Every so often we at Tower Industries like to take pause and focus on what we do and what makes our solid surface shower products unique. We have worked to build a business focused on creating top-quality surfacing products, all of which are custom-manufactured and fabricated in Massillon, Ohio. What sets Tower Industries apart from the competition? What makes our manufacturing process top notch? Ultimately, are we using the best products for our university or hospital customers and their bathroom renovation projects?
A big piece of the process involved in making a top-quality solid surface shower is “oven curing” or completing the polymerization of the product. Simply put, this manufacturing process assures that a chemical reaction turns a liquid into a solid, and then hardens the product to 100 percent completion, providing a 100 percent complete product that is ready to stand the test of time. Unfortunately, not everyone does this.
Let’s learn a bit more.
When it comes down to the basics, solid surface is basically dirt and glue. The material is a natural mineral, dug from the earth and then refined by a specialty mineral company. Tower Industries then mixes that material with a polymer resin and blends it under a vacuum to evacuate all of the air out of the mixture to then inject the substance into a mold.
We then inject a catalyst, or a “hardener,” used as a chemical initiator to start a reaction that turns the liquid into a solid. Similar to buying an epoxy from a hardware store; you need to add a hardener to complete the curing process. Mineral filler is added to a liquid polymer to give the material substance. With solid surface solutions, the polymer chain does not completely form until that “hardener” is entirely consumed into the solidifying or hardening process.
This chemical reaction does not fully complete without heat. If left to complete naturally, depending on where the product is stored, this reaction could take up to 30 days to complete. What we do is add heat to the product in an oven. We speed up the chemical reaction to fully complete the entire process and harden the material before the product leaves our facility. Essentially, by adding heat, or “baking” our product, we are taking the curing process one step further: we expedite the curing and complete the entire process.
Many other manufacturers do not utilize this post-curing process. They initiate the chemical reaction at “ambient” or room temperature and allow the product to cure on its own over time. If that product would happen to go to a colder warehouse, the material might not cure for a full 90 days or more. Unfortunately, the product could still be in the curing phase when sold, delivered, and installed in a person’s home or in a university or hospital shower environment. And if that product is installed somewhere with cooler temperatures, that curing process may even continue long after your shower begins being used.
So why doesn’t everyone do it the way Tower does? Well, post curing adds time and expense to the manufacturing process, which is why many competitors opt out of this step. On the other hand, we have thousands of feet of space dedicated to ovens, and we absorb the extra expense because we’re committed to providing a better product for our customers.
By utilizing the oven curing process that Tower Industries employs, free radicals are completely consumed in the polymerization process. This information is hugely important to the healthcare industry, as hospitals cannot tolerate any Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) to omit from materials. Our solid surface solutions have a NO VOC bleed, as our product is 100% cured before leaving the manufacturing plant.
Additionally, because Tower Industries’ ovens cure the product during the manufacturing process, the solid surface materials provide a stronger polymer bond, which gives our product a stronger performance in the installed state. Upon delivery, our products are at their strongest. Whereas with other manufacturers’ products, their materials might not be at their strongest point until 30, 60 or 90 days after installation.
The Load Test
Just how strong are Tower Industries solid surface showers? We took our solid surface shower base to a company in Maryland to test the load capacity. The company added weight to one of our shower bases to test it to failure, intending to add weight until the product met its breaking point.
Guess what happened? After the weight reached more than 78,000 pounds, the company turned off the machine and stopped the test, because they were afraid that their own machine would break. No other company is able to contend with this, as their products simply do not have the polymer strength. We often hear that competitors brag that their shower bases have been tested up to 1,000 pounds. Tower Industries’ shower base was tested up to 78,000 pounds, and the testing company turned off the machines!
Tower Industries takes the extra time and incurs the extra expense to manufacture a solid surface shower solution that is superior in the industry. By completing the curing process in house, we deliver a stronger product that will provide your project with the highest level of safety and security. The fact is, we “bake” our product in ovens because we consider this to be the right way to cure a product. So if the product you’re buying is only “half-baked”, is it really the best choice for your project?