Already a major supplier of blocks, slabs and finished products, Nikolaus Bagnara Ltd. recently underwent a major expansion with the construction of a plant for resin-treated slabs in Verona, Italy. This new plant features the latest in state-of-the-art technology, and it has been working with exotic stone materials from around the world.

The company imports granite and marble blocks from all over the world, although in recent years it has become more specialized in the import and sale of granite from North America -- such as Bethel White, Salisbury Pink, American Black, Blue Eyes and Silver Cloud -- and Scandinavia, including Artic Blue, Labrador Blue Pearl, Labrador Emerald Pearl, and Aurora. The company also works with exotic stones such as Wild West Green, Luise Blue and Esotic Blue, among other blue varieties.

The new facility 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. The resin is 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.

After the slabs come out of the oven, they sit for one day before polishing on a Levibreton KG 3000 polishing machine with 21 heads. Finally, a thin sheet of film is applied to protect the slabs during storage and shipment.

Overall, the factory produces nearly 11,000 square feet of slabs in a single shift, although company President Bruno Bagnara said the firm focuses on the quality of production more than the number of slabs produced. Due to the high level of automation, only five workers are needed in the 100,000-square-foot facility.

About 20% of the slab production is shipped to the U.S. market, with around eight containers of material being shipped to America each week.

The new resin plant is the latest venture for Nikolaus Bagnara Ltd., which was originally founded in Bolzano, Italy, in 1948, and now ranks as one of the leading suppliers and processors of natural stone blocks, slabs and finished products in the world. At the company's main facility in Appiano, Bolzano, Nikolaus Bagnara Ltd. offers a wide range of products, including staircases, windowsills and kitchen and bathroom tops (using a special CNC stoneworking center) from a variety of materials. There is also a large slab yard, and the company maintains an inventory of 200 slab varieties for its customers at three locations within Italy.