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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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$ave Money Using Overstock, Remnant and Discontinued Solid Surface

Posted on 27 March 2018 by cradmin

By Kathy O’Lochlayne at SolidSurface.com

One of many walls of solid surface remnants in the SolidSurface.com warehouse

How often do you find yourself rummaging through your solid surface remnant inventory for a color the right size for a job that may not require a full sheet? Have you considered using discontinued or overstock material for a job where you can influence the material to be specified? Below are a few resources on where to find some of this budget-friendly material and potentially save quite a bit of money for yourself and/or your customers.

To help illustrate an example of how one might save, let’s say you bought enough sheets of DuPont Corian® Tumbleweed for a new project. The specs changed midstream and you were just 30 in. short of material to finish the job. Your choices would be to purchase another full sheet, at roughly $700, or find a smaller sheet online for approximately $300 (including shipping)–that would be a savings of $400.

Save on Small and Large Projects

Other ways to save using overstock, remnant and discontinued material might include:

  • Those projects where you need just another few feet of material to finish the job; or
  • Smaller, limited-budget projects, i.e., when the customer wants a 4 ft. vanity top, your pricing can be more competitive by purchasing a partial sheet, rather than having to include the full sheet cost in your quote; or
  • Large jobs where a color category is specified, but not a specific color, and you can select from overstock, seconds or discontinued colors that are heavily discounted.

Solid Surface Resources

While  SolidSurface.com, offers the largest selection of remnant, overstock, discontinued, and material in one location, there are several other resources we’ve found for this type of material:  RemnantSwap.com by Moraware offers a fabricator-to-fabricator resource in a classifieds-style marketplace; some fabricators offer remnant inventory through their websites; many distributors and manufacturers often have lists of discontinued materials; and last, but not least, you might (or might not) be surprised at what you can find on Ebay.

SolidSurface.com’s centralized inventory contains a wide variety of quantities of full and partial sheet remnants (drops) acquired from sources such as fabricators, millwork houses, distributors, and manufacturers in the solid surface industry. Additionally, SolidSurface.com offers acrylic, made in the USA, seconds, called Select Grade, that match the colors of Corian®.

Time-Saving Benefits

Also consider the time-saving benefits of using an online resource:

  • Quickly and efficiently locate hard-to-find solid surface sheet material in full and partial sizes.
  • With a few mouse clicks, and the use of the product filter, a package or pallet with your selection can be on its way to you that same day.
  • If you’re in a time crunch, you can even out-source a custom vanity top through SolidSurface.com’s 10-business-day vanity program, ensuring quick turnaround times and built to your specifications.
  • For large, multi-sheet jobs where customers are less concerned about color than they are about price, you can purchase from a large selection of full sheets as low as $299/sheet, in bulk quantities, with free shipping for 3+ sheets.

Selection, Selection, Selection

With more than 20,000 thousand pieces, representing more than ½ million square feet, in an untold number of colors from 12 recognized brands, finding the right size and color quickly is accommodated by the multi-option filtering system, all of which can save you time and money.

Choose from DuPont™ Corian®, LG HI-MACS®, Aristech™ Avonite®, Samsung™ Staron®, Formica® Solid Surface, Livingstone®, Wilsonart® Solid Surface, Hanwha™ Hanex®, Mystera®, Basix® and Meganite®.  Among these brands, 8 offer their full line of current colors, in case you don’t already have a source for a particular brand.

Your Overstock Inventory

When it comes to warehousing inventory, naturally you may want to keep your valuable accumulation of partial and overstock material (even though it’s already paid for in the original project price).  But, if you don’t have the space, or the extra time and labor it takes to measure, catalog and organize your partial and overstock sheets, consider using SolidSurface.com as a resource pool.  Avoid landfill waste by reducing, reusing and recycling solid surface excess material.

For more information, visit SolidSurface.com

Learn more about how to find material on SolidSurface.com


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SolidSurface.com Celebrates 10 Years

Posted on 05 September 2017 by cradmin

solidsurface-accolades-300x259-300x259SolidSurface.com is celebrating its 10th year as an online source for purchasing decorative solid surface sheet materials, tools, accessories and custom Corian vanity tops. The company features popular solid surface brands such as DuPont Corian, LG HI-MACS, Aristech Avonite, Samsung Staron, Formica, Wilsonart, Hanwha Hanex and Meganite.

Using countertop remnants lying around in the garage, co-founders, Ed and Kyle Carpenter, a father and son team, began creating one-of-a-kind applications with solid surface. They also began fashioning pieces into cutting boards and selling them on eBay. After realizing they could work smarter, not harder, by selling remnant pieces, they launched SolidSurfaceSurplus.com. In early 2007, they formed the parent company SurfaceNet LLC and, in May of 2007, acquired the URL “SolidSurface.com.” They then started working directly with manufacturers and distributors to source overstock and premium grade material, continuing to build out their various product lines.

More than 60,000 shoppers per month visit their site, ranging from DIYers to residential and commercial remodelers and fabricators to woodworkers. They purchase from several categories of products, learn about creating with solid surface material and sometimes order a custom Corian vanity top that can be ready to ship in 10 business days or less.

