During the first half of 2019, stone industry professionals from Intermac and Diamut met with scores of manufacturers and fabricators at two trade shows, one Artisan event and four Natural Stone Institute events. Every interaction gave them time to share trend information and consult with customers to find ways to capitalize on changing markets to increase their efficiency and profitability.
As industry experts already knew, quartz started taking a lot of market share 5 or 6 years ago. The trend continues to grow. “That’s a very good thing for the big manufacturers,” said Peter Hauser, Diamut North America Sales Manager. “They love the popularity of quartz because it’s a material that reacts so consistently and works so well with CNC tooling.” Nationally, Diamut has focused on teaching customers to set their tools properly and has proved tools are lasting longer and can run at higher feed rates on quartz. As Hauser explained, “We’ve been able to put white quartz on an Intermac CNC machine and pre-form a T33R6 profile utilizing a Power Edge/Super Z, four diamonds, and one polish to achieve the finished edge at a rate of 24 inches per minute. That is absolutely unheard of until now.”
Although the biggest trend in the market is quartz, especially in urban areas, small rural areas are still all about high-end granite/natural stone. In addition to the continuing popularity of engineered stone, Intermac and Diamut are also seeing more and more ultra-compact and weatherproof large- format ceramics/porcelain. “A lot of shops are very hesitant about ceramics because of its tendency to chip. In working with it, you have to take material handling to a whole new level,” Hauser said. “But it’s just a matter of time before ceramic and porcelain capture a major market share.”
“At Intermac, we are ready to respond with new technology to make processing these new material options faster, easier and more efficient for our customers,” said Michele Ragno, Vice President of Sales, Stone Division. To process new materials for ceramic/porcelain surfaces, Intermac offers its Primus Waterjet known for maximum flexibility, and the Genius RS-A cutting table, which makes it easier to dry-cut linear and shaped ceramic sheets in a simple, intuitive manner. “We got a lot of attention at the spring events for our great technology, which is resulting in sales right now,” Ragno said.
Customers can hone and polish materials on their Intermac CNCs as well. “Diamut offers a specific tooling line for in-line machines to polish the backsplash, concentrating on high quality, long life and fast throughput. Since the market is primarily choosing tile, the demand for using granite and quartz for backsplashes is dwindling,” Hauser said.
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