Getting Small(er) at Stone+tec ‘11


Technology drew the biggest crowds at the biennial central European trade show -- but people didn't necessarily flock to the largest machines.

NUREMBERG, Germany – Looking for a theme at this year’s Stone+tec? When it comes to stone-fabrication equipment, there’s one trend that’s easy to spot: Small is beautiful.

While some manufacturers came to the Nurnberg Messe exhibit halls with big, beefy equipment (which we’ll get to later on), several companies went lean-and-mean with downsized machines for fabricators looking for something easier to fit in the shop – and in the budget.

Some of these machines are bound to reach the North American market, although current economics dictate that introducing a new product line across the Atlantic may be later rather than sooner. However, a few deserve mention now.

ST_150_GMMClick photo to enlargeGmm S.p.A. of Gravellona Toce, Italy, offered the Tower, a vertical flat-edge polishing machine with a relatively small footprint – one model, the 62 Standard, is slightly more than 9’ in length and 4.5’ wide. (Other models are a bit longer at 11 ¼’ long.) The compact size packs some grinding power, though, with nine to 11 spindles – depending on the model – taking on stone from 1cm-6cm and a minimum width of approximately 2”.

ST_150_KreaClick photo to enlarge• While the Krea first made its appearance in March at a factory presentation for Gualdicciola, San Marino-based Denver s.a., Stone+tec marked the trade-show debut for the 3-axes mini-CNC. With a nominal working area of 82” X 43”, it’s not going to take on full-slab production, but it’s large enough to handle plenty of countertop, vanity and fixture jobs (including drainboards, with a special 3° pitch for grooving). The 12 HP spindle can operate up to 10,000 rpm, and can make good depth work with an 11.8” X-axis stroke.

ST_150_CobalmClick photo to enlarge• The sharp-eyed at Coverings 2011 in Las Vegas spotted the small-CNC movement with the Co.b.a.l.m. srl IDEA work centers offered by Intermac America. Co.b.a.l.m. also joined the mini-CNC movement with the IDEA SMART Top – a machine in full working order, but without product details, although it’s in the sub-80” working length class.