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Water Jet Makes Precise Stone Cuts

Some examples of the intricate stonework designs the water-jet-cutting technology has created. More info and photos:

Visitors to the annual San Francisco Flower and Garden Show are on the hunt for the Next Big Thing. In April, they saw some striking stonework underfoot, the work of Mark Shepherd and his high-pressure, water-jet cutting system.

In "The Garden Puzzle," by the San Francisco design firm Organic Mechanics, Shepherd cut multihued Connecticut bluestone into precise-edged puzzle pieces that snuggled together to form the garden’s thematic floor. Here and there, a puzzle piece was "missing," only to be filled in with tiny ground cover plants, tumbled glass or colored rock.

In "A Jewel Box Garden," Shepherd fashioned the random-pattern floor of bluestone for designer Marcia Bloom of Menlo Park and landscaper Kevin Burns of Burlingame. He cut the intricate logo of the California Landscape Contractors Association display that included a slate maple leaf inset flush into a small sea of wavy-cut stone.

In "A Gesture of Balance," by San Francisco designer Ric Lopez of ModernPast, Shepherd cut a round mandala with a floral motif of several types of stone that created a lovely focal point. The piece had the look of something laboriously cut and painstakingly fitted together. Instead, it was designed on a computer, cut in Shepherd’s small San Carlos workshop and quickly assembled at the Cow Palace.

Shepherd, a landscape contractor, developed his innovative approach after years of installing hardscape the traditional way on residential and commercial jobs. He calls his business Current Cutting Technology.

"I thought there must be a better way than cutting stone on site with a wet saw," says Shepherd, 36. "There’s noise and dust and mess, and it takes forever."

The technology Shepherd is using is more commonly used for cutting steel in automobile and airplane manufacturing.

The puzzle pieces cut by Shepherd also got the attention of San Francisco resident JoLynne Lockley. She bought the garden floor right off the floor of the show to install in her landscape at home.

Source: San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News

New Cement Cleans Up

An Italian company has begun marketing a cement that is capable of absorbing pollution from vehicles. It has been installed at a number of places including Charles De Gaulle Airport in France.

Italcementi, which spent 10 years developing its TX Active, said the building material is capable of reducing urban pollution by more than 40 percent, the Italian news agency ANSA reported in April.

Tests on a road near Milan showed TX Active cut the level of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide by as much as 65 percent. It functions via a chemical process called photocatalysis, whereby sunlight triggers a chemical reaction when titanium dioxide on the surface of the cement comes into contact with pollutants in the air. TX Active works most effectively in bright sunlight.

Italcementi said test results have been verified by independent bodies like the National Research Council.

TX Active cement has already been used on a number of buildings, including Air France’s new headquarters at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport, Rome’s Drives in Misericordia church and Bordeaux’s Hotel de Police.

Source: United Press International.

PCA Expects a 16.2 Million Ton Increase Through 2010

Regions with a vibrant economic base dominate the location of plant expansions and the related escalation in private, commercial, and public infrastructure construction will require additional materials.

U.S. cement companies are currently engaged in an aggressive $3.6 billion expansion that will increase clinker capacity by 16.2 million metric tons by the year 2010. According to a report issued by the economic research department of Portland Cement Association this represents a 17.3 percent increase in capacity compared to 2005 levels. Based on announced and permitted plans, the growth includes a mix of greenfield sites--including a 3.9 million ton plant in Missouri--modernizations, and expansions of existing facilities. "The United States construction industry is ready to digest this large increase in capacity," said Ed Sullivan, chief economist for PCA. For example, the Mountain region with the rapidly growing populations of Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado accounts for 26 percent of total capacity expansions. The Central region of the United States is expected to have the largest number of capacity expansions, 37 percent of planned increases. The Mississippi River allows plants in this area to access a broad market. For more information,

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December 14, 2019, 7:57 am PDT

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