The kitchen countertop fabrication process
Marble and granite kitchen countertops are the finished products of a long stone fabrication process. The steps that are involved in kitchen countertop fabrication haven’t changed much since ancient Greek times, but a few advancements have been made in the fabrication and installation process. The types of machines used in the kitchen countertop fabrication process are the biggest difference. The kitchen countertop fabrication process starts at the quarry, where large blocks of stone are cut. Thin pieces of stone are cut, which is where slab countertops come from. The slabs are then shaped and polished. Kitchen countertop fabrication starts in a shop where saws perform several functions. A block saw cuts the massive stone blocks into slabs, and a bridge saw is then used to cut the marble or granite slabs into a shape for a countertop or sink. Water is sprayed onto the saw blade to cool it during the cutting process, and there are even saws with water jets combined with abrasive substances that completely cut edges and holes. These are the most advanced kitchen countertop fabrication machines. After the marble or granite slabs are cut, polishers grind down the rough surface to various finishes. Marble and granite can be polished all the way to a mirror finish, or they can be left a little bit rough for a more natural look. The stone polisher has rotating pads coated with an abrasive substance with various levels of grit for different polishes. Modern polishers can produce many different marble and granite finishes, including smooth soft looks, slick shiny mirror finishes, and decorative finishes like flamed, tumbled, or hammered. Craftsmen use routers to produce edge profiles on marble or granite slabs, or to cut designs into the pieces. These machines were either operated by hand or with limited automatic functions in the past, but computer motion control technology has allowed a much faster production time. Computer motion control, or CNC, uses digital technology to precisely control saws, polishers, and routers. This has cut production time down to a single afternoon for a kitchen countertop, even with a very complex edge. Today’s kitchen countertop begins its journey through the CNC fabrication process in the home, where a wooden or plastic template is cut from the existing countertop. The template is placed on a digitizing table in a kitchen countertop fabrication shop, where exact dimensions are exported to a computer assisted design program. Designers can modify the marble or granite countertop, specify the desired edge profile and select the location of holes for sinks, faucets and cook tops. The marble or granite slabs are then placed on the block or gang saw, which is directed by the computer as to how to cut the slab. Computerized arms then move the slab to the CNC machine, where a series of saws and routers cut the slab, make holes and shape the edges. The kitchen countertop is then moved to the polishing machine, where pads grind the surface of the marble or granite slabs to the desired finish. Edge polishing machines are then used to finish the edge profiles. After the process is complete, the marble and granite countertops are ready to be shipped and installed in someone’s home, where they should last for generations to come.