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Artificial Stone Manufacturing with Silicone Part 3: Common Problems and Next Steps


Artificial Stone Manufacturing with Silicone Part 3: Common Problems and Next Steps

Artificial Stone Manufacturing with Silicone Common Problems and Next Steps

With the advancement of technology came the ability to replicate rare and beautiful natural objects. Diamonds, hair, and bacon are just a few of the items that scientists and inventors have managed to reproduce. The benefit of doing this is that the average consumer can then afford a product that is indistinguishable from the real thing. One such commodity that has been recreated is natural stone. The artificial stone manufacturing industry has done an incredible job of creating artificial stones that are identical to natural stones. 

Gluegun.com is one such company that helps artificial stone molders to create such identical replications. They are one of the few Wacker Chemie North American partners, and with regards to the artificial stone industry, Wacker Chemie offers several products that are indispensable. Gluegun.com is then able to take these products and use their unique expertise in silicone to assist those involved in artificial stone molding.

The ELASTOSIL M Silicone Rubber For Concrete Molding expands the limits for structure. The "M" in the product name stands for the mold-making compounds that are perfect for reproducing. The contractor or manufacturer gains all of concrete's benefits, but also gains an increased aesthetic quality. Not only do these products cure at room temperature and easily peel from the original surface, but they also make the best reproductions. The main benefit of using concrete is that it is durable and inexpensive--the ability to mold concrete opens up a whole new world of innovation and creativity. 

  • ELASTOSIL M4600 A/B: This product has a platinum cure and has a mixing ratio by weight of 10:1. The durometer hardness is 20, the tensile strength is 1000 psi, the ultimate elongation is 800%, and the tear resistance is 180 ppi. The product is translucent, the mechanical properties have long-term stability, there is excellent flow, and with common casting resins it has good resistance. There are 3 packaging solutions available and, depending on volume, the price can be negotiated. The first option is a tote kit, which costs $15.50 per kilogram. It comes with a 1080 kilogram tote A and a 108 kilogram drum B. The second option is a drum kit, which costs $16.75 per kilogram. It includes a 180 kilogram drum A with an 18 kilogram pail B. The third option is the pail kit, which costs $18.50 per kilogram. It comes with an 18 kilogram pail A and a 1.8 kilogram pail B.
  • ELASTOSIL M4630 A/B: ELASTOSIL M4630 is similar to M4600 in that is has a platinum cure and has a mixing ratio by weight of 10:1. The durometer hardness, at 26, is where the similarities end. This product also has tensile strength of 950 psi, ultimate elongation of 700% and tear resistance of 175 ppi. The main purpose of this particular product is for creating concrete replications of models with deep undercuts. This is because of its high resistance to concrete and its mechanical properties that are superior. There are also 3 available packaging solutions. The tote kit costs $14.50 per kilogram and includes a 1080 kilogram tote A with a 108 kilogram drum B. The drum kit costs $16.00 per kilogram and is possible but is not currently set up. The pail kit costs $20.00 per kilogram and comes with a 30 kilogram hobbock A with a 3 kilogram pail B and will be shipped from Germany. Again, depending on the volume, the price can be negotiated.
  • ELASTOSIL M4635 A/B: As with the former 2 products, this product also has a platinum cure and a by-weight mixing ratio of 10:1. The durometer hardness is 35, the tensile strength is 1000 psi, the ultimate elongation is 480%, and the tear strength is 175 ppi. This product is made for molds with a certain rigidity, and for all model molds that have undercuts to be recreated in casting resins. This is again due to its resistance to concrete and its advanced mechanical properties. This product only has 2 packaging solutions. The first is the tote kit, which costs $14.50 per kilogram, and the second is the drum kit, which costs $16.00 per kilogram. The tote kit comes with a 1080 kilogram tote A and a 108 kilogram drum B. And while the drum kits are not set up, they are still possible. And as mentioned before, based on volume, the price can be negotiated.

Common Issues

The break-in period and hazing are 2 of the most common issues that builders need to look out for. The break-in period is the amount of time it takes for the stones to come out of the mold with a consecutively "true color" (i.e. no more white areas). For the M4600 that is usually about 20 casts, and for the M4630 and the M4635 it is less than 5 casts. 

Hazing is when there is a deposit on the surface of the masonry. It is usually white and sometimes occurs in the surface pores of the product, which causes surface disrupting expansion. With stone molding, the main cause of hazing is salt being drawn to the surface of the stone during the molding process. This is more likely to happen if the stones cure too fast, there is elevated water in the concrete or the manufacturer is still in the process of breaking in the mold. 

Next Steps

One of the more difficult aspects of the artificial stone manufacturing industry is getting a foot in the door and expanding business. The best move a builder can make, whether they are looking to start a business or expand their own, is to attend an international builders show. At this type of event, individuals have the opportunity to gain contacts with various companies and professionals, as well as seeing all the latest developments. After the show, builders should follow-up and figure out who might be the best molding and silicone contact. Then it's a matter of handing off leads to sales and supporting the sales team.