Natural cracks and mineral inclusions in natural stone surfaces significantly diminish the turnovers of quarry operators. Buyers from Arab and Asian countries, which are among the most important buyers, prefer, for example, for large-area interior-finishing work, uniform grain patterns without natural structural abnormalities. Against this background, Böhm AG, which specializes in special machinery construction, reports the development of the first system for fully automatically refining the surfaces of natural stone and other mineral construction materials such as concrete.
In the applied process, value-diminishing veins, structural abnormalities or undesirable inclusions in block and construction material surfaces are fully automatically eliminated by means of intelligent image processing, laser and high-performance printers. The process similarly enables the process for restructuring the surfaces of materials for application as decorative elements.
Concrete and natural stone surfaces refined
In the 32 m long modular system from Böhm, a conveyor line moves the sections measuring 3.2 m x 1.8 m through series-connected processing stations. At first, an intelligent camera system with self-learning image processing scans the surfaces of the inclusions, veins and cracks. The sensitivity of the analysis can be adjusted on a touch screen by intuitive operation by image output on a touch screen. After a laser, with utmost precision, has vaporized the value-diminishing structures, the lasered areas are overprinted with a high-performance printer, in the periphery colors and grains. Finally follows fully automatic filling with transparent sealing material and polishing of the surface. The process achieves flawless results. The artificial restructuring is not visible to the unaided eye and is already being referred to as historic. “We invested most of the development work in programming the adaptive software and in setting up the printer unit,” explains Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Felix Hellmuth, Managing Director and Executive Board Member of Böhm AG. “For control, construction and components we were able to draw on our time-tested knowhow, but with the intelligent surface structure and the printing system we entered totally unknown territory. For this work, there existed virtually no empirical experience on the whole market. Depending on the desired degree of perfection, the system refines in 12 hours up to 1000 m² natural stone and/or concrete surface. A smaller, 14-m-long variety of the Böhm system for panels measuring 1.2 m x 1.2 m reaches a performance of up to 400 m² in 12 hours.