The renaissance of the stone industry internationally - and in the U.S. in particular - has created a demand for a wide variety of stone products from around the world. One of the materials that has enjoyed success is Brazilian slate, and to satisfy the demands of the international marketplace, MAP established a new plant for slab processing in Brazil in 2002.

The facility can process slabs as well as architectural work, and 100% of its production is exported. To equip the new facility, MAP selected a combination of machinery from Italy, Argentina and Brazil. Equipment includes five gauging machines as well as various cutting and polishing machinery and a broad range of handling equipment. A total of 40 workers are employed at the new factory.

Slabs are processed into typical thicknesses of 3⁄4 and 1 inch, with a typical slab size of 7 x 4 feet. Architectural pieces include fireplaces, tabletops, sills, cladding and cut-to-size projects. The machinery at the new plant can furnish the surface of the slate with a variety of finishes, including natural (cleft), honed, brushed and bush-hammered. Overall, the facility has a total capacity of 215,000 square feet of slate per month.

With the advanced machinery in place, MAP is able to offer slab products with very tight tolerances. Stone with a cleft finish has a tolerance of +/- 1 mm, while stone with a honed finish can be finished even tighter, according to the company.