Developing New Products Via the Waterjet Process

Stone - May, 15, 2000

By Randy Stertmeyer

The Space Mirror

development of new waterjet cut decorative flooring products:

  • A detailed look should be taken at the overall flooring marketplace in the U.S. in terms of both dollars and square feet. What you'll discover is a strong demand for more decorative designs in some of the more popular natural stone materials.
  • Next, the overall growth of the stone market and the buying habits of the end-user, both commercial and residential, should be studied.
  • Manufacturers, distributors, contractors, mass merchandisers, architects and designers must then be contacted in order to determine the type of products each of these important groups deem appropriate in the current marketplace. These same groups must also be polled regarding pricing.
  • Based upon the above-mentioned steps, one must then be able to gauge the proper parameters for product design.

Continued

Stone is the most ancient, enduring and endearing building product known to man. Many of the ways natural stone has been used since the beginning of what might be referred to as "intelligent construction" are still being used today. To satisfy overall curiosity and the need for change, which is often demanded by end-users, the stone industry continues to seek new and exciting ways to bring stone products to market. In recent years, for example, we've all seen natural stone tiles and slabs with various surface treatments; larger sized, perfectly calibrated stone tiles; mesh-mounted tumbled stone mosaics, thinly calibrated materials more appropriate for vertical applications, both interior and exterior; and, waterjet technology, which allows for the most creative and precise designs imaginable in natural stone, sometimes combined with other materials such as metal, glass and wood.

The waterjet process opens up a whole new dimension for stone products. A visit today to an updated natural stone showroom is guaranteed to yield an array of decorative products. The most popular are designs combining multiple colors of natural stone offered in medallions and listelli. For a softer, more subtle look, combining different shades of similar stones is currently fashionable.

Add to this trend the precise detail available through waterjet technology and the results are some of the most beautiful elegant surfacing products ever seen. Current waterjet technology allows for swirls, radiuses, ovals, ogees and minute components never before available. Thus, there is no reason why the most ornate medallion and border designs cannot be made available as standardized products, provided, of course, that they are cost-effective to manufacture and distribute.

In the last decade, most waterjet producers in this country have focused their work on custom projects. Therefore, to bring waterjet-cut standardized materials to market is a departure from the norm. In order to analyze the opportunity and eventually develop a program, it is necessary to revisit the very basics of "Marketing 101." Here are the recommended steps to be taken in the