Headquartered in Minnesota, Cambria operates five fabrication shops across the country, and along the way, the company has developed best practices that keep those shops running with outstanding efficiency and precision. This knowledge is offered as coursework via the Academy at Cambria. What began in 2004 now includes a full catalog of resources and customizable classes all led by a team of five instructors who represent over 90 years of experience in the industry.
“We are fabricators,” said Emily Kanz, field marketing specialist for Cambria. “We implemented vertical integration. Not only do we own the mine where we source our quartz, but we manufacture the product, fabricate it, install it, and offer the service to maintain the material. Taking that a step further, we offer learning opportunities for partners who want to expand their knowledge of fabrication and installation.”
“We learn from the market just like the market learns from us,” said Cory Eccles, field training manager for Cambria. “That’s collaboration. The only way you can stay on top of the industry is by listening and responding.”
When a shop signs up for the academy, Cambria will do what they call a deep dive. “We’ll take a look at what you want to learn about and work with you to make sure we’re covering all the bases,” said Eccles. “Then we layer in our experience to see where you are at and help you get to where you want to be. It’s specific to your business needs.”
The Academy at Cambria is always evolving based on the needs of the industry. But there are a few things that are consistent best practices. Preinspection, layout detail, cutting guidelines and finish work are some common points of interest.
Cambria believes that the process of pre-inspecting slabs is crucial. The time you invest reviewing your material can help you yield the most out of your slabs.
Since the material can have natural variation, review your slabs with your layout in mind before you cut. If you’re cutting slabs that come with any kind of protection, make sure it’s removed before you inspect.
Whether you use digital programs or physical templates, it’s important to take the time to nest your pieces on the slab and consider how and where those pieces will seam. Determine how the vein flow will appear in the finished product. This can help you maximize the yield of your slabs.
Cambria realizes that every shop is different, and some will perform layouts manually and some digitally. Cambria is always working toward making their partners’ job easier. “A new program we offer to our fabrication partners is our layout service,” said Kanz. “If they don’t have Slabsmith or Taglio and they have a big project coming, they can contact us, we’ll lay it out for them and send them the CAD files.”
When cutting any quartz product, the Academy at Cambria team points out four main areas to consider: making relief cuts, ordering cuts, bed maintenance, and blade speed and feed.
For example, relief cuts need to be started off the slab and run through the slab. No plunge cuts. Ordering and numbering cuts maximizes the efficiency of your machines.
Bed maintenance and machine maintenance shouldn’t be ignored. If tools are off, so is the finished product. Blade speed and feed has many factors depending on the size and shape of the machine, horsepower, size or even brand of blade, thickness of the material, and more. It’s a unique approach to each situation, so be aware of the variables.
Final Inspection & Finish Work
Final inspection is an important part of the production process, and it shouldn’t be ignored. The Academy at Cambria team urges fabricators to dry fit miters and take one last look at the product prior to it leaving the shop. This ensures that you catch any imperfections, and you can perform any finish work prior to installation. Making this a required part of your production process increases the overall quality of your finished product.
Unique Applications: Challenge Accepted
So what happens when you get a project that requires applications you’ve never attempted before? Architects and designers can dream up things that often defy reality such as unique approaches to shower surrounds, backlighting, fireplaces, stair treads and risers, and more.
Cambria is here to help. Their team will provide technical assistance for digital templating, miter edge assembly and other unique applications. The Cambria website is a treasure trove of information including product guides, CAD/BIM design files, CSI guidelines and installation guides, just to name a few.
“Having the academy at Cambria is a collaborative learning experience between our partners and Cambria. This is important to us because we prioritize our partners,” added Kanz. “We are building a community around fabrication.”
Interested in the Academy at Cambria? Call (507) 931-3160 to speak with a member of the Academy team or visit www.cambriausa.com/professionals for more information.