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R & P International

Process

 

What is Granite?

Granite is an intrusive igneous rock which is widely distributed throughout Earth's crust at a range of depths up to 31 mi (50 km). Granite's characteristic grainy structure and strength is the result of many individual crystalline structures which form tightly together as magma slowly cools within large, deeply buried rock bodies known as plutons. True granite contains 20-60% quartz as well as both plagioclase and alkali feldspars of which the former may not exceed general balance.

Other minerals such as hornblende and biotite may also occur in granite, accounting for its variety of appearances (Alden 2004). Commercially, the term 'granite' includes a range of other types of non-granite dimension stone including any feldspathic crystalline rocks or other igneous or metamorphic rocks which possess qualities similar to granite's grainy, interlocking texture. Many variations of granite appear on the commercial market with white, gray, pink, and red being the most common primary colors. Granite color also ranges to darker shades of colors like greens, browns, grays, and black.

 

Extraction and Block Selection

Extraction (more commonly referred to as quarrying) consists of removing blocks or pieces of stone from an identified and unearthed geologic deposit. Differences in the particular quarrying techniques used often stems from variations in the physical properties of the deposit itself—such as density, fracturing/bedding planes, and depth.

The first step in quarrying is to gain access to the granite deposit. This is achieved by removing the layer of earth, vegetation, and rock unsuitable for product with heavy equipment and transferring to onsite storage for potential use in later reclamation of the site. After the face of the granite is exposed, the stone is removed from the quarry in benches, usually 8 to 12 feet square extending 20 feet or more using a variety of techniques suitable to the geology and characteristics of the granite deposit.

Quarrying operations typically include the drilling of holes along the perimeter of the bench, followed by either cutting the stone out of the deposit using saws equipped with diamond wire, or by splitting the stone using hydraulic splitters or small explosive charges. Once the bench is cut or split loose from the deposit, heavy equipment is used to lift the granite bench and transfer it to an inspection area for quality and size specifications.

Every block that meets the size requirement is then thoroughly checked for quality specifications. We have the most experience personnel including the directors, visiting the quarry and inspecting blocks that will be further processed. The blocks are checked for cracks, fissures, color pattern and other variations that help in ensuring the best blocks are selected and further moved to processing. Only one out of every ten blocks are selected ensuring we only select the most premium blocks.

Block cutting

The first step of the process is a primary cutting or shaping of the material. This is typically accomplished for granite using a diamond wire-saw. When operating a circular or diamond wire saw, a continuous tream of water over the saw is required in order to dissipate heat generated by the process; sufficiently-elevated temperature can cause major machine and material damage.

 

Gang-saw

Once the block has been shaped from the wire-saw, matting is done to ensure that there are no cracks or breakage during the cutting process. The blades are set in the gang-saw machine according to the hardness of the rock and the thickness specification for cutting, and accounting for the loss of thickness in cutting and further processing. The granite block is loaded onto the tray and packed with cement and left to dry for a day to ensure, there is no movement while the cutting process.

The tray housing the granite block is then moved into the gang-saw machine. A mixture of water, lime, and grit; referred to as the slurry is used in the cutting process that helps in gutting the block as absorb any heat dissipating from the cutting process. The viscosity of the slurry is vehemently monitored and adjusted for every material and also during the cutting process.

Every 2-3 hours the machine and the block is observed and re-adjusted, if needed to ensure a steady and straight cut for the blocks. Once the slabs are cut, they are inspected for any defects and then are marked individually for inventory tracking and moved for further processing.

Cutter

Once the block has been shaped from the wire-saw, matting is done to ensure that there are no cracks or breakage during the cutting process. The blades are set in the gang-saw machine according to the hardness of the rock and the thickness specification for cutting, and accounting for the loss of thickness in cutting and further processing. The granite block is loaded onto the tray and packed with cement and left to dry for a day to ensure, there is no movement while the cutting process.

The tray housing the granite block is then moved into the gang-saw machine. A mixture of water, lime, and grit; referred to as the slurry is used in the cutting process that helps in gutting the block as absorb any heat dissipating from the cutting process. The viscosity of the slurry is vehemently monitored and adjusted for every material and also during the cutting process.

Every 2-3 hours the machine and the block is observed and re-adjusted, if needed to ensure a steady and straight cut for the blocks. Once the slabs are cut, they are inspected for any defects and then are marked individually for inventory tracking and moved for further processing.

 

Grinding, epoxy application and polishing

Grinding

Once the slabs are cut and marked, they are then sent for grinding. Grinding is a process to smoothen the surface of the granite, so they lose their grainy finish, as a result of the cutting process and achieve a smooth to touch finish.

Grinding is done in a grinding machine with multiples heads attached to diamond abrasives of different densities to achieve an even surface finish. Again water is used in this process to minimise heat created from friction.

 

Epoxy application

Epoxy resin is applied to fill all of the pits and micro-fissures that are occuring naturally and also to ensure the the stone is hardened further. This process makes sure that granite ages well over time and lasts longer while preserving its natural beauty. The proper combination of the color of the granite and the epoxy it is paired with will also contribute in bringing out and highlighting the natural color and pattern of the granite.

Before being treated, the surface of a granite slab has to be heated; to allow the surface of the material to allow the rock to absorb the resin more deeply. The material also needs to be completely clean and dry, so the resin can deeply penetrate in the smallest cracks of the surface. There are a wide range of epoxy chemicals which are paired with the right color and the application type is also critical to ensure the best finish.

The resin is then spread on the whole surface, and then reheated to ensure deeper penetration of the epoxy. After this the slab is left to cool and the epoxy further hardens the granite slab.

On many occasions, to find the right combination for a granite color and epoxy match, a test slab is used with application of a varieties of epoxy on different parts of the slab to visualize the best outcome for every epoxy and finalizing one for that block.

Polishing

This is the final step before the granite slabs are ready. This step is done to remove any excess resin on top of the granite surface as well as smoothen the surface finish.

The slabs are processed with special silicon carbide abrasives in a polishing machine and goes through a process of differing hardness and pressure with 21 abrasives to ensure a smooth surface finish and a mirror like shine.

 

Finishing Types

NATURAL

The natural finish is basically the absence of treatment. The stone is sold as extracted from the quarry, once cut into the desired format. The final look depends entirely on the characteristics of the stone and its exploitation. This finish is appropriated for cladding and cobblestones.

POLISHED

Stones are polished by repeated application of abrasive treatments. This technique produces a shiny surface, with almost zero porosity, while improving resistance. Polished finish highlights the color and properties of the natural stone. It is commonly used as interior wall and floor dressing, as well as bench tops and in kitchen countertops. It is not recommended for outdoor paving, since it reduces slip resistance.

LEATHER

A leather finish is obtained by a process of brushing the slab with a range of brushes. The result is a slightly undulating surface, very soft, warm and smooth to the touch. Only a few materials are sourced with this finish such as granite.

 

FLAMED

This finish is achieved by exposing the surface of the stone directly to a high temperature flame. Flamed finish generates a thin roughness and protects the material for outdoor installation.

LAPPATURA

The granite tiles / slabs are brushed, polished and again brushed for a combination of polished and again brushed for a combination of polished and honed finish.