Plants and transfer assemblies tailored to concrete countertop fabrication and installation are now available from Brownstown, Pa.-based Pinnacle Cast
Plants and transfer assemblies tailored to concrete countertop fabrication and installation are now available from Brownstown, Pa.-based Pinnacle Cast Concrete. According to the manufacturer, the turnkey setup provides an alternative to concrete countertop production that typically has involved pouring on the same table used for setup, waiting days to strip, accepting cracks and warping, and lifting by hand, plus strenuous installation.
Affirms Pinnacle Cast Concrete General Manager Mark Celebuski, Any system is only as good as the effort put forth to design it. We have refined the designs through extensive daily use in our own operation. The plant layout reflects logical steps, he adds, taking into account each fabricator’s needs. It can be designed to cast one piece a week or 100 per day. Plant equipment and gear include buckets, scales, heating blankets, mix-design spreadsheets, vibrating stations, conveyors, flipping station, plus fabrication and delivery carts. Among various components the plant is able to produce are kitchen countertops and vanities with integral sinks, as well as fireplace surrounds and hearths.
Individual stations are set up for each step in the process, facilitating the operational sequence.
Plywood with tile board on top, melamine or steel can be used as forms. Pieces up to 10 _ 5 ft., weighing 1,000 lb. can be cast; however, most countertops and sinks fit on a 4 _ 8 ft. or smaller sheet.
- The vibrating table jumps up through the roller conveyer at the push of a button. Once molds are full and vibrated, the table retracts, and the mold is moved out of the way on the rollers.
- Casting is a one-person operation that requires minimal lifting.
- A 40-sq.-ft. kitchen piece can be cast in less than one hour using the equipment.
- The entire roller area is level, so pallets can be set anywhere on the rollers to cure.
- Molds are covered with poly and electric blankets designed to accelerate concrete curing. The blankets heat the concrete to about 115 degrees, well within acceptable curing limits.
- Products can be stripped in about 16 hours (dependent on mix design), freeing the line for the next day’s pour.
Patent-pending flipping/demolding station
- Flipping/demolding is a one-person operation designed to handle sections up to 1,000 lb. with no manual lifting.
- A special hinge design allows products up to 18 inches deep to be turned without binding. It also accommodates countertops with integral sinks.
- It can be used with an overhead crane or an engine hoist that has enough clearance.
- Pieces take about five minutes each to turn.
Countertops/sinks are loaded onto roller carts
- Pieces remain on the carts during polishing, staining, and sealing operations, eliminating unnecessary lifting and transporting.
- Carts feature a ridge design, keeping the pieces level during processing; if the floor is uneven, three of the four wheels will contact the floor.
- Capacity of each cart is 1,000 lb. Each caster has a grease fitting.
- Lifting of countertops during processing is never necessary; they are rolled to each area.
- Grinding and patching of bugholes are reduced to minutes rather than hours.
Countertops/sinks are loaded into delivery trailers
- A-frames roll out of the trailer on tracks. Countertops can be loaded with a crane or by hand.
- Loading with an overhead crane is a one-person operation.
- A-frames with countertops roll on tracks. Countertops are two feet off the ground and thus easily accessed for unloading. Workers can back to the edge of the garage, roll the A-frame into the garage, walk the countertops to the kitchen, and install.
Larger pieces are placed on multitask delivery carts, which are then loaded on trailers
- Carts are designed to deliver pieces up to 1,000 lb. with two people. (The carts were designed after watching five people set a 700-lb. granite island.)
- Cart design eliminates the need to ever lift the entire weight of a piece. The countertop is tilted into position and slid into place.
- Locking into horizontal position facilitates delivery of countertops with integral sinks or vanities.
- Cart can be driven up a 3-ft. rise on 8-ft. ramps. Pneumatic tires prevent damage to flooring.
Regarding output capacity, Pinnacle Cast Concrete officials note, a plant with adequate roller space should be able to accomplish an average kitchen a day with two men working full time. Operations would include striping and grinding the prior day’s product, forming and pouring a new order, and sealing cured pieces from a few days ago. While complexity, such as integral sinks and 3-D shapes, would affect production rate, mobility afforded by the plant means no time and effort are wasted lifting things by hand, company representatives contend.
A suitable mix design incorporates the same cement, large, and small aggregate that a local ready mixed producer would typically use. Additionally, Pinnacle uses high-reactivity metakaolin, a high-range water reducer, plus a viscosity modifier to produce flowable high performance concrete. As a result, following vibration, off-the-mold finish is nearly blemish free, the company reports. Prebagged mixes can be used with the equipment; however, mixing one’s own concrete can produce a superior product at about one-fifth the cost of bagged mixes, the manufacturer asserts. Accordingly, mix-design consultation is provided as a free service when equipment is purchased.
The 10,000-psi concrete used by Pinnacle represents a somewhat arbitrary strength threshold, the company maintains. Yet, the science and additives necessary to create 10,000-psi concrete using locally available materials are now readily available. According to Pinnacle estimates, the cost is about $1.00/sq. ft., considerably less than bagged mixes, which amount to approximately $6.00/sq. ft. Tops can be striped and ground 14 hours after casting Û assuming accelerated curing methods were used Û and larger tops can be cast. Pinnacle, for example, routinely casts and delivers 1.5-in.-thick, 5- _ 9-ft. island tops with sink openings.
Benefits gained by investing in equipment to precast countertops rather than cast them in place, system developers claim, are significant. Contrary to the usual mode of concrete countertop production following a do a little, then wait principle, the Pinnacle plant offers efficiency by allowing simultaneous work on multiple kitchens, plus a vanity or two. Thus, fabricators can form one, grind and slurry another, apply final polish on another, first coat of sealer on yet another, and pour a vanity Û all in the same day. And, the controlled environment of the precasting operation yields consistent quality assurance for countertop and sink fabrication. Û www.concretecountertopplant.com