Technology does not only imitate the processes of nature; it can sometimes even accelerate and improve them. A case in point is Dekton, a product launched by Cosentino in 2013 after six years of R&D and huge investment. It stems from the innovative Sinterized Particle Technology, an accelerated version of the metamorphic change that natural stone undergoes when subjected to very high temperature and pressure in the course of thousands of years. The result is a high-performance material – ultra-compact and resistant – that lends itself to an unlimited array of design configurations and is sold in huge boards (3.20 x 1.44 meters and 8–20 millimeters thick), with a wide range of architectural applications._x005F_x000D_ More than the usual closed or standardized product, Dekton is an open design platform that allows one to select, from a certain range of orders, the exact properties and finishes desired in the material, thanks to a complex hybridization of different technologies – of glass, stone agglomerates, and porcelain products – that capitalizes on the advantages of each one to give the product excellent mechanical features, very low porosity, and low thermal expansion coefficients besides resistance to chemical agents, abrasion, thermal shock, and ultraviolet light. And all this with great versatility of textures and finishes.
More than in any other material, here it is the manufacturing process that gives Dekton its extraordinary properties. What is most special about it is how it involves an altogether new way of conceiving production, with design questions considered from the earliest stages of the process. Broadly speaking, the idea is to design the particles of the product with the shape, size, and color needed to compose them in a specific design matrix that opens up infinite new possibilities for architects._x005F_x000D_ The process begins with the gathering of raw materials, which are stored separately to avoid contamination and subjected to exhaustive quality control. When they are ready, they are purified, and a wet-grinding phase ensues in which they are mixed in given proportions and ground to the desired particle sizes. This is where the actual design of the final product begins, given that the size of the granule conditions both the rate of chemical reaction giving rise to Dekton and its final properties.
Once the raw materials are ground, the process of designing the particles continues with the coloring stage – using only inorganic pigments – and the atomizing stage, one of the most important parts of fabrication, through which the Dekton formula, now colored, is dried until the granule takes on the shape and size desired. Once it is deposited in separate silos, the powder obtained through atomization is put through decoration systems where the granules or particles of the material are carefully placed in different parts of a conveyor belt, forming a continuous board decorated with effects that can affect both its surface and its thickness. Thanks to the sixteen decoration systems available, which can work separately, simultaneously, or in groups, after the first phase of the production process the final finish of the product is already defined, always with a high degree of versatility in design.
The manufacture of Dekton continues with the shaping of the material. The smooth decorated board is cut into pieces that at the end of the process will lead to the commercial format. The molding involves ultra-compacting the boards at very high pressure with a press that can take 25,000 tons; a one-of-a-kind machine owing as much to its compression capacity as to its dimensions. The compression can maximize elimination of the gaps between colored granules, speeding up subsequent chemical reactions and giving the boards sufficient consistency for the next phase. The process ends with a high-temperature treatment that chemically transforms the different colored granules through closely controlled synthesis routes giving the boards their final physical, chemical, and aesthetic properties._x005F_x000D_ In the way pressures and temperatures are applied to the base materials, the sinterization procedure followed in Dekton imitates the processes by which metamorphic rock is formed, but with ‘fabrication’ periods shortened from thousands of years to just a few hours, giving rise to a highly resistant and compact material whose properties – in particular its color – stays unaltered even in aggressive environments. Hence the innumerable architectural applications of Dekton, so suited for decorative cladding not only in floors and stairs, but also in interior walls and ventilated facades. All told, the primary attribute of Dekton is its open nature, its being a technological platform with the potential to address very varied design demands, as well as to allow the development, in the near future, of materials with unprecedented and surprising properties and finishes._x005F_x000D_