A cultured marble or solid surface factory that doesn’t have a well designed manufacturing system or production line to move the molds through the manufacturing process will end up looking like a bumper car ring at an amusement park. It guarantees chaos and will waste time and energy that should go towards producing products. A factory laid out with the proper equipment will assure a smooth operating factory, decreasing your labor cost, increasing your production and will require less than half the manufacturing space. The increase in profits that you will realize will pay for the equipment many times over. A complete cultured marble manufacturing system will include a blender, vibrating tables, transfer cart, multi-level storage racks, conveyor lines, scissors lift, gel coat spray booth, etc. Below are descriptions of the various pieces of equipment and actual photos of equipment being used in a cultured marble factory. At the bottom of the page you will see clickable links to some various sizes of manufacturing systems.
Cultured Marble Manufacturing Equipment Layout
(Click thumbnails to see larger view)
The layout above shows the sequence a mold goes through during the manufacturing process. Below is an explanation of the manufacturing process and a brief description of the cultured marble equipment and manufacturing process. The equipment includes roller track / conveyor lines is designed to save space and move your molds through the proper sequence to maximize production. I have numbered the manufacturing steps 1 through 8 in the drawing as well as in the description. Every factory building and every individuals requirements are different, so use this only as a general guideline and keep in mind that your factory will be laid out and tailored to fit your needs and requirements.
1. Set up lines: As you can see, this factory layout has two Set Up Lines. We’ve installed a shelf line and workbench that gives you storage area and some work space for preparing and setting up the molds.
2. After the molds are set up and waxed, you will transfer the mold to the Spray Booth where the gel coat will be applied with the Gel Coat Spray System.
There are three types of gelcoat spray carts. Shown is Flat and a Tilt style Gel Coat Spray Cart but there is also one that rotates, which works great for gel coating bathtubs. The tilt cart allows the mold to be tilted upwards, making it easier to maintain a uniform gel coat application.
3. After the mold has been gel coated, the gel coat needs to cure for a time prior to pouring it. I know ‘for a time’ sounds very vague, but your gel coat curing time will vary depending on the brand of gel coat, the type of catalyst (hardener) and the temperature. Keep in mind that with all polyester resins, the colder the weather, the slower the cure and the warmer the temperature, the faster they will cure. So, if I am in Moscow in the winter, my gel time will be much slower than if I was in Funafuti, Tuvalu. In cold climates, I highly recommend a gel coat heat tunnel in this area. This can cut your gel coat curing time in half. Time is money. It’s not uncommon to have a gel coat cure time of 45 minutes to an hour in a cold climate. It is not cost efficient to heat your whole factory for a faster gelcoat cure time but it makes dollars and sense to warm your mold. The sooner your gel coat is cured, the sooner you can pour your marble on it. A small amount of heat applied to the gel coated mold can make a huge difference in your gel coat cure time and therefore, how many pounds-per-day you produce. The heat tunnel can be beneficial even if you don’t require heat. It keeps the freshly gel coated mold protected from any contaminates until it is cured. You will only need a fan to circulate some air when heat is not required.
4. Once your gel coat is cured, it will be moved to the vibrating table to be poured. The cultured marble, onyx, or granite matrix is mixed in a blender/mixer and poured on the mold while the vibrating table is turned on. (There are three sizes of blenders available; 150 pound, 250 pound, and the large 350 pound.) The vibrating table levels the matrix, and allows the air inside the matrix to rise to the surface.
5. Once the mold is filled, you mold will move to a Mold Storage Rack. A multi-level storage rack can be up to five levels high which obviously stores five times more molds than a factory, which doesn’t have a manufacturing system. As you expand your market you will also be expanding your mold inventory. Instead of a costly move into a larger manufacturing space, all you need to do is simply slip in another multi-level mold storage rack to accommodate new molds.
6. After the marble is sufficiently cured, the mold will be rolled to the de-mold line where the parts are removed for detailing and the mold is ready to run through the cycle again.
7. Every part you produce will have flashing around the edge that will need to be sanded off. A Dust Collector will keep the dust out of your factory creating a healthier environment and preventing contamination on your freshly gel coated molds.
Solid surface manufacturing equipment is also available so if you intend to manufacture solid surface and want additional information, visit http://www.sunriseinternationalcompany.com. Much of the equipment needed in a solid surface factory is the same as in a cultured marble factory so if you intend on producing both, let us know and we’ll do a layout to utilize the equipment without duplication.