Friday, January 13, 2017
We get inquiries from individuals about setting up a solid surface factory who were not clear of the differences between ‘cultured marble’ and ‘solid surface’. What we refer to as ‘cultured marble’ is called ‘solid surface’ in many parts of the world. We offer solid surface equipment as well as cultured marble equipment so we can set up a factory to produce either.
If someone wants to manufacture bathroom and kitchen building materials locally, a ‘cultured marble’ factory is the easiest to set up and cultured marble is the easiest to manufacture and the least costly product to produce.
Solid Surface is a great product. It’s beautiful, very durable, stain resistant, available in a large variety of solid and granite colors, requires very little maintenance and most important, is easy to clean, easy to repair and won’t harbor bacteria which makes it a popular choice for kitchens, commercial installations and hospitals. Solid surface is made in flat sheets that can be fabricated for endless seamless possibilities.
Cultured marble is also very durable, stain resistant, available in a large variety of solid and granite colors, requires very little maintenance, is easy to clean, and won’t harbor bacteria. The main difference is that cultured marble is restricted to the mold it is poured on as it cannot be seamed together like solid surface. But, since cultured marble products are made from a wide assortment of molds, it is basically ready for the market when it is taken off the mold.
Some quick facts:
∙ Cultured marble does not require fabrication. Solid surface does.
∙ Cultured marble does not require a belt sander and other fabrication tools. Solid surface does.
∙ Cultured marble does not require a vacuum blender. Manufacturing solid surface does.
∙ Cultured Marble does not require a post cure oven. Solid surface does.
∙ Cultured Marble is made from inexpensive crushed limestone that is available everywhere in the world. Solid surface requires a refined raw material that has to be imported in most parts of the world.
To see a solid surface factory layout, go to http://www.sunriseinternationalcompany.com/ssequipmentlayout.html
You will find various sizes of cultured marble factory layouts at the bottom of this page:
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Monday, April 7, 2014
Note: There are two pages on each Excel worksheet. Click on the tabs at the bottom of each file to view both pages.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Labor Savings:The equipment in the photo below (I’m showing only the storage racks) was installed a little over a year ago. The shop manager in this factory told me that immediately after they installed it, they finished on Wednesday what it was taking them till Friday to complete. That’s a huge 40% reduction in labor cost! If you produced the same amount of product with only one less employee, that itself would probably pay for the equipment in a year. If you had eight employees, six people would be capable of producing the same amount of cultured marble products per day.
Increased Production:This same factory is producing between 35% to 40% more marble today than they were prior to installing the equipment a little over a year ago. It’s not uncommon to find that a cultured marble shop that is no longer taking any new customers because their production capacity is maxed out. If they would simply install some mold storage and conveyor equipment, they could possibly double their output each day/week/month. If they increased their production only 20% per year, this would pay for the equipment in a year.
Space Savings:You can save an incredible amount of space with the equipment. Each level of each section of storage rack in the photo below is 96 square feet. As you can see, there are five levels in each one of these racks. That is 480 square feet of mold storage space per one, five-level rack. If you take this 480 total square feet per storage rack set, X the five sets of storage racks, you’re looking at a total of 2400 Square Feet of mold racks. That’s a lot of molds in 480 square feet. If this factory had these molds in their factory without the storage racks, they would have wall-to-wall chaos. It would not be possible to move them through the manufacturing process.
Attitudes: The chaos in a factory without equipment is frustrating for everybody. With a cultured marble manufacturing system, your molds will follow a systematic path through the manufacturing process. You can see this flow at http://www.culturedmarblemolds.com/equipment.html. Keep in mind that with one hand, you can easily roll the molds through this manufacturing process. You and your employees will be amazed at how easy cultured marble manufacturing can be when you have the right tool (equipment) to do the job. You’ll see an immediate improvement in attitudes and few more smiles in your factory.
Whether you have a 3,000 square foot or a 20,000 square foot factory, I guarantee you that you will cut labor cost, increase production, save space, reduce your overhead, and have happier and more productive staff in your factory.
Give me a call or fax me a hand-drawn floor plan in your factory and I’ll send you the approximate cost of what a system would cost you. We will need to know the following:
a. width, length, and approximate height of building
b. location of door - both overhead and walk in (people) doors
c. location of columns or post (if any) in the work area
d. changes in the grade or irregularities in the floor (if any) of the work area: ramps, different levels, drains, etc…
e. location of office and rest room areas
f. location of your gel coat spray booth.
