Quartz Surfacing Plant Rises in India
August 1, 2009
Capitalizing on the growing popularity of quartz surfacing, Pokarna Limited through its wholly owned subsidiary, Pokarna Engineered Stone Limited (PESL), has launched a new quartz product line - Quantra - and it is being processed at a new factory in Vishakapatnam, India, using the Bretonstone System from Breton S.p.A. of Italy, which is considered to be among the finest of its kind in the world.
The plant’s location in the port city of Vishakapatnam - often referred to as Vizag - has several advantages, according to Pokarna. Among them, it allows the factory to utilize quartz from its home state of Andhra Pradesh, which is noted for its strong physical characteristics and high level of clarity. Pokarna founder Gautam Chand Jain, Chairman and Managing Director of the company, explained that this allows for a bright finished product. It is also a short flight away from Pokarna’s head office in Secunderabad, also in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Quantra quartz surfacing stone is acid-resistant as well as stain- and scratch-resistant. It is also slip resistence and has exceptional durability, Pokarna reports. The initial quartz surfacing line includes 30 different Quantra colors, and a full spectrum of custom colors can be developed on request. The facility has an extensive laboratory, where the company’s R&D staff can develop new colors, and it has modern machinery to carry out tests and analysis of the various products. Finished products have a quartz content of approximately 93%, and elements like steel, copper, mother-of-pearl and glass can be added to the mix for a unique aesthetic. The plant also manufactures “veined looking,” “granite looking” and “fiorito” quartz surfacing. In its product development, the R&D staff at Pokarna actually developed 750 colors, from which the initial selections were made.
The production processOverall, Pokarna’s facility for manufacturing Quantra sits on 40 acres of property, and the production line was built over an area of 8 acres, explained Siddharth Jain, Executive Director of Pokarna.
The process for creating quartz surfacing at the Quantra plant begins with a combination of raw materials, including quartz pieces of various sizes, resin, catalyst and other elements, all of which are processed on the Bretonstone technology. These materials are first fed into hoppers, and depending on the “recipe” for the finished product, they are delivered to one of four mixers. The presence of four mixers allows Pokarna to use up to four colors in a single slab of material. An additional mixer is in place for mono-colored slabs.
After mixing, the materials are automatically transported to the pressing area, where all “lumps” are removed, and the material is distributed as granules of a workable size. The product is then distributed into a rubber mold and pressed into slabs using a high-vibration vacuum press. The slabs then cure in a kiln for 25 minutes, and the mold is automatically separated from the slabs before they move to a cooling chamber.
After cooling, the slabs are trimmed to size and then automatically unloaded and delivered to the polishing line. This section of the plant also has room for a second polishing line, which is expected to be installed in 2011.
The polishing process for quartz slabs is similar to that used for raw granite slabs coming off a gangsaw, except the slabs first pass through a calibration area that includes two Levibreton KCP units to calibrate both sides of the slab.
The next step is grinding, using a Levibreton KCP unit with 18 working heads. A polished surface is then furnished by passing the slabs through a second Levibreton KCP unit, also with 18 working heads. A shot-blasting unit also allows Pokarna to offer the Quantra product with sand-blasted finish. They also offer slabs in “honed,” “leather,” “egg,” “velvet” and other textured finishes. Additionally, a UV treatment can automatically be applied so the Quantra products can be used for exterior applications.
The standard size for slab production is 305 x 140 cm, with custom sizes also available, and slabs are available in a 1.2-, 2- and 3-cm thickness. The modern line also has a capability of producing slabs with the size of 330 x 165 cm, which Pokarna intends to start in the near future. The processing line allows Pokarna to produce a Quantra slab every two minutes, and each slab passes through a designated quality-control station. In addition to looking for color or physical defects, the quality-control specialist also checks the slabs with a micrometer and a gloss meter.
The Quantra factory also produces tiles on a line that begins using a Breton JoyCut FB/NC 500 cutting unit and continues with the various chamfering and beveling processes. Tiles are available in standard sizes of 30 x 30, 40 x 40 and 60 x 60 cm in a 12-mm thickness, and custom sizes are available on request.
Beyond slab and tile manufacturing, the Quantra factory also has a designated area for cut-to-size quartz production, and equipment in this area includes a Breton SpeedyCut FK NC 800 programmable bridge saw, a Breton NC 260 K23 CNC stoneworking center and a Breton EasyEdge automated edge polisher.
Pokarna recycles and recovers 100% of the water used during the manufacturing process, and it also has a state-of-the-art system for dust collection and removal. When not being fed to the production line, the resin and catalyst is stored in large refrigeration units, which maintain a temperature of approximately 53.6 degrees F (12 degrees C) for the resin and approximately 46.4 degrees F (8 degrees C) for the catalyst.
Now that Pokarna’s Quantra plant has begun full-scale production, the company is already working on its first major project, a shopping mall in Cochin, India, that will require 400,000 square feet of quartz surfacing.