Those beautiful granite kitchen countertops that you see on glossy magazines are usually crafted with the help of CNC cutting machines. Many people are surprised to know that such pieces of finely crafted home features are the product of advancements in stone fabrication.
Many people are finding it very exciting to put up a new stone countertop in their kitchen, but to some, it would be a bit scary. This is because it involves making a decision today which you will need to live with for many years to come.
No one from the stone fabrication industry is expecting their consumers to be subject matter experts in the fabrication and installation of natural stones. However, the more educated you are in this area, the higher the odds are that you will receive a smooth, seamless experience.
Inspecting the Slab
This is the first from a series of steps in CNC stone fabrication. The stone fabricators will check out and take a closer look at your chosen slab of granite stone. It is natural for stone slabs like granite to have characteristics that are indigenous to it. In humans, these characteristics are comparable to birthmarks.
These characteristics may include black spots, dry seams, pits, polyester resin fill or its natural directional veining. These features are not to be seen as flaws, they are natural and they’re what’s making these stones unique and beautiful. If there would be instances that a customer will not find any of these characteristics as enticing at all, the stone fabricator will make a way to avoid them during the process of templating and fabrication.
After inspecting the stone slab, it will be laid out so that the fabricator can arrange on it his pre-created templates. This measure is crucial in ensuring that the stone will have its best appearance in terms of color and vein texture.
Aside from which, templates also allow the appropriate flow of your countertop in various layouts. Like for instance if you have instead an L shaped countertop that is perpendicular or parallel to your kitchen island, you want to see to it that the overall countertop pattern flow would work okay with your completed project.
Such natural beautiful features are usually seen in natural stone as opposed to quarts, which makes the process crucially important when working with marble or granite stone. This is the point in time when the role of the templater is to be held as the major key player. Of paramount importance here is the level of artistry and experience.
Cutting the Stone
Cutting of the stone slab can be carried out using either a bridge saw or water jet. By history, it is easy to see that the bridge saw is the time favored tool in this industry. But in recent years, changes transpired and made the “saw jet” to come into play. It is a combination of saw and water jet.
A bridge saw cuts through a granite stone slab with its diamond segmented blade. It can cut through at an estimated feed rate of 7 feet per minute. In the case of a water jet, it cuts through a stone slab with the help of high-pressure water mixed with garnet particulate.
These abrasive materials remain suspended in the water with a feed rate of 1 foot a minute. At the back of their minds, some people will be asking, who would cut using a water jet?
The use of a water jet is more advantageous in such a way that it can help in cutting seamless circles or any other intricate pattern that a project may have. The demarcation line for bridge saw can be seen here because they can only cut straight lines.
It is at this stage that your undermount sink cutouts, faucet holes, and cooktop are all made. The first thing to do is to cut the stone slab into approximately 1/16 of an inch of its completed final size.
By this time, the CNC cutting machine will have to be programmed already that will make it determine the exact size of the stones that are on the table. It is okay to have several pieces of stones on the table because you can work on them together.
The CNC cutting machine can be programmed in such a way that it will determine the exact locations of the stones and what it should be doing with each one of them.
Due to the different working characteristics of each stone, paramount to your success here is that you have a highly experienced and skilled CNC machine operator. This is a typical example of a job where technology and artistry combine and work together to produce an optimized finished product.
There are natural stone materials that will need your advanced CNC cutter to move more slowly, while others would require the stone to be entered in a certain fashion. In the absence of industry experience, the stone fabrication industry won’t stand a chance on producing the best result which we consumers want to see.