will need the most resin. Tenax EE Epoxy Resin, a low-viscosity system for reinforcing marble and granite, is used for most materials, and it was formulated for low odor emission during application or curing. When additional reinforcement is necessary, the slab is treated with a polyester resin from Tenax, and fiberglass netting is also used when needed.

After the resin is applied and the slab is fully dry, the material continues on to a 6-head Breton calibrating line, which is equipped with diamond abrasives from Tenax. After calibration, the slabs continue to a 14-head Breton polishing line, which uses Tenax Finegrain or Synthetic Frankfurt bricks, depending on the material being polished.

After polishing, Tenax Skudo, a water-based sealer, is applied to the slabs. This product makes the surface of the slab oil and water repellent in indoor or outdoor environments. Also, a water-based wax, Tenax Sealux, is applied to give the slabs a better visual effect and a higher gloss.

Due to the large amount of automation in the plant, Ulivi Marmi is able to reinforce 600 square meters of slabs per day. Although the polish-ing capacity is 800 square meters per day, the reinforcement will always take more time because of the extra resin and netting application needed for certain materials.

The firm, which was founded in 1963 and has seven employees, operates for a total of 8 to 10 hours per day. Its business is currently comprised of contract work that it does for other firms, and it is considering the purchase of a gangsaw in the near future.

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