Climate: Heat is your friend in manufacturing cultured marble. Your cure time can be shortened a great deal with some heat. The warmer your climate is the faster your cure time will be. The faster the cure time, the sooner you can get your part off the mold and start the process over. Under ideal conditions (like a hot summer day) you may be able to get a marble product cured sufficiently to demold in a couple hours but in the wintertime, you may have to let the product sit on the mold four hours or more to cure enough to remove it from the mold.
The solution was simple enough and one that many take for granted and use every day. But, if you’ve never seen it done, this trick may never have occurred to you. I’ve seen cultured marble shops try to lay out parts on their wall panel mold using cardboard, paper, etc., with some pretty disastrous results.
I went through my files of photos and found a couple of reasonably clear photos of a template. I e-mailed that to him with directions on how I make a simple template and how to use it, and he found making that unilav countertop was a ‘piece of cake’.
To make the template, go to your local Home Depot kind of store and buy some ‘door skin’. It is a 1/8" thick veneer type of material that comes in sheets about 4' X 8'. Cut them into 3" or 4" wide strips on a table saw.
You will need to make a template on the job site where the actual part will be installed. I use a template most often when I need to pour an irregular shaped piece of cultured marble on the Wall Panel Mold and occasionally on the All Purpose Mold. The most common uses are probably going to be to produce irregular shaped bathroom vanity tops, bathtub decks, or pieces around a shower pan, but once you realize how much time you can save and how much more accurate you can produce your parts, you will start using them all the time.
For example, let’s say you need to make a fairly simple ‘L’ shaped corner unilav countertop like the picture here that I took at Angel Marble. When the cabinets are in place, lay a strip of your template material horizontally along the back, left wall, making sure it is fitting into the corner. Take another strip of your template material and lay it on the cabinet along the right hand wall. Where those two template pieces overlapped in the corner, staple them together.
I like to use a T-50 Arrow staple gun with 3/8" long T-50 Arrow Staples. The 3/8" long staples are perfect because the total thickness of the two overlapped veneer pieces will total of 2/8", and the extra 1/8" is long enough to enter into the cabinet to hold your template in place. And, only going into the cabinet 1/8" is not so deep and you can’t easily lift your template off the cabinet when you’re finished.
Follow the same steps around the cabinet. Make sure you make your templates to allow for the over-hang you will want on your finished edges. Add a few cross pieces to stabilize your template. Nothing is worse than getting your template back to the factory in two or more pieces. When you’ve finished making your template, make some notes on the template to show which sides are finished edges and which will fit against the wall. Whether you’ll be using floating bowls to make a unilav or making a hole to accommodate an undermount bowl or dropin bowl, make a mark on the template where the bowls will be located.
When you get it back to the shop, place your template ‘upside down’ on your mold, staple points facing ‘up’. You can use some double sided tape to hold it in place, and using double sided tape again, tape your divider bars on the mold, against the template.
Another great use for a template is when you’re installing a shower surround. I like the idea of sellingthe inside corner trim molding for shower surrounds for two reasons. You make money selling the trim,plus, it makes installations much easier and faster. But for the time being, let’s say the customer doesn’t want the inside corner trim.
I always say ‘there is no such thing as a square wall’, (but don’t ask a framer) so the marble wall panel will have to be cut to fit the un-square wall. (This is why you’ll always make the wall panel an inch oversize, and expect to cut it to fit.) Since in this case your customer doesn’t want to use an inside corner trim mold, you’ll want no more than 1/8" gap in the corners, and the template is a perfect way to achieve that.
Let’s say you’re installing wall panels for a simple bathtub shower surround. Since the back wall should go on first, let’s do that wall. Take one piece of template and place it vertically in the corner, flat against the back wall. Put a staple in it to hold it to the wall. Place another piece of template across the bottom, resting it on the top of the bathtub. Where these two templates overlap, put in 4 or 5 staples to staple them together. Do the same on all four sides, and you’ll end up with a square template frame. Now, do the same thing to the other two ends of the bathtub where the wall paneling will be installed. When you are making the templates make sure you use a leveling tool to assure they are perfectly horizontal on the top, and make sure the end panels they are going to be exactly the same height as the back panel as well. Also, use the leveling tool to make sure the finished edges of the end wall panels are vertical. Again, put a couple extra pieces of template material across the middle of your rectangle shaped template to give them more strength and assure they won’t come apart.
