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Fabricator Spotlight:  Creatacor – Fabricating the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall with Avonite® Solid Surface

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Fabricator Spotlight: Creatacor – Fabricating the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall with Avonite® Solid Surface

Posted on 26 July 2018 by cradmin

Guest Blog by SolidSurface.com

Full Display of The Wall That Heals by Creatacor (2018)

Featured Project: The Wall That Heals – Vietnam Veterans Memorial Replica – a Look Behind the Scenes

After nearly 10 years, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) knew it was time to replace the Vietnam Veterans Memorial mobile exhibit of the replica wall, The Wall That Heals. They sent out a request for proposal (RFP) to contractors they thought might be able to handle the project. Creatacor, a full turnkey exhibit display house based in Clifton Park, New York, having completed several smaller projects previously for the VVMF, jumped at the chance to submit their bid and was selected to build the new Wall. Their build included a unique mobile design using Avonite® Eclipse solid surface. The selection process was completed at the end of December of 2017, leaving Creatacor only 7-8 weeks to complete this exciting project.

The Creaticor Team

Creatacor, which employs between 50-55 people just 20 minutes north of Albany, New York, is known by many in the display industry for its state-of-the-art custom fabrication techniques. These techniques have resulted in unforgettable exhibits and inline displays in corporate and retail environments, in interactive kiosks and sets for both television and stage. In essence, Creatacor believes in using the talents of their creative, problem-solving team to come up with just the right solution for every unique situation.

Laying the Groundwork for Teamwork

Creatacor received the RFP early in December and immediately began sourcing the materials for a sturdy frame, for the walls and for the actual engraving in anticipation of the possibility of being awarded the contract. Once Creatacor was awarded the project, everyone lit on fire! Dave West was selected as Project Manager, laying the groundwork for what they needed. Julian Colbert, in charge of procurement, had already reached out to vendors just in case the project came through. Each vendor contacted was equally excited about the possibility of being part of this historic project.  The vendors were even required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, so word of the project would not get out.

Avonite Eclipse Solid Surface Panels in The Wall That Heals by Creatacor

Because this special project meant so much to many of the executives, managers and employees of Creatacor, everyone wanted to be a part of it. Creatacor is a close-knit company with a family-style atmosphere where they all “see a need and fill a need,” according to the Project Lead, Cathy Miller. This project touched so many people within the company who were linked to The Wall one way or another through family members who had served, both those that lost their lives and those that came home.

Project Specs

The specs for this unique project were provided by the VVMF and were very detailed. It was to be an exact replica of The Wall in Washington, DC, scaled to three-quarters of the original Wall. The new mobile Wall would need to accommodate the more than 58,000 names of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. The panels could not exceed 75 pounds each to keep it mobile. Creatacor developed a mathematical template for each sectioned panel. Each panel contained a list of names (section 1). In the margin there was a counter dot for every 10 lines (section 2). At the bottom was the panel number (section 3). The VVMF also sent over a Word file with all of the names to be engraved on the Wall. The Word file then had to be transferred to another program in order to be read by the CNC machine.

Building frames for the solid surface panels in The Wall That Heals by Creatacor

The Right Materials

Each of the materials Creatacor selected for this project was chosen very carefully. An aluminum framework was crafted to hold each of the panels.  Heavier steel was used for the support legs. Creatacor’s Fabrication/Engineering Manager, Brandon Verdu, designed the frames so that the panels could be removed from the frames and fit into the trailer for travel. The frames are bolted together and set up so that four panels slide into one section of the frame, making it easier to setup and teardown at each destination.

Avonite Eclipse chosen for its reflective qualities in The Wall That Heals by Creatacor

When it came to the selection of actual materials to build the wall panels, Creatacor looked for the most durable, shiniest and blackest material they could find so that it would be reflective, just like the original Wall. Natural materials such as granite or quartz were ruled out immediately as they would be far too heavy to move conveniently. With these parameters in mind, Creatacor made the easy decision to use Avonite® Eclipse solid surface material.

Brandon was also tasked with figuring out exactly how much of the Avonite® Eclipse solid surface was needed. With The Wall being a chevron shape, 8’ sheets of solid surface material would be required for the bigger walls. The smaller walls would only require ½ sheets of material. The material then had to be cut accordingly to create the 144 individual panels.

