Sintered Materials and Fabrication
Many fabriactors use a variety of materials. In your fabrication shop, you probably use more than one material to create just the right design for your customer. Sintered stone is one of the relatively new materials. You may or may not have heard of this material or used it in your shop. For readers that have not used it, we will take a look at sintered materials. Along the way, we will consider how the characteristics of this unique material and how they affect your decision regarding your blade choices.
The Sintering Process
Sintered stone is a material that is engineered by means of a process known as sintering. Various materials result form the sintering process; which has existed for many years. Engineers form materials into objects using powdered substances. The process of sintering is a technical one and is not the focus of this article so we won’t delve into the specifics here. Rather, we will briefly explain the basic idea as it applies the subject of this article.
Engineers transform raw materials (usually raw materials in powder form) into a new slabs by means of heat, pressure, and other forces. The resulting material varies depending on the raw material used in the sintering process. Because of this, there are different classes of stone that are produced using the sintering method. Some of these materials include:
Some of the above materials are grouped in the sintered stone category while others form a new category of stone material. For example, DEKTON® classifies its surfaces as Ultra-compact surfaces. Even though this material is ultimately different, it shares characteristics with the other materials in the list above. Those properties are the ones we will look at now.
Properties of Sintered Stone & Porcelain
The properties of the various sintered materials are similar in some respects and they diverge in others. Let’s consider the similarities first. Sintering produces, as a general rule, materials that are smooth and non-porous. They are also vary hard and resist scratching and staining. This is because of the way the atoms in the raw material fuse together. Additionally, tremendous heat is present during the sintering process. So, the resulting materials are usually resistant to high temperatures.
There are differences though in the nature of sintered materials. Porcelain can be either glazed or unglazed. The glazed porcelain usually has the pattern applied only to the surface of the material. Sintered stones, on the other hand, are able to produce a slab (or sheet) that has the pattern running all the way through the material’s body. This means the coloring and texturing of the material is consistent all the way through the surface.
Cutting Sintered Materials
When it comes to cutting sintered materials – stone or otherwise – you must approach the task with the proper tools. Since sintered materials are so hard, specially designed blades usually perform the best. Blades that are designed for cutting porcelain and sintered stone are usually marked as being blades for cutting porcelain or sintered stone blades.
Besides using the proper blade to cut sintered materials, in some cases the way you cut the material is important too. For example, the DektonMastidek.com site on its “working with DEKTON®” page says:
To release the internal stress of the slab, be sure to trim at least 1.5cm (.6in) off each length of the slab. During the cut, reduce the feed rate to 30% while the cutting head is less than 200mm (7.87 inches) from either edge of the slab. While the cutting head is more than 200mm (7.87 inches) form either end of the sheet, the feed rate can be increased to 100%.
Selecting the Right Glue for Sintered Materials
Choosing the correct blades is not the only thing to keep in mind when you are working with sintered material surfaces. As mentioned above each type of sintered product has its own formula for producing its line of materials. The surfaces then are distinct in many aspects, including color. When selecting an adhesive to bond the material, you will need glues that color match the material you are using. Because of this, adhesive companies formulate products designed for specific brands. Let’s look at some sintered materials cartridge glues.
Gluing porcelain surfaces is growing in popularity because of the production of more large format surfaces. Because a number of companies are making porcelain surfaces for various applications, there are many brand colors to keep track of. Adhesive companies have tools to assist fabricators in matching porcelain glue to a particular brand’s color palette. One such tool can be found on CartridgeGlue.com in the Glaxs area under the color matching tools section.
Just like the porcelain material growth seen in the fabrication industry, other sintered materials are becoming more and more prevalent. In fact, the industry see entirely new material categories formed regularly. For example, Cosentino produces a material called DEKTON® using a specific sintering process. Ultra-Compact surface exists as a new category because it is unique.
Because the colors of the DEKTON® surfaces are unique, the glue must be formulated to match the surface. Mixing your own colored glue is possible, however there exists an approved glue for DEKTON®. Getting the correct color of glue for this surface type is easy. Simply ask for the adhesive that has the same name as the surface you are trying to match.
Lapitec is the first company in the world producing large size full body sintered stone slabs. Lapitec® surfaces have a distinct color palette like other sintered stone surfaces. Companies create glue for sintered materials to match this palette. Hence, like the other colors of materials in the industry of stone surfaces, Lapitec® glue can be obtained through the proper channels.
As the fabrication industry moves further into the future, many professionals fell that sintered materials will continue to grow in popularity. Regardless of whether you choose to go with porcelain, ultra-compact, or sintered stone surfaces, it helps to understand the differences and where you can get the proper tools and materials.