Every morning 9 times out of 10 we look into a mirror or open the shower glass door, but do we really know how these pieces are actually made and installed?
Mike and Mark at Carolina Glass & Mirror in Garner, North Carolina recently showed me the process of cutting mirror. These guys have this process down to a science. Before the advancement of technology this process of cutting and fabricating a mirror use to take well over an hour, now it only takes roughly 15 minutes.
The mirror arrives on a truck and is stored in what is called a stoce rack, back in the day mirrors use to be stored in wood crates. Now the mirror industry is striving to be more environmentally friendly. From this stoce rack, workers are able to access the mirror easier with a cup and vacuum system. With this system one worker can easily navigate the mirror so it lays correctly on the CNC Cutting Table.
From there, the mirror is suspended on the CNC Cutting table by air which comes from these tiny holes within the table.
Once the mirror is on this table, it is ready to be scored, which is guided by a laser. A computer software program helps the workers determine the precise measurements and then the laser is ready to cut.
If there are several orders in production, the software program determines how each order can be utilized with the least amount of mirror wasted.
Once the computer configures the measurements and mirror is scored, we then go to what is called the “break out stage.” This is where Mark, cuts the excess away from each mirror.
Labels are put on each mirror and then they are ready for fabrication.
Depending on what the customer has specified a mirror can go to polishing or beveling machine and then to the hole drill machine.
If the client wants a plain mirror with no detailing, it heads straight to the polishing machine. If the client wants a bevel around the border of the mirror, it then heads to the beveling machine.
Within the beveling machine there are 4 diamond spindles and as the mirror passes each spindle, a layer is taken off the mirror. The end result is a beautiful frame around the entire mirror.
If the client has sconces going up then the mirror needs to accommodate the holes needed for the sconces. The “Hole Drilling” machine cuts a hole, in less than a minute using a diamond bit which comes up from the bottom and down from the top.
After the beveling and/or the drilling the mirror must go through the washing machine. This is the final stage of the process and one of the most important ones because if there are any imperfections, the light will shine through. You definitely do not want any imperfections!
Once this step is done, the mirror is wrapped up, labeled, and loaded onto a truck where it is taken to the job site.
We value the business partnership with Carolina Glass & Mirror and thoroughly enjoy working with them. They are a great team. Some of the more notable commercial projects Carolina Glass & Mirror has worked with are Marbles Kids Museum, The Umstead Hotel & Spa, The RBC Plaza, The Quorum Center, and Mez Restaurant in RTP.