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Markets: 3-D-tool for sale

(April 2009) Interested in a new car? The object of your desires is but a mouse-click away. The technology allowing you to shop in a virtual atmosphere has extended to the stone branch. The Italian company Bruno Zanet, more precisely its Brazilian subsidiary, in cooperation with Designer Ludson Zampirolli has developed software allowing users to furbish rooms with stone. The innovation was first presented last fall at the 2008 fair in Verona and again in Vitória, Brazil this February.

The principle behind the technology is simple: the computer offers simulations for kitchens, etc, in which elements like tables and countertops are virtually interchangeable. Thus users can chose between several types of stone, suitable flooring and matching or contrasting colours for the cupboards.

As in the auto industry, this is a sales tool „to help architects wet their clients‘ appetite for natural stone“, to liberally quote the Brazilian Zampirolli. Clients and Architects should play with the possibilities and find favour with the material.

Presently, over 30 types of stone make up the pallet, but the possibilities are virtually unlimited. Testing the variations on the designer’s homepage is but a fraction of the software’s possibilities. Things begin to get really exciting when working on special projects.

For example: the architect and the builder have jointly decided on an Open-Book-floor-covering. The information is sent in form of CAD to the designer, who, in turn, „can present various working models within 48 hours“ (Zampirolli).

This is where the numerous other possibilities the programme offers unfolds its full potential: once a particular Open-Book has been chosen, the information can easily be conveyed to the producer where the slabs are cut, thus minimizing waste.

The programme also lends itself to Just-In-Time-Production: dealers would no-longer need to keep material in stock. Once an order comes in, the product is cut directly out of the stone at the quarry. This may sound futuristic but elsewhere technology is being developed which might be used in such implementation.

Zampirolli’s 360° panorama view is also futuristic, by means of which the architect and builder can secure a view of the draft in any angle. The layman may consider this to be exaggerated dalliance, but it is not: high-gloss dark stone flooring, e.g., would convey the feeling of walking on mirrors – an unpleasant experience, which would become apparent in the model.

The 360° perspective would allow full deployment of the tool. But even at its current level the programme is more than a mere plaything: „the vendor can visualize, i.e. show the material and what it would look like once installed“ according to Zampirolli.

Even today the program allows designers and architects to adapt to the needs of their clients. Some of Zampirolli’s dummy-kitchens have two sinks – an important element in the kosher kitchen, where certain foodstuffs must not come into contact with others.

Difficult questions regarding standards

One aspect is problematic: of course Bruno Zanet’s software should only be loaded with stone sold by Zanet. On the other hand, this would lead to software explosion, which, in turn, would be impractical for the architect.

So the question is, should there not be a common basic 3-D-progamme for all dealers to use. This could be the job of the trade association. Some branches have already paved the way by setting up norms, useful for all – they are called „standards“.

Bruno Zanet

Ludson Zampirolli