Future plans for SurfaceNet LLC and SolidSurface.com include a new website launch planned within the next 12 months, expanding the vanity top program and custom fabrication services, adding quartz and other alternative surfacing options, and building even stronger supplier relationships, all of which are intended to further enhance the customer’s overall purchasing experience.

You may also be interested in this article Corian Celebrates Fifty Years With Three New Colors.

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SolidSurface.com Recognized as Top 300 E-Commerce Company

Posted on 26 December 2016 by cradmin

SolidSurface.comSolidSurface.com was named by Internet Retailer and B2BeCommerceWorld.com as one of the top 300 B2B (Business to Business) e-commerce companies for the second consecutive year. The company been ranked 39th in the Hardware/Home Improvement Industry. Additionally, Internet Retailer magazine also recognized SolidSurface.com as a Top 1000 general e-commerce website for the past four years.

B2B E-Commerce companies in the Hardware/Home Improvement category are expected to grow by 28 percent, to more than $13 billion(up from $10 billion last year) mainly due to the continued strength of the housing market. Moreover, consumer spending on furniture and furnishings exceeded the 3.4 percent growth rate in overall U.S. consumer spending in 2015. SolidSurface.com itself has grown 30.8 percent in 2016.

While SolidSurface.com has improved it’s ranking by being named in the top 300 by B2B E-Commerce for two years in a row, competing with large retailers such as Amazon, Lowe’s or Home Depot is tricky for the small business. Keeping up with website enhancements to make navigating the site and shopping easy for consumers, along with finding new avenues of product growth are key. SolidSurface.com also relies heavily on outstanding customer service to keep its customers coming back.

With its customer base now being roughly two-thirds commercial and B2B, the remaining one-third still caters to the DIYer, homeowner and craftspersons. This is a big change from  when the company first started in 2007, when 80 percent of its customers were DIYers or homeowners. The two-thirds that make up the commercial and B2B customers include architects and designers, countertop fabricators, handymen, manufacturers, sign makers, residential and commercial remodelers, and cabinet/wood/mill-workers.

SolidSurface.com averages more than 60,000 unique visitor sessions per month. Shoppers are able to explore several categories of products and information. In the “materials” section, visitors can browse popular brands of solid surface materials, in full sheet or remnant sizes, such as DuPont Corian, LG HI-MACS, Aristech Avonite, Formica, Samsung Staron, GSP Mystera, and Hanwa Hanex. They can then go to the “tools” section to order accompanying accessories such as adhesives, abrasives and other items to fabricate and mount the materials for their projects. The “Explore” and “Learn” sections are filled with helpful how-to guides and other tips and tricks. If a visitor is in need of a fabricator, they can locate one in their area by putting their zip code in the ProFinder section. Offering this service, in turn, helps the fabricators as well when they become a registered professional on the site.

Another unique feature of the website is the ability to custom design a vanity top. The SolidSurface.com site walks a customer through each step of choosing the right size, sink, and faucet hole options, as well as the edges and backsplash.

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StoneTalk Episode 28: Kyle Carpenter

Posted on 23 November 2016 by CRadmin2

CountertopResource.com is pleased to bring you another episode of StoneTalk, the podcast dedicated to countertops and countertop fabrication, hosted by Patrick Foley and produced by Moraware.

In Episode 28, Patrick talks with Kyle Carpenter, the founder of SolidSurface.com, the online marketplace for solid surface, solid surface tools and solid surface accessories. The two discuss an array of fascinating topics, including all of the following:

  • How SolidSurface.com evolved from a resource for the DIY community to supporting professional fabricators
  • How customers go about searching for construction contractors
  • How fabricators can pass down the work for small vanities
  • The ins and outs of application program interfaces (APIs) and how they are used to benefit the countertop industry

Read the transcript of this episode here: StoneTalk Episode 28 – Kyle Carpenter

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Still Time to Sign up for ISFA/IWF Countertop Symposium Sponsored by SolidSurface.com

Posted on 18 August 2016 by cradmin

There is still time to register for the full-day Countertop Symposium on Tuesday, August 23, at IWF. The event is put on by ISFA and sponsored by SolidSurface.com, and takes place the day before the show floor opens for IWF. The seminar is designed to provide a wealth of information to both established countertop fabricators and those exploring their options in the countertop industry.

Industry experts will share information and insights to help you learn about the products and business of the decorative surfacing industry.

Topics will include:

• Solid Surface Thermoforming
• Profiting from Diversification of your Countertop Shop
• Solid Surface Casework: Why it Makes Sense
• Countertop Industry Outlook: A Forecast of Factors Affecting the Industry
• Q & A opportunities with a distinguished panel of industry experts
The presenters include the owners of successful surfacing companies and others who are well versed in the technology, techniques and business requirements of countertop operations.

The session covers both residential and commercial operations, and encompasses information on solid surface, quartz surfacing, stone, laminate and a variety of other countertop options.

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