The Best and Brightest at Solid Surface Expo

Nearly 3,300 solid surface industry professionals gathered in March at the Las Vegas Convention Center for the 8th Annual Solid Surface International Expo. Many of the attendees rode from their hotels to the convention center on the convenient new Las Vegas Monorail, which carried a record-breaking one million passengers in March. The monorail makes traveling up and down “The Strip” a breeze. Try it the next time you’re in Vegas.

When I’m at the Solid Surface Expo each year, I’m always on the lookout for new products that may be useful to the average solid surface fabricator. I’ll be the first to admit that my knowledge of engineered stone is not as extensive as what I know about solid surface materials, but I can tell you that the number of exhibits highlighting engineered stone products is on the increase. The show displays everything needed for that market segment. However, based on experience, I feel better prepared to evaluate the products intended for solid surface fabricators, so those will be my focus here.

What’s New

I’m always interested in anything new that Kevin Andreas of Andreas Custom Design has developed. As a repair specialist, I use his solid surface repair templates almost every day, and recommend his template system to any repair technician. This year, Kevin has perfected “The Dust Raider,” which is a special router base plate designed to pick up the vast majority of dust generated in edge routing. The dust collection fitting rotates 360 degrees, utilizing a Teflon-coated stainless steel spin ring carefully engineered to keep dust particles out of the mechanism so that it won’t jam. To manufacture the Dust Raider, Kevin has partnered with Monument Toolworks, the same company that manufactures the “Parallign Seam Leveling Clamp.” For information, call Andreas Custom Design at 845-469-5771.

Another of my favorite innovators is Tom Pinske of The Pinske Edge. I first met Tom in 1989 when we both appeared at a trade show sponsored by Kitchen & Bath Design News at the retired ocean liner HMS Queen Mary, docked in Long Beach, CA. I was preparing to do an introductory fabrication seminar, and had broken a router bit that I needed for my presentation. Tom graciously loaned me a spare.

Over the years, Tom has developed and perfected his comprehensive system of tools and equipment for fabricating solid surface materials. Whether it’s Power Grips, Power Stands, precision straight edges, decorative inlays or innovations in material handling, Tom Pinske leads the way. Now, Tom is taking his show on the road, traveling around the country in an RV in 2005 and 2006, conducting one-day training seminars from California to Massachusetts, and from Florida to Washington. I’ll be at his Sacramento presentation soon. Visit www.pinske-edge.com for details and dates.

Integrated Designs LLC has developed something unique – the solid surface “IntegraFlo-Faucet,” a beautiful faucet that flows seamlessly out of the countertop, eliminating that area where soil and dangerous bacteria occur. The faucet can be bevel mounted into any solid surface countertop. Visit www.integrateddesignsllc.com for information. “Templamat” is billed as “the bridge between lauan strips and electronic templating.”

Templamat is based on flexible plastic strips that can be fused to one another with a quick-acting adhesive. The strips are stiff enough to follow a wall profile accurately and maintain the template shape, but can be cut easily with scissors, or scribed to curves.

After only six to eight minutes, the adhesive has set up, and the entire template can be rolled up compactly for transportation back to your shop. After the job is complete, the template can be cut up and segments can be reused. An introductory Templamat Tool Kit, containing everything you need to get started, packed in a convenient nylon carrying bag, is also available. I’ve tried Templamat and found the material superior to my previous methods. Go to www.templamat.com for more information.

Seminar Success

The International Solid Surface Fabricators Association (ISSFA) began the Solid Surface Expo eight years ago, although the show is now owned and operated by Cygnus Expositions, a division of K&BDN’s parent company, Cygnus Business Media. ISSFA, which remains a sponsor of the show, is a leading force in solid surface fabrication training, and is the recognized trade association for the industry. I recommend that you join ISSFA now if you’re not already a member.

A recent ISSFA success is the association’s “Job Management & Installation Seminar,” which is all about hiring, training and keeping great installers. This seminar has been presented several times at ISSFA headquarters in Henderson, NV, just outside Las Vegas. Those who’ve attended are lavish with their praise. This year, the JMI seminar will be presented in Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Atlanta and San Francisco, in addition to Las Vegas.

The highlights of this acclaimed seminar are also available on videotape or DVD, along with all of the written materials in the JMI workbook. Contact ISSFA at www.issfa.org for information.

Since creativity and innovation remain strengths of our industry, I’m sure that Solid Surface International Expo 2006 will showcase many outstanding new products. Make your plans now to attend the show at the Las Vegas Convention Center next March 16–18.

Something new and exciting will be featured at next year’s show – the 2006 Cygnus Achievement in Design Contest. Designs must feature at least 40% solid surface materials, and can be entered in one of four categories: Freestyle/Art, Countertop, Furniture, and “Outside the Box.” All entries will be on display at next year’s show, and will be judged by a panel of industry experts. Go to www.solidsurfaceexpo.com for details about the show and contest.

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