For over 10 years Solid Surface Designs has been at the forefront of integrated digital fabrication. Employing laser templating, water jet cutting and CNC finishing have transformed how granite and quartz countertops are custom made and installed.
Prior to the introduction of digital lasers, templates were assemble using a variety of materials, cardboard, fan fold insulation panels or strips of ¼” plywood glued together to capture the shape of a cabinet layout. The templates were then physically laid on slab material and their outlines traced on to the surface of the stone prior to cutting.
With the advent of laser templating computers using a laser measuring tool are able to create two-dimensional drawings that are saved as dxf (digital exchange format) files. These files are then downloaded in the CADCAM software programs used to program the tool paths and type of tooling used to cut and polish stone slabs into finished countertops.
Laser templates are extremely accurate. However, during the fabrication process stone slabs move through up to 20 different machining operations during which varying amounts of material are removed as the countertops are cut and polished to their final dimension.
Unlike wood or acrylic solid surface materials which are homogeneous and easily machined, natural and engineered stone is comprised of many different minerals with varying degrees hardness. Therefore in the cutting and polishing process stone tops are fabricated with certain tolerances built in. In addition, we do not fabricate the countertops to fit tight to wall surfaces. Allowances are made to compensate for the seasonal expansion and contraction of the building components, cabinets, floors, and walls.
This is why we don’t consider our work in fabrication complete until after the countertops are installed. Our installers are trained to be field fabricators who are responsible for the final fit and finish of every countertop project. So if a field modification is needed it is not a reflection on accuracy or reliability of the laser template but a reality dictated by the nature of granite and engineered stone.