As technology continues to advance, more and more fabricators are investing in state-of-the-art digital templating systems, which allow for faster and more accurate measurements, according to manufacturers.

The following is a brief look at some of the more popular electronic and digital templating systems on the market today:

The Proliner® Digital Template System, distributed in the U.S. by Blick Industries and Innovative Stone, is a state-of-the-art, portable, digital measuring device that streamlines construction templating and layout tasks. The tool dramatically increases productivity per person through the production of fast, accurate on-site measurements that directly connect to CAD/CAM equipment for manufacturing purposes. The Proliner eliminates the need for handmade drawings and templates, as templates are created by tracing objects using the Proliner’s pen while clicking a button on a remote control. During this process, straight lines can be recorded as well as continuous scribed contours. Once measurements are taken, they can be viewed and manipulated on the machine’s large touch-screen display and integrated CAD program. Being compatible with CAD-CAM equipment, the Proliner provides an efficient path from concept and design to finished product, according to Blick Industries and Innovative Stone.

The Proliner measures in full three-dimensional, drastically improving its performance in creating accurate two-dimensional templates. Measuring in three-dimensional eliminates the need for leveling, and frees the user to measure on any surface whether horizontal, vertical or anywhere in between, reports the distributors.

Proliner® technology offers fabricators a simplified path from jobsite measurement to production of the final fabricated product, all in one convenient, extremely portable package.

Fabricator benefits:

• Speed – The lack of setup makes the Proliner very fast. Simply place the Proliner on a stable surface, turn it on and start measuring. Once done, manipulate the drawing in the built in CAD software, and save it as a DXF.

• Versatile – The Proliner is very versatile due to its full three-dimensional capabilities and scribing function. This allows the machine to measure on any surface including countertops, full-height backsplashes, staircases and shower walls. The continuous scribe feature makes measuring sinks, tubs and imperfect drywall easy.

• Accurate – The Proliner measures to within 1/32 inch.

• Easy to Use – Measuring with the Proliner is an intuitive process. The user actually touches the shape that is being measured and sees the shape appear on the machine’s screen in real time. The integrated CAD program has been streamlined for use in the countertop industry and does not require prior CAD or computer skills.

System Specifications:

• Weight: 18 pounds

• Dimensions: 14.5 x 12.5 x 7.5 inches

• Range: Measures up to 40 feet in diameter (unlimited range with built- in “leapfrog” feature)

• Display Screen: 8.4 inches

• Memory: 32 MB (10,000 drawings)

• Physical Storage: On board internal drawers

• File formats: .dxf .prl .ccd

• Power Requirements: Rechargeable battery or AC

• Error rate of less than 1/32 inch

• On-screen CAD

• USB Connectivity

• No leveling or setup required

• Measuring Head tucks into itself for protection during transport

ETemplate System

ETemplate System offers a templating system with fully automated DXF/CAD drawing capability and a machine that automatically verifies accuracy with a capacity to handle 500 million measurement points per click of the camera, the company reports. The photographs allow the user to extract any measurements needed directly from the photos while sitting at a desk in the fabrication shop. It eliminates drive-backs, and no consumables are required, but if used, the average consumable cost per job is just $2, the company reports.

Since its pioneering days in 2001, when it was the only digital field templating choice, ETemplate has grown from being user intensive, heavily dependent on CAD knowledge into a fully automated system with automatic processing and DXF drawing. It automatically measures everything at least twice. The visual benefits provide a photographic memory.

ETemplate Version 2.3 is a versatile and comprehensive three-dimensional measuring system, easily measuring stairs, wall cladding, backsplashes, tub surrounds and showers as well as countertops. No tripod, no leveling and no range, reach or line-of-sight limitations exist, the company reports. Photographs are taken with ETemplate’s calibrated digital camera and automatically processed to a CAD/DXF that can be used to cut a vinyl template, print a detailed shop drawing and go directly to any CNC machine. The DXF is created with a single click of the mouse including overhang and radii to the users specifications. ETemplate has the exclusive ability to visually verify the final countertop design by placing it on the cabinets, to scale, on the jobsite photographs. For companies with two or more templaters, additional templating units are one-third to one-sixth the cost of other technologies. ETemplate works for any shop, automated or not, reports the manufacturer.

ETemplate uses digital photographs in the same manner that a GPS uses aerial satellites. Using triangulation, ETemplate Photo precisely measures the ETemplate Intelli-Marks to define the countertop design. A pictorial history and integrated quality-control features provides the fabricator a reliable set of information. ETemplate can also be used to create scaled photographs of stone slabs for digital template layout. This allows the user to photograph the slabs at any time, in any location, without using machine time.

The visual and measurement capabilities enable the management of new slabs and remnant pieces for inventory control purposes. This also helps the user visually layout the templates for seam analysis, reports ETemplate System

PhotoTopâ„¢ Digital Templating

PhotoTop™ Digital Templating from Fabricator’s Choice of St. Paul, MN, offers flexibility on the jobsite and economical expandability as business grows, the company reports. Along with its ability to measure extremely small and tight areas, PhotoTop provides automated measurement data such as square area and linear distances. It even allows the manual extraction of pinpoint measurement data directly from the photos after the initial field measure. The system is highly popular among fabricators who envision automation as a growing force in their markets, the company reports.

Fabricator’s Choice reports that it has achieved total integration with both the shop and office business systems through continuous research and development, user input and daily usage. By using the digital templating system, measurements and templates can be completed on location or e-mailed to the CNC from the nearest wi-fi location, reducing travel time and making the entire process more financially efficient, reports the manufacturer.

Fabricator’s Choice has made a major commitment to continued product development and to providing highly professional training programs for serious countertop producers. The digital templating education programs offered at Fabricator’s Choice are designed and conducted by industry experts who have done the same work their students are being taught to do. They know the industry, so attendees get hands-on field and in-shop experience before becoming certified to use the system, the company reports. A new PhotoTop 3.0 upgrade is coming soon from Fabricator’s Choice.

LT-55 Precision Laser Templator

The LT-55 Precision Laser Templator from Laser Products Industries of Romeoville, IL, allows users to move faster and have the ability to store thousands of countertops on a small memory card. Users can also cut vinyl templates to trace or use for layout.

The simplicity of the machine eliminates the need to learn CAD to use the digital templator. Completed .dxf files for CNCs and plotters and sink drop-ins can be seen in seconds, the company reports. Free estimating software is also included. According to the company, there is no need to purchase laptop computers because a fully loaded PocketPC, with everything to complete the most difficult jobs, is provided.

This unit provides field measurements in .dxf format. In 1 ½ minutes users can have a 50-point measurement on DXF, reports Laser Products. With the LT-55, users will see the drawing before they leave the site, and they can e-mail it back to the shop.