From mine to kitchen, here's how raw marble is processed

Here's the process behind the making of the beautiful material that is marble.
Christopher McFadden

Marble is a very beautiful building material. So much so, that it has been used in many buildings, large and small, for thousands of years.

It is still highly prized today, but the process of making it has come a very long way since antiquity. Using some highly sophisticated machines, and very powerful cutting and shaping machines, raw marble can be churned out to order in relatively short order today. 

Let's take a look behind the scenes of one Turkish marble processor.  

marble processing complete
Source: Interesting Engineering

Step 1: Slicing the raw marble

The first step is to obviously source some marble. Once either mined or delivered to the processing plant, the main production phase can commence. 

Raw marble blocks are then hoisted to the production line using specialist cranes. Since blocks of marble are incredibly heavy, this cannot realistically be completed using manpower alone. 

marble processing raw blocks
Source: Interesting Engineering

Using the crane, blocks of unprocessed marble are placed into a special cutting machine that cuts the marble into thin slabs. Water is used to help lubricate the cutting edges and carry away any waste marble bits and dust. 

marble processing cutting marble
Source: Interesting Engineering

Since marble is a fairly hard rock, the cutting process is slow but automated. It is also powered by very large reciprocating engines to give the cutting edge of the machine the power needed to slice through the marble blocks.

The process would be a lot slower and much harder if this had to be done by hand!

At all times, the marble is kept moist and held in place using a special frame to hold the slices of marble in place without falling and potentially shattering if they fell. 

marble processing slices
Source: Interesting Engineering

Step 2: Refining the marble slices

With the marble slices now ready, the next step is to refine their shape and form. A small pile of marble slices is laid on a workbench and excess or uneven parts of their cut edges are removed using a lubricated circular saw.

marble processing circular saw
Source: Interesting Engineering

Very little of the marble is actually wasted though, as the offcuts can be further cut down into small tiles or other marble pieces. Larger sheets are maneuvered from the cutting tables using specialists rigs to help workmen move them around the workshop with ease. 

marble processing rigs
Source: Interesting Engineering

Machines are also able to use these specially designed suction rigs to grab and move heavy pieces of marble to where they are needed. 

Step 3: Polishing and finishing

With the various marble pieces and slices now cut to size, the next phase of production can begin - polishing. Each piece of marble is placed on a special conveyor belt-equipped machine and dragged through to be mechanically polished.

Once out the other side, workmen apply a layer of lacquer to the marble to make them shine and bring out the texture of the marble. 

With that done, the marble pieces are now effectively ready to be shipped out. Since they are basically large stones, the marble sheets and pieces can be readily stored outdoors. 

marble processing sheets
Source: Interesting Engineering

Depending on the order from the customer, marble pieces can be further trimmed down and cut to order as needed. This is done using a variety of cutting machines that have already been used in the processing of marble. 

With all that done, prepared marble pieces are stacked and stored according to their size, weight, dimensions, and marble type. When orders are ready to ship, stacks of prepared marble are tied together and placed on wooden pallets ready for distribution by truck or train.

marble processing packaging
Source: Interesting Engineering

From there, the marble sections can be distributed to their new lucky owners! 

If you enjoyed watching this behind-the-scene video on marble production, you might be interested in seeing how other items are made? How about, for example, traditional parchment? 

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