The finished solid surface exhibit of The Wall That Heals is 375 feet long and stands 7.5 feet high at the tallest point. It is scaled at three-quarters of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial located north of the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Avonite Eclipse solid surface panels in The Wall That Heals by Creatacor

Aristech Solid Surface

Sourcing the solid surface material proved to be more difficult than anticipated. Cathy Miller said that when Creatacor initially contacted Timothy A. Maiuri, the Territory Sales Manager at Aristech Surfaces LLC, he told them it would take 11 to 12 weeks to provide Avonite™ Eclipse solid surface material that was needed for the project. By the time Creatacor got news that they had been selected to design the project, there were only 8 weeks remaining until the deadline. When Timothy became aware of the tighter deadline and was told this was for The Wall That Heals, he took immediate action. Having had two cousins and a brother whose names were on The Wall, he knew the importance of this project. Aristech stopped work on other productions for a few days to ensure Creatacor would have the Avonite in time.

Engraving the Solid Surface

The longest part of the project was the routing or engraving of the names and symbols which was scheduled to take 5 weeks or about 500 hours. Before this could happen, there were many hours spent checking and rechecking details against the original Wall in Washington, DC.

Once the buffing, cleaning and routing out of each sheet of Avonite® was completed and approval was given, Creatacor set up the files, put these into elevations, and loaded this information into a different program. Because of the crunched timeline, they enlisted the help of H. Loeb to do the engraving of the names since they had more than one CNC machine.

The Significance of the Symbols

Few people realize that The Wall in Washington, DC, changes yearly. There are symbols–diamonds and crosses–on The Wall indicating a service member’s status. Diamonds signify that the service member is confirmed dead or KIA. Crosses indicate MIA – missing in action.  When a service member’s remains are accounted for, the diamond is superimposed over the cross.

Symbols engraved in The Wall That Heals

Names are listed in chronological order by date of death, so each panel represents a period of time. Inside each day, names are listed in alphabetical order. When a name is added, it is added to the end of a line as close as possible to the service member’s casualty date. To find the location of a name on The Wall, one can search on VVMF’s website on the Wall of Faces at www.vvmf.org/thewall or through “The Wall” app available through the App Store or Google Play.

It is anticipated the new Avonite® solid surface wall will be in circulation for at least 10 years. During that time, names may be added to the exhibit by Creatacor.  If status changes need to be made, Creatacor has trained VVMF staff to be able to make status changes.

Commemorating a visit to The Wall That Heals, Courtesy of DLG Photography

The engraving is one of the highlights that make the mobile version of The Wall That Heals a little more like visiting the actual Wall. People will now be able to take a piece of paper and a pencil and rub over the name of their loved one, making their own personal remembrance to take home with them.

The Lighting

Creatacor sourced out the lighting based on the specs given to them by the client, Tim Tetz of the VVMF. The lighting had to be soft, yet able to cast light far enough. It also had to be light enough in design so that people would not be tempted to hang on it (as happened with the previous wall). They chose LED lighting and used Hartranft Lighting Design to supply the lighting materials. Dave, the Project Manager, who also happens to have an electrician background, was able to put it all together at the Creatacor facility. The lights were designed to clip onto each panel and cast just the right amount of light back onto the shiny black solid surface wall panels.

The Mobile Education Center

Under a separate RFP, Creatacor was once again awarded the contract to outfit the brand new 53-foot trailer. For the vignettes, Creatacor built the windows and graphics. The VVMF supplied the artifacts and memorabilia. Real letters and images of actual documents were reproduced for the exhibit.

Mobile Education Center, Courtesy of DLG Photography

Window Vignettes, Mobile Education Center, Courtesy of DLG Photography

Lighted Vignettes, Mobile Education Center, Courtesy of DLG Photography

The Education Center provides teachable moments in each of the communities along the way for the younger generations to learn about honoring those in uniform who served and sacrificed so much.

Making the Deadline

Though the project timeline was incredibly tight, Creatacor managed to complete it with only minutes to spare. The Wall That Heals was scheduled to leave on February 23, 2018, at 4:00 p.m. The Creatacor team shut the doors to the trailer at 3:50 p.m.

Procession for The Wall That Heals on its journey to its first destination, Portland, Texas

The team was truly afraid they were not going to make the deadline. The deep meaning of the project itself kept everyone constantly motivated – they were in it to win it – it was very emotional and an extremely exciting project to be a part of. VVMF members Patrick O’Neill (Site Manager) and Tim Tetz (Director of Outreach) were awesome to work with. They kept saying if you want it done on time, you need to take the emotion out of it. Everyone at Creatacor was in it with their hearts making sure everything was perfect. The message from the top, coming from COO Will Farmer, was “this is not just a business, this is not just a project–these are our people, we can do this for them.” Everyone was each other’s cheerleader, always cheering each other on to the finish.

