By Olivia Cahoon
Digital ceramic printing technologies enable direct printing to fragile materials like tile and glass. Markets like ceramic slab manufacturing look to digital printing as a means of expanding product portfolios in a range of design options.
Above: The I Naturali series is available in 1000×3000 and 1620×3240 mm in over 30 color options. 75 percent of Laminam’s ceramic slabs are digitally printed with the Creadigit by System Ceramics, allowing the manufacturer to use the same materials with a variety of design options.
Founded in 2001, Laminam specializes in the production of large-size, minimum-thickness ceramic slabs for architecture, design, interiors, and furnishings. As one of the first companies to fully industrialize the ceramic manufacturing process, its surfaces are produced with cutting-edge machinery created by System Group, Laminam’s parent company.
Headquartered in Fiorano, Italy, its main factory is joined by two new production sites set to triple capacity. The Borgotaro, Italy facility is dedicated to 1,620×3,240 millimeter (mm) slabs while its Russian location exclusively handles 1,000×3,000 mm slabs.
“Extremely light and with excellent material properties, these large-size, minimum-thickness ceramic slabs are the natural choice for applications in architecture and furnishings,” says Michele Perozzi, operations director, Laminam.
With a catalog of over 140 surfaces, Laminam offers options designed to satisfy all tastes and styles with soft, natural colors and ultra-modern industrial, three-dimensional (3D) textures. It houses showrooms in Italy, Poland, and Russia that present an overview of the company’s main ceramic lines and its uses.
With a consolidated turnover of nearly 85 million in 2017 and a growth trend of 30 percent, Laminam exports to Europe, the Far East, the Gulf States, North America, and Russia. Its products are distributed in all five continents. “Laminam boasts an extensive portfolio of projects created all over the world, and has established a number of important partnerships, in particular with Japanese-based TOTO Ltd.,” shares Perozzi.
With this partnership, Laminam offers an innovative photocatalytic treatment, HYDROTECT. Developed by TOTO, it provides air purifying and self-cleaning properties. Ceramic slabs treated with HYDROTECT become an eco-compatible product able to generate chemical and biological reactions, with positive effects in terms of antibacterial power, reduction of pollutants, and self-cleaning surfaces. The process requires no electricity, energy, or renewal of compounds to maintain the reaction over time.
Laminam exclusively produces large-size, minimum-thickness ceramic slabs in two sizes. Its 1,000×3,000 mm slabs are available in three and 5.6 mm thicknesses for floor and vertical wall applications. Designed for horizontal surfaces in design and furniture, the 1,620×3,240 mm slabs are produced with 5.6, 12, and 20 mm thicknesses.
“In addition to traditional building construction, especially for ventilated facades, our materials are used by furniture manufacturers to produce tables and kitchen worktops,” explains Perozzi.
Five years ago, Laminam began using digital printing technologies to improve the visual quality and the natural effect of its ceramic textures. “We also wanted to increase the graphic variability of our products and simplify the production cycle,” he adds.
The manufacturer opted for the Creadigit by System Ceramics, a division of System Group, for its high resolution, speed, and unique precision for complex graphics. With speeds up to 70 meters per minute, the Creadigit is a lineless digital ceramic printer with eight color bars. It features an integrated belt washer, dust suction system, and stainless steel structure for durability against humidity and chemical components.
With the Creadigit, Laminam uses organic inks produced by Italian ceramic paint manufacturers. Its digital printers are controlled by System Group’s proprietary software as well as Adobe Photoshop for image processing. The ceramic finishing process is limited, with only an added protective enamel coating applied after printing to maximize longevity.
75 percent of Laminam’s ceramic slabs are digitally printed, allowing the manufacturer to use the same materials with a variety of design options. Compared to traditional manufacturing techniques, digital technology helps the company save time during line preparation and finishing, resulting in lower costs.
According to Perozzi, “the wide selection of Laminam textures is really appreciated on the market, ranging from natural and soft colors to ultra-modern, industrial, and 3D surfaces.” From an aesthetic point of view, he believes digital technology amplifies ceramic textures and variability, especially for large surfaces. “Digital printing allows us to obtain amazing effects.”
Despite its success producing digitally printed ceramics, Laminam is well aware of the growing competition in the market. Nowadays, Perozzi says most companies produce ceramic slabs and tiles with digital printing. “The competition with the other brands is played out in aesthetics and quality of the products.”
In the last few years, Laminam observed growing demand for ceramic slabs that resemble natural surfaces such as marble, stone, and wood. Released in 2002, its I Naturali series explores this trend and is now the company’s bestseller.
“Its concept is a sort of virtual magnifying glass on the natural stone quarry that faithfully reproduces the technical essence and aesthetics of the surfaces from which it draws inspiration, revealing textures with high technological value,” shares Perozzi. “It is a unique collection that guarantees the same large-size outcome as the most commonly used natural materials.”
The I Naturali series is available in 1,000×3,000 and 1,620×3,240 mm in over 30 color options. Due to its extreme resistance and sophisticated style, the 1,000×3,000 mm slabs adapt to architecture and a variety of decorative interiors. The 1,620×3,240 mm size is designed for furnishing horizontal surfaces like table tops, kitchens, and bathroom worktops. “They offer a valid alternative to marble and stone materials, which entail steeper costs and a bigger environmental impact,” comments Perozzi.
Laminam ceramic slabs such as the I Naturali series consist of a natural material that’s 100 percent recyclable. The material is a result of sustainable technologies and a cutting-edge production process based on an exclusive compacting system for raw materials such as clay and feldspar.
With its HYDROTECT treatment, the I Naturali series is an ideal surface for contact with food. It’s often used to create kitchen counters and worktops due to its resistance against chemicals, deep abrasions, heat, fire, fungi, mildew, stains, and UV rays. “It acts as a hygienic antibacterial chopping board on which you can prepare food directly using knives, liquids, oils, wine, and hot pots and pans,” adds Perozzi.
Thanks to its technical performance, the series is also suitable for bathrooms, spas, or Turkish baths that require maximum hygiene and resistance. “The aesthetic virtues and large size offer a major artistic advantage, guaranteeing material continuity through the settings in sophisticated, natural shades,” comments Perozzi.
In addition to natural surfaces, Laminam also developed a ceramic portfolio in response to the increasing popularity for fabric and wallpaper. Designed to resemble silk, the Seta series is a line of large format porcelain panels available in five colors. It’s suitable for indoor applications including building sectors, interior design, shipbuilding, and structure panels.
“The Seta series represents the same shine of the oldest and finest fabrics to dress up indoor and outdoor environments in style and character,” offers Perozzi.
Laminam uses digital technology to create a diverse ceramic offering that meets clients’ demands for innovation and quality. With its Creadigit printer and HYDROTECT treatment, the manufacturer continues to produce durable, digitally printed ceramic slabs for architecture, interior design, and home furnishings.
Sep2018, Industrial Print Magazine