Hopefully, you’ll be installing a recessed soap dish or soap/shampoo combo in the shower surround too.
You can use your templates to locate where you will cut the hole in the wall panel as well. First, make the cutout in the wall where the soap dish or soap/shampoo combo will go. Then, staple one piece of template horizontally across your template frame at the top edge of this cutout. Staple another one at the bottom of this cutout. Now, staple a template strip vertically on each side of the soap dish cutout, to the two horizontal pieces you just installed prior. You should now have the exact location where your soap dish or soap/shampoo combo will go. Make sure you identify which side of your shower surround requires the finished edge and which side will go in the corner. Obviously you will be cutting on the side that will fit into the corner and not your finished edge. (Ouch!)
Lay your wall panel on a saw horse, unfinished side ‘up’. Lay your template on top the panel making sure your staples are point ‘up’. Align your template on the edge of your two finished edges. Take a pencil and draw a line on the other two edges. These two sides are where you will cut your cultured marble wall panel to fit Mr. Framer’s un-square wall. Follow the same steps whether you’re installing a shower surround over a bathtub or on a shower pan.
When it comes to tools, I’m picky. The best saw you can buy (my opinion) to cut cultured marble or onyx or granite, is the Skil Brand Model HD77, which is a 7” Worm Drive Circular Saw like the one you see in the picture. Using a carborundum blade like the one you see on the Skil saw, cut both ends off that you marked with your pencil. A really good installer can cut the panel perfectly along the pencil line and slap the panel on the wall. I don’t pretend to be a installer, so I’d make my cut about 1/16th from the line, then take a sander with a 36 grit disc, and sand up to the pencil line. I’d rather take the extra time and sand off that 1/16th of an inch all the way up the panel than to try to make a perfect cut with the circular saw and cut in past that line. That would be a bummer.
Anyway, I hope you got the gist of it. I thought I was going to do a short couple of paragraphs here, but that didn’t happen.
If anybody has any other template ideas, let me know. This is the best and most simple way to make a template that I have found.
I’ve changed my tune a little bit about using cultured marble for flooring. I used to discourage it, but after seeing some cultured marble flooring installations by some customers who purchased the large 5' X 10' textured flooring molds, I see there is a place for cultured marble, onyx, or granite flooring after all. One of the reasons I was never enthused about cultured marble flooring is because cultured marble isn’t as hard as ceramic tile or natural marble. But, if a textured finish (non-slip) cultured marble floor is installed in a low traffic area like a bathroom and not in an foyer where sand and dirt is tracked in from outside, it holds up quite well and compliments the other cultured marble products in the bathroom.
One of your big selling points as a cultured marble manufacturer is being able to provide your customers with ’seamless’ products. Your cultured marble vanity tops, with the built-in bowl and back splash have no seams, therefore there is no place for dirt to hide. Your cultured marble shower surround wall panels are an easy sell for the very same reason since there are no grout lines that stain and breed mold and mildew.
If I am promoting my products as ’seamless’ and I intend to sell flooring, I also want to introduce my customers to ’seamless’ flooring as well. I can make large seamless slate finished textured flooring up to 5 foot by 10 foot using the large 5' X 10' textured flooring mold. Not only is it easy to keep clean, it matches the other cultured marble items I’ve installed in that same bathroom such as the bathtub, shower pan, shower wall panels, vanity top, and other accessories.
All of your molds will have a radius. The radius is needed to allow you to de-mold your products more easily when they are cured. The 12" X 12" Textured Floor Tile mold is no exception. When you remove the 12? floor tiles from the mold, each piece will have this radius around the edges. Therefore, when you place the floor tiles side-by-side, your joint line will be about 1/4 inch wide which is unacceptable for any tile installation. So, not only do you have a room full of ’seams’, you have wide and gaping seams in your installation making it quite busy and unattractive.
So, if you plan on making bathroom flooring in your cultured marble factory, make it seamless for a nice clean installation rather than producing 12" X 12" floor tiles.