Night view with lights of The Wall That Heals by Creatacor

Unveiling the Finished Product

So many of the people who worked on the project had ties to it one way or another. The feeling of respect everyone at Creatacor has for those who put on a uniform was abundantly evident throughout the project. Everyone there held this project close to their chest, to honor the service members because they deserve it.

The Patriot Guard was called in to escort The Wall That Heals on its journey to its first destination which was Portland, Texas. It had to be there and set up by March 1, 2018. Employees of Creatacor and local veterans in New York were given the opportunity for a private preview of 20 feet of the new Wall. There was even a veteran from WWII there to appreciate the experience along with them.

A Gold Star Mother offers a prayer to begin the journey for The Wall That Heals

The weather was stormy, playing right into the solemn anticipation of the spectators. The Sheriff and state and local police and fire departments were there to see the trailer off properly. A Gold Star Mother offered up a prayer just before the trailer left. It was very emotional for everyone.

A true appreciation for the amazing teamwork and eventual scope of the project became even more evident to the team at Creatacor when they watched a lone Vietnam Veteran walk quietly to The Wall, place both hands on it and stood to remember as his eyes filled with tears.

The Wall That Heals, Courtesy of DLG Photography

Learn more about The Wall That Heals at www.vvmf.org

Wreath at The Wall That Heals

For more information about The Wall that Heals and Creatacor:

The Wall That Heals Schedule

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund

Creatacor Inc.

Creatacor Press Release for The Wall That Heals

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Dye Sublimation - Bringing Your Corian® & Solid Surface to Life With Imagery

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Dye Sublimation – Bringing Your Corian® & Solid Surface to Life With Imagery

Posted on 29 May 2018 by cradmin

Presented by SolidSurface.com

If you want to give your customers another option for adding more artistry and pizzazz to their business, home office, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, family room or bedroom, look no further than using a great selection of solid surface Corian®, HI-MACS, Avonite or any other brand for that matter.

Using a process called dye sublimation, you can transfer any design, logo, photograph or image (no matter how simple or complex) onto the solid surface material.

Dye Sublimation in the Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s offices at Inverdee House in Aberdeen, Scotland. Reception desk project by Keppie Design Architects; photo Simon Price. Photograph courtesy of DuPont.


How It’s Done

Although it may look complicated, dye sublimation is really quite simple and the results are impressive! And, as it turns out, solid surface is the perfect medium for the dye sublimation process. This is because successful dye sublimation is dependant upon an acrylic or polyester base for application due to its ability to bond with the gassed ink dyes that are used.

To start, have your customer provide you with their desired image or text–a photograph, digital or vector image. It’s important to confirm that the image meets the minimum digital or printed requirements to enable creation of a viable digital image file for sublimation.

After going through your quality check process, you can then print the desired image to an ink transfer plate and heat up both the plate and the solid surface material. Once the materials reach the proper temperature, a vacuum process is used to transfer the ink on the transfer plate (now in gaseous form) into the Corian® or other solid surface material. (Note: this process may vary slightly between dye sublimation specialists.)

Presto! The desired image or text is now permanently embedded into the surface, creating a very artistic and unique piece. This printed solid surface piece can now be fabricated, shaped and thermoformed, in the same manner as any other piece of solid surface material.

Think of the Solid Surface as a Blank Canvas…

Just like Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso or Warhol, envision the solid surface material as a blank canvas just waiting to spring to life with whatever imagery your customer desires. Through the dye sublimation process, virtually anything imaginable can be masterfully transferred into the solid surface. Possibilities range from larger endeavors like business signs, paneled installations, wall décor and artistic flourishes added to countertops, to smaller projects like promotional goods, coasters, hot plates, trivets or customized trophies or gifts.

Dye sublimation in various design concepts developed by R.D.Wing Co., Inc., for the AIA 2006 Convention, DuPont Corian Booth. Photo courtesy of R.D. Wing Co., Inc.

Dye sublimation is unique in that the process permanently embeds and preserves a selected image or text in the actual solid surface substrate. As a result, your customer can also have the creative flexibility to choose between a matte or high gloss finish for the final touch.

Quite literally, dye sublimation allows the imagination to be the limit on what is created. So bring out the inner artist in your customer and offer them dye sublimation on their next solid surface project.

Dye Sublimation in the Pediatrics and Pediatric Emergency Reception Area of the Hospital Universitari Sant Joan de Reus, Spain, Decoration by FernandezCoca.com; Photo courtesy of curArte and DuPont.

