I joined the crew from the ARTCO studio and we traveled to Verona, Italy to attend Marmo + Mac, the world’s largest trade show for stone. This international event is a showcase for anything to do with the quarrying, processing and distribution of stone. Manufacturers of machinery, stone quarries and dealers, products and design all jostle for your attention. This show had been hosted in Carrara for years, but was moved to Verona three years ago.
The reason for our journey was because ARTCO studio owner, Nicolas Bertoux is partnering with a featured machinery company to design a CNC machine specifically for his studio and Nicolas exhibited one of his virtual designed sculptures in the main hall.
I was interested in seeing if there was anything new and exciting in the way of sculpting tools, but that section was tiny and there wasn’t anything earth shattering on display. I was also interested in seeing what was new in the way of CNC (computer numeric controlled) robot carving machines. I was impressed with the variety and scale of what I saw. I am not in a position to purchase any of these wonderful tools, but it was educational to learn that they exist. This knowledge is helpful to inspire new design and methodology of carving.
After viewing the design hall, we moved through a few of the equipment exhibition halls. It became apparent very quickly that there are dozens of manufacturers making the same stuff – huge quarry chain saws, milling machines, circular saws of every description, stone moving machines, laser guided water jet cutters, etc. The entire fair was simply too big to take in with the few hours we had, but as I stated, the displays became monotonous for me. But here is a taste of what I did observe:
The design hall was called the Italian Stone Theatre and this year’s show theme was Water & Stone. How’s this (below) for a wine bar made of dozens of white marble blocks?:
There was a lake in the middle of the hall with a bridge down the centre and several design studio exhibits around the perimeter. Below left is a CNC carved marble “island” that appears to be floating, and a marble dining table base, below, right.
Nicolas Bertoux (below left) with his sculpture, “Houle” in bardiglio marble. Sylvestre Gauvit with his white marble sculpture, “Andante Mon Non Troppo”. Both of these were designed in virtual space and a CNC robot carved them:
There were several varieties of bathroom suites. Below left is a double sink designed to minimize waste. A wire saw cut successive “donut holes” from a single slab of marble and the resulting rings were stacked in reverse to form the hollow sink. Center is a wall of marble emulating curtains and right is a tub cut from a single block of marble (not an example of minimized waste material!).
Below are examples of CNC robot carved marble pieces. Left is a stack of marble tiles and an imaginary gust of wind is blowing the top tiles away and they appear so be fluttering and twisting in the breeze. Centre is a result of a robot saw making multiple cuts to form mountain peaks. A wire saw has cut the eight foot high multiple curve marble columns on the right.
I was impressed with a robot arm wire saw (below left) that can make compound curves. Below right is an example of the many CNC robot designs now on the market. This one can handle a block of stone 10 feet cubed. That would be a ridiculously huge stone, but the machine could fit it.
I have learned that for the time being, owning a CNC robot is not cost effective for me. Even if I wanted a second hand robot, the maintenance would be an issue as well as the complex technical aspect of such a machine. I would have to hire a tech person along with a machine to help marry the virtual files I create with and the computer code that drives the robot.
Its best that I continue to outsource a CNC service for now. But it was a very interesting visit and I’m glad I went. While Nicolas stayed at a hotel for the entire four day show, the rest of us drove back to Pietrasanta that afternoon.