Technology is making the surfacing industry more sustainable

The elegance of natural stones can be matched only by very few materials. It is a highly attractive surfacing solution due to its Biophilic appeal. However, it will have its disadvantages for the environmentally and budget-minded.

The most common method for extracting stones from the mammoth rock is by wire-cutting and other identical specialized tools, such as the extracting of marble from the quarry by surface mining.

With the restructuring of the Silestone brand, Cosentino recently declared a significant worldwide success. A modern Silestone named "HybriQ+" technology, the presence of quartz is greatly reduced and substituted by a combination of several minerals and reusable raw materials, including recycled glass.)

Studies have highlighted questions about their production process as quarries and processing operations require large quantities of energy and have a major effect on the environment. In addition, conducting environmental assessments on a manufacturing process such as marble calls for many environmental considerations to be addressed, including:

• Production of dust & waste

• Vibration

• Consumption of energy

• Noise

Perhaps nobody understands better the difficulties (and opportunities) than the family-owned stone manufacturing enterprise Cosentino, which is focused on the acquisition, processing and commercialization of quartz from Sierra de Los Filabres, Almería in Spain. Cosentino invested heavily in innovation and research in 1980, according to Gemma Hernandez, the CIO, who led to the company applying the very most up-to-date technology for the manufacture of creative new, industrialized materials that is not resource-dependent.

Progress in production

"With the development of new technologies and manufacturing processes to develop engineering surfaces, at the end of the 1980s the biggest change took place," says Hernandez. "These new materials are in fact stone pieces bonded together with resins as well as other components and are referred to as stones engineered," she says. The main purpose of these technologies and factories was to produce what once was commonly referred to as an agglomerate."

Cosentino led this R&D process and carried out an ambitious project leading to the creation of a groundbreaking manufacturing plant, wherein Silestone processing was started in 1990. This quartz surface was highly adaptable to use in industrial, public and private areas and provided high-quality applications and options for design of the 21st century. The kitchen surfacing sector has been the key market for the product of Silestone in subsequent years.

"We have established ourselves as a market leader in our businesses to build an international growth strategy by investing in the latest advanced technologies and putting performance first," says Hernandez. " Cosentino has continuously grown during these last decade alongside an efficient marketing strategy established across all markets, notably in North American markets and developed new products like the ultra-compact Dekton surfacing material and exclusive Sensa granite stain-protection.

In 2013, the company built Dekton, its ultra-compact surface material which is generated using the exclusive TSP (Sintered Particles Technology) technology from Cosentino. For thousands of year-round natural stone production, the manufacturing process uses an accelerated version of the high-pressures and temperature processes.

Material and Technological Evolution

Hernandez notes there is still a growth of the entire surface industry. Manufacturers are continuously searching for improved results and new textures, finishes and a variety of styles.

"Stronger, long-lasting and attractive decorative materials are thus present today for designers and architects with several different designs and application options," says Hernandez.

"What makes each of our brands a good option for outdoor and indoor projects is their distinct advantages and strengths," she suggests. "There is high resistance against impact, stain, resistant to scratch on Silestone surfaces and a low rate of liquid absorption, making them perfect for interior kitchens and bath projects."

In 2013, the brand launched its very compact surfacing material, Dekton, that is produced with the exclusive TSP of Cosentino (Technology of Sintered Particles). This production process employs an accelerated model of natural stone production processes using heat and high pressure over a decade. It does have low porosity, thus, nearly non-existent absorption of water and the highest resistance to tins. Dekton is also very resistant to abrasion and scratches. „Because they can use the same stuff for the exterior skin of buildings and the interiors, giving them total consistency, this product becomes increasingly common amongst architects and designers," Hernández says. "

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