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The fabrication process is where the magic happens in creating your countertops. Your fabricator will take the drawing with the measurements and details that were taken at the residence and the slabs that were selected and produce the finished product for your space. The difference between a good job and a great job is dedicated time and attention to detail. Think of a fabrication shop as an assembly line and the steps involved are cutting the specific pieces from the slab and shaping and polishing the edges selected.
There are different types of equipment that can be used in cutting the slabs. A bridge saw can be used to cut the slabs to the proper shape for its application using diamond coated circular blades. Water is always used with this type cutting application in order to keep the blade cool during the cutting process and to minimize dust in the air. This of type saw is most commonly used for cutting straight pieces with no curves, radii or sink holes and is very quick to complete the job. Another option in the cutting process is the water jet. The water jet uses high pressure streams of water mixed with an abrasive material. The combination of the high pressure water stream mixed with the abrasive material allows the fabricator to cut through the slab while cutting curves, radii and sink holes. This cutting method uses digital CAD (Computer Aided Design) drawings and takes a little longer but accomplishes things the bridge saw cannot. Through modern technology, there are now cutting machines on the market that have combined the bridge saw and water jet that can do all the different types of cutting on one machine which increases efficiency and productivity in the fabrication shop.
After the slabs are cut into the correct shaped pieces now the edges need to be shaped and polished. This can be accomplished on a straight line edge polishing machine or a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine. The edge polishing machine grinds down and shapes the edge and then polishes it to a nice high gloss finish. This polishing machine has a Conveyor belt that moves the piece in a straight line direction and consists of rotating pads which are surfaced with abrasive diamonds from very rough in order to shape the edge to very fine in order to get a high gloss finish. This type machine can only polish straight pieces that have no curves. If any of the pieces have curves or radii then a CNC machine is the solution. The CNC machine can shape and polish the edging of a straight piece or curved piece and also cut and polish undermount sink holes that a straight line polisher cannot. The CNC machine can help cut down on production times dramatically and makes the shaping and polishing of intricate custom edges more efficient and precise.
Once all the pieces are cut and all the edges are shaped and polished, the pieces will then go to the Quality Control area for visual inspections and to complete any detail that the machines did not complete. This department will inspect each piece for quality, hand polish where needed and put all the pieces together to make sure all pieces mate up correctly and check for any other issues. The QC area is one of the most important steps in the fabrication process. I hope this gives you a little insight on what it takes to fabricate a countertop. I wish everyone a Happy Holiday and be safe!