The International Solid Surface Fabricators Association (ISSFA) has outdone itself with another fabulously successful trade show, Solid Surface 2000. The show was held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on February 10 - 12. The facility was top notch, and the seminars were outstanding. Both the fabrication shop tour and the hands-on workshops at ISSFA headquarters in nearby Henderson, NV, were most worthwhile, with an efficient system of shuttle busses providing hassle-free transportation.'
I also attended a workshop on decorative resin inlays at the ISSFA training facility now under development. This training center promises to become a major educational asset to our industry in the future.
In past years, I remember attending trade shows like the Inter-national Woodworking Fair (IWF) and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (K/BIS), searching through large numbers of booths for a few that displayed products of interest to countertop fabricators. Solid Surface 2000 was a refreshing and entirely different experience for me an opportunity to see the products of hundreds of companies dedicated to serving the needs of solid surface fabricators. Let me tell you about a few of the products that caught my attention.'
Perhaps the most unusual new tool is called the SMF-599 Sander & Microfinisher, developed by the Australian firm Surcare, whose Web site is www.surcare.com . This large, hand-operated machine is something like a giant random orbit sander, which uses four 6" sanding discs mounted on a large base plate. Intended for production shop use, this robust machine greatly speeds finish sanding operations. The Pinske Edge is the company's exclusive U.S. distributor. Call 1-800-T-PINSKE or visit its Web site at www.pinske-edge.com' for details.
Another item from The Pinske Edge is a Vertical Seaming Table, which incorporates air cylinders and vacuum cups to allow rapid seaming of large, "L" shaped countertops and island countertops in the minimum possible floor space.
I had the opportunity to see a piece of equipment at the show that I had only read about previously the Norford Polytherm Thermo-forming System. This machine uses heated aluminum platens to rapidly soften a sheet of solid surface material, and a vacuum blanket system to bend it to an accurate profile. Developed in Australia, the Polytherm is now available in the Model 3000-5, which can form both standard thicknesses of solid surface materials, as well as thinner solid surface veneers. The U.S. office can be reached at 1-973-884-4492, or visit the Web site at www.norford.com.au.'
For years, I've written about the advantages of the v-grooving technique for improving fabricator productivity. I can't think of any other investment that would be more worthwhile for medium-sized shops intending to improve productivity through automation. This technology speeds many of the most time-consuming fabrication operations, specifically edge gluing, trimming and finishing, and saves on materials, as well.'
Therefore, I was delighted to learn from Ted Benyovits of Auto V-Grooving, Inc. that the price of entry level V-grooving equipment has dropped significantly to the $50,000 price range for its Model LG-1-SS. This Canadian company has shown its commitment to the solid surface industry by serving as a sponsor of Solid Surface 2000 and a very active associate member of ISSFA. For details, contact the firm at 1-800-387-5819, or visit its Web site at www.vgrooving.com.'
Kevin Andreas, who specializes in repairing solid surface
materials as I do, has developed a line of precise templates and
matching template plugs that greatly speeds the process of making
accurate, high quality repairs. When I saw Kevin demonstrate his
technique, I was very impressed. Even without adhesive, his patches
were almost invisible. For more information, contact Andreas Custom
Design at 1-914-692-2355.
A new product from EMS Inc. is called Enhance Counter Top Cleaner. The company claims that it deep cleans and protects against rings and stains. I used it on a recent installation and was very pleased with the results. I've tried many such products over the years, and this one seems to be the best. It comes in different formulations for matte and gloss finishes, and is approved by the major manufacturers of solid surface materials. Call the firm at 1-800-643-8818 for more information, or visit the Web site at www.easternmarble.com.
Two computer software products on display showed great promise. Tractivity is a powerful job-costing system. I remember writing a column about job costing about seven years ago. This system automates steps that were usually done manually and tediously, or not at all, in the past. The result is management information that is bound to make users more competitive in the marketplace. For information, call 1-888-540-7171 or visit their Web site at www.tractivity.com . Solid Surface Manager by Data Access Inc. takes care of business management functions such as scheduling, project management and inventory control. A full range of analysis reports can be produced as needed. For more information, call 1-704-599-4801 or visit the Web site at www.dataaccessinc.com/ssm . Data Access, Inc. is now working to modify its software so that it will interface with Tractivity.
Specialtytools.com is a distributor of many of the supplies and tools that solid surface fabricators use on a daily basis. Founded by John Michaels, the company was formerly known as JCM Industries, Inc. Among the many brands it sells are 3M, The Pinske Edge, Dynabrade, Align-Rite, Velepec and Fein, all at discounted prices. Now, it offers deeper discounts to ISSFA members through a program called the ISSFA Advantage. Visit the Web site or call 1-800-669-5519 for a catalog and complete details.
Since I've mentioned the Web sites of all of these suppliers, let me also invite you to visit my Web site, www.heaphy.com . There, you'll find hundreds of links to fabricators, manufacturers and suppliers, along with copies of dozens of my columns. My goal is to make it a useful information resource for everyone involved with the solid surface industry. I would appreciate your suggestions about the Web site.
If you're a solid surface fabricator, and haven't yet joined ISSFA, you should do so immediately. Call 1-702-567-8150 or visit its Web site at www.issfa.net' for complete information.