Expert staff and advanced equipment enable MLP & C s.r.l. to cover all the aspects of the slab production process; and accordingly to provide a comprehensive range of sub contract processing services including block dressing and cutting, slab mesh backing, restoration and follow-up honing of severely cracked slabs, surface resin coating and “fine-honing” or “mirror polishing” surface finishes.
At the company’s Castelnuovo Magra-based factory, a few kilometres away from Carrara, no block will be ever found “too problematic” and returned to a customer because of extensive fracturing. Indeed, all defective blocks are thoroughly examined to see type and nature of their faults, and then subject to a special reinforcing treatment which eliminates the risk of gang saws smashing the blocks due to the great pressure of the diamond blades.
It is noteworthy to mention that MLP was one of the first companies in the world to have a Resin Line: an S.E.I.’s 1st generation model installed at the beginning of the ‘90s. This plant has been continually running until a few months ago, when a 6th generation “Res Combi Max” Resin Line took its place.
The new Resin Line is equipped with an automatic loading and unloading workstation consisting of two “VK ROB” robots and as many “RP” rotating platforms. The robots are capable of “book matching” the raw slabs and turning over the mesh backed ones (to have their surface resin coated without breaks). Furthermore, they are programmed to allow workers sealing the cracks which are so deep to pass through the entire thickness of the slabs before a mesh backing is carried out, and to hand grind the back of the processed material. The remarkably high carrying capacity of the rotating platforms (120 slabs) prevents a slow down through insufficient slabs in the loading area and avoid congestions in the unloading area.
The loading robot puts the slabs onto sturdy “conveyor trays” with close-mesh tops, which are an ideal means of transport for broken, tiny and irregularly shaped slabs; that is one of the reasons why MLP can repair and strengthen onyx, breccia and “coloured” marble slabs on an industrial scale.
The slabs are left in the drying oven for no less than 100 minutes and exposed to an intense flow or warm air. As a result, the level of residual humidity of the stone is so low that it cannot affect at all the cure of the resin. Indeed, success largely depends on proper resin polymerization. Epoxy resins should always harden according to the time and temperature specified by resin makers and used in accordance with their intended purpose. The most common mistakes are trying to accelerate cure increasing the amount of hardener or exposing the slabs to extreme heat. Generally, when it comes to the restoration and surface enhancement of valuable stone, the most appropriate chemical products are low viscosity and slow to ultra-slow curing epoxy resins, and accordingly the polymerization oven of MLP’s Resin Line is roomy enough to ensure pretty long storage times ranging from 160 to 240 minutes.