Michelangelo and the potential of a stone

Giovanni Forti Giovanni Forti Industry Segment Manager

“The marble not yet carved can hold the form of every thought the great artist has,” said Michelangelo. How to extract both the architectural and artistic worth of a stone has occupied both kings and quarry workers for thousands of years. The Great Pyramids were constructed with enormous limestone and granite blocks. Each weighing several tons, the ancient Egyptians cut these slabs of mountain by hand. Later, the Greeks, hoping to build a lasting symbol of their power, sought the quarries of Mount Pentelicus from which they erected the marble columns which still uphold the Parthenon today. Across the continent, the ivory-white mausoleum of the Taj Mahal, completed in 1643, was fashioned by 20,000 craftsman and artisans using marble and a glittering mix of semi-precious and rare stones. Tumbling down through history, there has been no shortage of masterpieces inspired by rock.

The chef d’oeuvres of Habasit, although admittedly more modest than the Great Pyramids or the Taj Mahal, have also been created with the weight and force of stone in mind. The task of turning a boulder into a building block is the challenge of the marble and stone industry. Although this process was once the strenuous work of slaves and criminals in ancient Rome, the job has now fallen to conveyor belts.

That is why Habasit has created the most resilient and robust materials in the industry. As a leader in providing quality, innovative products and a wide range of special fabrications, it is a company fully equipped to meet the demands of the quarry. From sizing to polishing and finishing Habasit has the belt with the strength to do the job.

A process not to be taken for granite

The process begins with a giant block of stone being cut into slabs with a diamond wire. These slices of rock placed upon the surface of the conveyor belt can reach up two and a half meters long. The calibration phase removes excess material in-order-to achieve a custom thickness. Whether creating tiles or marble countertops, the material will then be polished and further cut down to size. Finally, the pieces are shipped to end users for additional processing or assembly, depending on the material and the intended application.

Habasit has several belts with specific features suited for each stage of stone processing. For other lighter applications, belts often only have one or two plies with a total thickness of just a couple millimeters or less, but a stronger carcass is required in the marble and stone industry. The plies of the belt are often doubled and the carcass can reach up to a thickness of 8 millimeters. Very specific fabrication is necessary for the force, tension and stress created by conveying massive pieces of rock.

Belts such as the NAY-50EHCV are utilized for the calibration and polishing of large slabs. Huge quantities of water are used in-order-to reduce the volume of product dust generated in the process, cool down the slab surface and wash away any excess debris. The NAY-50EHCV provides a strong grip while allowing the water to flow through. With high abrasion and scratch resistance, it has a durable carcass equipped for the heavy-duty demands of the industry.

NAY-50EHCV

NAS-50EHAV-S2

PNB-12EVTO

The NAS-40EHAV-S2 and NAS-50EHAV-S2 belts are ideal for polishing granite slabs. With a three to four ply thickness and a specific double-row saw-tooth embossed surface, they create reliable product positioning and adhesion. This is enhanced by the high and homogenous lateral stiffness with a surface hardness of 50 Shore A.

Finally, the NAX-50EHDV belt is used for calibration and polishing of gres and terrazzo, marble and granite tiles with a thick and high abrasion resistant cover. It also has a high and even modulus of elasticity to prevent elongation.

These are just a few of the belts available, but there are many other examples with additional features, such as the PNB-12EVTO. Originally developed for the tobacco industry, Habasit has over the years gained a lot of experience with this belt’s unique characteristics such as high release properties and superior resistance against chemicals. Another example is the wear resistant A-4LT used for block cutting. The stronger the belt, the longer the lifetime – and strength is everything when it comes to working with stone.

Mining the quarry of experience

The marble business is never far from where the raw material can be found, so it should be no surprise that Habasit’s competence center is based in the heart of Italy, a country with a rich supply of quarries, along with other places like North Africa, Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, Turkey and India. Habasit Italiana has become a reference point for all Habasit affiliated companies involved in marble, and a center for knowledge sharing, technical support, service capabilities and fabrication expertise. With many years of experience, our engineers are familiar with the needs of the global industry and are equipped with the solutions to meet them, because like Michelangelo, Habasit believes in the potential of an unformed rock. (ST)

For more information please download our Marble, Granite and Ceramics Industry brochure (no. 2174): www.habasit.com/en/download.htm

Michelangelo and the potential of a stone

Michelangelo and the potential of a stone

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