Innovations Abound at ISSFA Show

by WOHe

Solid Surface 2001, the fourth annual trade show, based in Las
Vegas and sponsored each year by the International Solid Surface
Fabricators Association (ISSFA), was again a big success. The show
has grown each year, and is a “must” for anyone seriously involved
in the solid surface industry. As always, I kept my eyes peeled for
interesting items that fabricators may find useful in their
businesses, and I wasn’t disappointed. Here are a few:’

Monument Toolworks has developed the revolutionary Parallign
Seam Clamp, which improves seam quality and saves time both in
clamping and in sanding seams. The innovation is that each side of
the clamp consists of a vacuum pod connected by three precision
steel guide rods. As clamping pressure is applied, the adjoining
surfaces are automatically drawn into precisely flush alignment
with one another. After curing, excess adhesive can easily and
accurately be trimmed off, and no rough sanding is required. Finish
sanding begins with 180 grit sandpaper, saving time and producing
more consistent seam quality.

The Parallign Seam Clamp is available in two models one using
compressed air for shop use, and another with an integral vacuum
pump for use by installers on jobsites. For more information, call
508-644-2400, or visit the company Web site at www.monumenttoolworks.com.’

ZipWall has developed a system that enables effective dust
barriers to be erected in a home in a matter of minutes without
masking tape. ZipWall poles are telescoping, twist-lock units with
spring-loaded jacks. The basic system works with ceiling heights up
to 12 feet, and special units can accommodate ceiling heights up to
20 feet. Using lightweight tarps, drop cloths or plastic sheeting,
an almost impervious enclosure can be created using just four
poles. For more information, call 800-718-2255, or visit the firm’s
Web site at www.zipwall.com.’

Rotaloc Bonding Fasteners from Chemical Concepts are an
alternative to the brass bushings often used to secure porcelain
vanity bowls to the underside of solid surface vanity tops. The
Rotaloc hardware system can be applied to a variety of materials
using structural adhesives appropriate to each material. They are
available in a variety of sizes and configurations. For more
information, call 800-220-1966 or go to www.chemical-concepts.com
on the Web.’
Larger fabricators using or considering the purchase of a CNC
router may also find it profitable to use an electronic templating
system. ETemplate Systems has developed a portable, self-contained
device utilizing sonic technology that allows a countertop layout
to be digitized on the jobsite in a matter of minutes, without
making a cardboard or plywood template. The operator uses a
hand-held probe to collect data points either from installed
cabinets or from existing old countertops. The system accommodates
complex curves and irregular walls, and locates sinks and appliance
cutouts. Installations up to 16 feet long can be digitized in a
single operation. Best of all, the completed electronic template
can be e-mailed instantly to your CNC router, saving time and
travel for field personnel. The company estimates that templating
time can be cut in half. For information, call 919-676-2244 or
visit the firm’s Web site at www.etemplatesystems.com.’
Previously, I’ve discussed the trend toward automated V grooving in
solid surface fabrication. These machines are becoming more
affordable, and can now be cost-justified by smaller shops. Auto V
Grooving, the world’s leading supplier of V grooving equipment, is
offering a lease at just $99 per month for a full-featured machine.
For information, call 800-387-5819 or visit the Web at
www.vgrooving.com.’

Business aids
For years, I’ve advocated the most comprehensive computerization of
fabricator’s business operations. Counter Intelligence by Pinnacle
Manufacturing is a fully integrated software program that can be
used by solid surface, plastic laminate and synthetic stone
countertop fabricators. The software produces estimates, contracts,
shop drawings, job schedules, purchase orders, packing lists and
invoices. The program also communicates with QuickBooks for
complete accounting system integration. Databases of product
information for 20 brands of countertop materials are now
available. For information, call 440-572-2220 or e-mail pinnaclemfg@core.com.’

Another software solution called FabOffice is offered by Hi-Tech
Worktops. FabOffice offers a customer database, tracking of
employee time per job, data collection by bar code scanning, job
tracking, vendor pricing and inventory control. The program also
interfaces with Cost Point and Visual Pricing software. A
demonstration version is available at a nominal price. Call
301-493-6105 for more information.’

The shortage of skilled labor is a restraining factor in the
growth of many solid surface fabrication companies today. To help
with this problem, the Carpenters Union now has a Solid Surface
Installer Certification Program, developed in partnership with five
major manufacturers of solid surface materials. The
state-of-the-art training facility is located in Las Vegas. For
more information, call 702-938-1111 x200.’

Growing businesses struggling to stay on course can sometimes
use the special insights of a management consultant. Chris Traynor
worked for 20 years as a key person at Dolan & Traynor, a major
East Coast distributor of DuPont Corian. Now, he’s formed a
management consulting business called Whip-Smart. For more
information, call 973-831-4274 or visit the firm’s impressive Web
site at www.whip-smart.com.’

If you are ever called upon to repair solid surface countertops,
you simply must look into Templates By Andreas. Solid surface
repair is my main business, and Kevin Andreas is one of my peers.
His precision templates speed the repair process and improve repair
strength and appearance, and are well worth the price. They are
clearly superior do-it-yourself templates. For more information,
call 800-935-5406.’

There are bound to be many more innovative new tools and
services for solid surface fabricators on display at Solid Surface
2002, which will be held at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las
Vegas early next year. Plan now to be there. Contact ISSFA for more
information at 702-567-8150, or visit the association’s Web site at
www.issfa.com.

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