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Avonite Releases New Colors

Posted on 07 March 2018 by cradmin

AVONITE SURFACES NEW COLORSAvonite Surfaces Acrylic Solid Surface, a brand of Aristech Surfaces LLC,  released new colors for 2018. The new launch consisted of 16 colors that include: Antique Blue, Azul, Dove Gray, Dove Shimmer, Fuego, Galactic Ice, Ice Blue, Mango, Morning Tundra, New Concrete, Porcelain, Rivers Edge, Signal, Smoke, Storm and Vintage Concrete.

These colors join more than 50 standard colors and patterns offered by Avonite Surfaces. Avonite acrylic solid surface is used in architectural and design applications in hospitality, retail, education, government, healthcare and commercial workspaces. The benefits of Avonite include a non-porous surface, stain resistant, NSF Certified Food Zone Safe, bacteria and chemical resistant, inconspicuous seams, a readily repairable surface and the product is thermoformable for curved and custom applications.

You may also be interested in this article about new colors of Vadara Quartz

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Avonite Surfaces Introduces Movement Solid Surface Collection

Posted on 02 November 2017 by cradmin

Avonite Surfaces Acrylic Solid Surface, a brand of Aristech Surfaces LLC,  announced the release of its newest collection of colors. The Movement collection consists of four colors inspired by nature; Torrent, Altitude, Summit and Morning Mist.

The four new colors join more than 50 standard colors and patterns offered by Avonite Surfaces. Avonite acrylic solid surface is used in architectural and design applications in hospitality, retail, education, government, healthcare and commercial workspaces. The benefits of Avonite include a non-porous surface, stain resistant, NSF Certified Food Zone Safe, bacteria and chemical resistant, inconspicuous seams, readily repairable surface and thermoformable for curved and custom applications.

You may also be interested in this article about solid surface sinks and basins.

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Aristech Introduces 12 New Design Options

Posted on 28 September 2016 by cradmin


Custom wine wall made in Ocean Breeze

Aristech Surfaces announced that it is introducing 12 all-new architectural and design materials under the Studio Collection™ by Avonite Surfaces brand. The new collection features designs with movement and texture, ultra-translucency, and terrazzo-inspired looks that bring a unique aesthetic for interior design.

According to the company these newly formulated polymer materials, which combine a striking design look with a formable, repairable and seamable surface, are ideal design alternatives to higher-cost surfaces such as concrete and glass, onyx, and other translucent PMMA and HDPE-filled resins. Applications include room dividers and partitions, store fixtures, column wraps, illumination, countertops, and accent pieces where lighting and aesthetics are key elements of design.

“The new Studio Collection represents a next generation of design materials, giving customers a competitive edge in design and functionality,” said Kristina Morgan, Global Marketing Manager for Aristech Surfaces. “Other materials such as concrete and crushed glass can be very expensive, have design limitations, and we’ve found installation can cost two to three times as much. With the increasing design trend of translucency and texture, our veined translucent colors are a true innovation in the surfacing industry.”

Designers are quickly specifying these products for use in commercial applications. “Longevity, ease of install, and custom design without a custom price tag,” said the designer who worked closely with R&R Millwork and Aristech Surfaces on the installation of the new Crushed Garnet color in a chain of restaurants. “People don’t realize how much time and cost can be saved by using these materials.”

The twelve new colors are categorized into three different collections. The Elements series includes the new translucent veined colors Tempest, Ocean Breeze, Jet Stream, and Rose Quartz; The Mosaics series includes Terrazzo and Crushed Garnet; and the Frosted Glass series includes Citron, Harbor Fog, Catalina, Pewter, Grenadine, and Pure Aqua. Custom colors are also available through the company’s Chromatix™ program.

You may also be interested in this video about embedded LED light pattern in a vanity or countertop.

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35 New Colors of Avonite Surfaces To Debut

Posted on 12 March 2015 by cradmin

avonite international paletteAvonite® Surfaces, a brand of Aristech Surfaces, is introducing its new international palette of 35 acrylic solid surface colors this spring and Studio Collection® Specialty Blend colors. Unique to the new palette, reports the company, is the ability to coordinate solid color neutrals with matching translucent accent pieces, creating new opportunities for color and light. Designers can coordinate various looks in the same space. The new line features a wider breadth of 100 percent acrylic neutrals and earth tones such as Brume and Café au Lait, as well as brilliant Studio colors such as Bluebell and Luna to provide striking looks and accents. The new colors will premier at GlobalShop Show and Conference in Las Vegas, March 24 to 26.

You may also be interested in this article on Mystera’s new colors of solid surface.

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Aristech Surfaces Adds New Avonite Solid Surface Color

Posted on 24 July 2014 by cradmin

Aristech Avonite Alpine ShimmerAristech Surfaces has added a new color – Alpine Shimmer – to its Avonite Foundations Line of solid surface. The new color has a whitish base color with a subtle shimmer of reflective particulates.

