Technology investments bolster Canadian producer
Nestled among the pine-covered hills of Saint-Sébastien in Québec, Canada, A. Lacroix et Fils Granit Ltée processes stone with advanced stoneworking machinery that is being updated on a continual basis. Operating with a dedicated staff of experienced workers, the family-run company has invested in the latest generation of technology for slab production as well as custom architectural stonework.
Slab and tile productionThe centerpiece of the company’s slab production is a Polywire 32 multi-wire saw from Pellegrini Meccanica of Italy, which is used to process blocks into raw slabs. According to the firm, the unit does the work of several gangsaws, and the foundation is a fraction of the cost of a gangsaw. “This will be our future,” said Simon Lacroix, the company’s vice president.
The saw can cut slabs ranging from 2 to 5 cm in thickness, and A. Lacroix currently has the unit set up for 3-cm slab material. When processing material of this size, A. Lacroix equips the saw with 22 wires.
He credited Diamant Boart for developing the optimum diamond wire for the machine. “They have come up with a very good endless wire,” he said, adding that the precision of the wire allows them to recover an extra one or two slabs per block processed.
A. Lacroix did a great deal of research before making the investment in this new technology. “We were balancing the investment and the payback, and we were also looking at our long-term production,” Simon Lacroix said.
Slabs are polished on a Levibreton polishing line with 19 polishing heads. On average, A. Lacroix has a polishing capacity of 1,500 square feet per hour.
In general, though, A. Lacroix only treats 5 to 10% of its slab material with resin, using the process on materials such as Atlantic Black or Orion, which have surface fissures. “They are not structurally poor, but [resin treatment] enhances the look,” Simon Lacroix explained.
Slab and tile production is mainly comprised of material from A. Lacroix’s own quarries, in addition to some U.S. granite varieties such as Deer Isle, Kershaw, Dakota Mahogany, etc.
Architectural workIn addition to investments in slab production, A. Lacroix is also continually updating its machinery in the cut-to-size end of the business. This includes a multi-head saw from Breton that can automatically execute a broad range of specific cuts on a workpiece. After the unit is pre-programmed with the desired sizes of the project, the workpiece moves to the cutting heads via conveyor and the initial cuts are made. The piece then leaves the cutting area, is automatically repositioned, and then returns to the blades for further cutting as needed.
For three-dimensional work, Lacroix has a range of advanced machinery. When processing large-scale pieces of this type, one of the key pieces of equipment is a Pellegrini Robot Wire saw, which can be programmed to make a range of intricate, complex cuts. The company also re-engineered a 7-axis Fanuc unit for three-dimensional stoneworking, and it has become a vital piece of machinery for custom stonework.
In terms of surface finishing, the company invested in a line that is capable of flaming, waterjet finishing and sandblasting. When processing material on this line, the company will often use combinations of the three different surface finishes. “The waterjet finishing brings out the color, especially in darker materials,” Simon Lacroix said. “The pearls also flash.”
Only about one-third to one-half of A. Lacroix’s architectural work is done in its own granites. Because it works on many government projects in America, much of the work tends to be completed in U.S. granites, as well as materials like Vermont marble and Indiana limestone.