During the international Cersaie fair, SACMI Labs opened their doors to visitors. Taking center-stage were the latest digital forming and decoration solutions, perfect for making ultra-original, high-added-value products. There was also a sharp focus on sustainability in the form of advanced research into 100% green hydrogen/electric kilns
Over 500 attendees from 115 delegations and 35 countries: this was SACMI Open Week, recently held in concomitance with the international Cersaie fair. From 26 September to 3 October the delegations visited SACMI’s research and innovation facilities: the Ceramic Laboratory in Imola and the Digital Lab and Kiln Lab in Salvaterra di Casalgrande. What’s more, BMR and the Stylgraph showroom, which partners with SACMI to track the latest design trends, also gave visitors a warm welcome.
New slab and furnishing accessory technologies
The technology on show focused on exploring new applications and functions for ceramic products, giving customers the tools needed to break into extremely high-added-value market segments. At the Imola Ceramic Lab, for example, the star of the show was the latest range of feeders installed on the Continua+ line.
The latter let manufacturers replicate, in both the body and on the surface of the tile, the aesthetics of marble, wood, stone or and other natural materials. The result: the ability to penetrate the living, outdoor and furniture sectors with innovative products that take ceramic far beyond its traditional roles to make it a beautiful kitchen worktop, a table, a furnishing accessory... and much more.
Such solutions further enhance the versatility of Continua+, the world’s leading slab-making technology with 170 solutions already sold and many more in the pipeline. Visitors to the Imola Lab had a unique opportunity to see live demonstrations in which slabs with through-veins were made before their eyes via a digitally synchronized process that spans from on-belt powder release to decoration.
“The key message we wanted to convey with this edition of the event”, observes Paolo Mongardi, President of SACMI, “is SACMI's ability to help customers create never-before-seen products and then provide them with all the technology needed to manufacture them. For companies operating in high-end segments, it’s increasingly important for them to know how to think up new products and extend, on the one hand, traditional ceramic application areas while, on the other, taking up the challenge of sustainability. From this perspective, we’re able to draw on an unrivalled global leadership: we were delighted to have so many people attend the event, a clear indicator of the huge customer interest in the proposed innovations”.
Digital Lab: 100% hydrogen/electric kilns
Each day of the event, the demos alternated between Imola and Salvaterra di Casalgrande. The latter is home to the Digital Lab, a pilot line dedicated to SACMI Deep Digital, DHD and DDG technologies: applications which - whether stand-alone or in synergy with forming - respond to a burgeoning need to give ceramic products material and depth effects that stretch far beyond standard surface decoration concepts. Similarly, at both the BMR site and in nearby Scandiano, the doors were flung open to illustrate 4.0 innovations for the entire finishing segment (grinding, lapping, cutting and polishing), solutions based on vision inspection and process control systems.
Back in Salvaterra, at the SACMI Forni & Filters Kiln Lab, delegations got a first-hand look at the most advanced aspects of SACMI's decarbonization research. One of the first companies in Italy to equip itself with a green hydrogen production station, SACMI is developing a new kiln prototype capable of running on 100% hydrogen and, in parallel, is developing a new ‘fully electric’ kiln. A future that’s already here today, as SACMI customers can install new ‘zero fuel’ solutions which, thanks to heat recovery from the kiln, allow entire machines/departments (e.g. the dryer) to operate fuel-free. Alternatively, the new ‘Maestro’ digital kilns can already run on gas-hydrogen fuel mixtures with up to 50% hydrogen.
From product development and design to new customer services
What makes SACMI so unique is its ability to act as an all-round consultant for both process and product. An approach that became even more relevant in 2023 with the decision to include a visit to the Stylgraph gallery - which works alongside SACMI to identify new design trends - as part of Ceramic Innovation Week.
From this perspective, then, SACMI Open Week was also a great opportunity to show customers the latest assistance services: from SACMI Smart Secure & Service maintenance plans to the latest digital services available via the S.P.A.C.E. portal/app and, last but not least, the vast world of revamping, a crucial area for a company that has the world’s largest installed pool of ceramic machines and plants.