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Aristech Acrylics/Avonite Surfaces Rebrands Identity as Aristech Surfaces

Posted on 12 June 2014 by cradmin

New Aristech Surfaces logoOn June 1, in a letter to the industry, Aristech Acrylics/Avonite Surfaces CEO Ross McMillan announced that the two wings of the company would now be folded under a new name – Aristech Surfaces. “There is a long history behind these two global product brands, which have co-existed since 2003, and we are refocusing our efforts to leverage the obvious synergies between them,” stated McMillan. “As we look toward the future, we are looking at the entire surfacing market with its many product/material functionalities. Our goal will be to further expand our ‘surface solutions’ offering, providing customers and markets with a one-stop shop for their various surfacing project needs. This is a much broader approach than our prior individual product and markets approach, and changing our name from Aristech Acrylics LLC to Aristech Surfaces LLC is a natural progression in line with this philosophy.”

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Avonite Launches Stone-like Symphony Solid Surface Collection

Posted on 01 April 2014 by cradmin

Avonite Symphony Collection of Solid SurfaceAvonite Surfaces is launching its new Symphony collection in April. The six new solid surface designs are reminiscent of natural stone, with random patterns and movement similar to that seen in nature. The new colors were inspired by the majesty of marble concert halls and opera houses, and the unique patterns can also be custom-colored to match any design needs. Avonite’s ‘Right-Sized’ sheet program allows for custom sizing that can be optimized to fit the demands of any project, creating added value by minimizing seams and waste. Like all solid surface, the material is nonporous, making it very hygienic.

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University of San Francisco Case Study: A look at the usage of the Avonite Wet Wall System

Posted on 29 October 2012 by cradmin

Avonite wet wall CS picIn fall of 2011, first-year students selected to live in Phelan Residence Hall were welcomed by a long-awaited change. As the oldest operating hall on campus since 1955, it’s one of the most popular for young student placement, but was also one of the most unlivable.

The most anticipated renovation was that of the bathrooms. Many Phelan residents were disturbed by the overall cleanliness. “I didn’t like Phelan because of how dirty and smelly it was. I remember in the shower, I would stay in the middle because I was disgusted by touching the walls,” said junior Philip Sy.

The massive scope of work included gutting the interior structure, building a new entrance, and adding seismic reinforcements to the exterior. All of this had to be done in just eight weeks.

This challenge went to the design and construction team of Oculus Architects Inc. and Turner Construction. Avonite® reps Priscilla Miranda & Lisa Meenan had visited Oculus and highlighted the advantages of the Avonite® wet wall system. Solid surface walls were already being considered for the showers, but when Steve Connelly of Oculus learned that the Avonite® wall panels came in 60-in. widths, he began to consider covering all the wet area walls with the Avonite® product. The wall panels could be installed faster than tile and would last longer. However, Turner Construction wondered if it had been done before.

Fischer Tile was just finishing a similar installation at the Veterans Administration Medical Complex (VAMC) in Palo Alto, Calif. Fischer Tile ordered 60-in.-wide panels and custom heights of 108 and 105 inches. Mike Betschart of Turner Construction was introduced to John Salmon of Fischer Tile and allowed to tour the VAMC installation site. Turner was impressed with the clean look of the panels and the quality workmanship. Betschart decided this was the solution he was looking for, but was concerned about the products being ready in time. The owner and designer wanted a color called Cordoba, which is not one of the standard wall panel colors.

This presented a new twist on the timing challenge: custom size orders generally take six weeks. So, with the understanding of the customer’s constraints in mind, Aristech proceeded with the Avonite® panel production preparation so it would be ready to produce and deliver once the order came through. The anticipated order was delayed by several weeks, but once the order was placed, Fisher Tile received the custom color, custom-sized panels in just three weeks.

Then the real fun began. “We only had three and a half weeks to install more than 30,000 SF of solid surface on all of the wall surfaces,” Salmon explained. “We ended up hard seaming everything so it really looks nice. My crews were working seven 12-hour days and even had me helping Thursdays through Sundays.”

“With such a tight time frame, this job could have gone south with a delayed shipment or anything at all,” Salmon continued. “I give special thanks to our Avonite® Surfaces Regional Manager Priscilla Miranda and the production crews back at the Avonite® facility. They really pulled through on their end. After completing our second major project using Avonite® Wall Panels, I told Priscilla we love working with the 1/4-in. wall panels. They have great traits you probably really wouldn’t understand unless you had to sling as much as we have on the walls.”

For more information, go to www.avonitesurfaces.com.

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