1- A brief history of zinc bar tops.

Zinc is the 24th most abundant element in earth’s crust and one of the easier metals to mine. People now mine zinc from Sphalerite, a mineral discovered in 1850, but they have been using small amounts for ages. Australia, Canada, the US, and China have lots of material underground, and we won’t run out of ore to mine soon.

Common Uses

Zinc rolls into sheets or draws into wire, and its soft, ductile qualities make it easy to mold.

People commonly use zinc to protect steel from damage in tough outdoor conditions, like in the galvanization process.

Recycling it in pure form easily reduces our future dependency on new mining sources.

19th Century History of Zinc Bar Tops

Bistros first began in France and likely developed out of the basement kitchens of Parisian apartments where tenants paid for both room and board. Businesses offered affordable food and drinks in a simple establishment, initially for their tenants and later for more travelers.

Over time, people started calling these bistros or cafes “Les Zincs” because of their beautiful metal counters. Roofers made the counters using the same materials and techniques used to prevent water from entering buildings. The first bars made with pewter and owners cleaned them with corks bound together with string- the first iterations of Scotch-Brite pads!

One company, which is still in operation today, started fabricating these bars in France in the 1930s.

20th Century History of Zinc Bar Tops

After WWII, HVAC shops in the US started making basic sheet metal tops. The first tops they made were simple, with straight edges or soldered seams out of zinc countertop sheet. This continued into the 1990s, serving a small, niche market.

In the late 1900s, companies began using a deposition technology developed in WW2 to create custom zinc countertops. The film industry originally used it to add decorative coatings for set props.

This new construction had many advantages. It could create more intricate shapes than sheet metal brake form edges. It also made tops that looked like the original bistro edges, but on a larger production scale.

Many companies have tried this technique, but most failed, while searching for a new way to make complex edges like their French counterparts.

Makers tried using metal flakes in resin to imitate French bistros, a process called “Cold Casting”, but this also failed to work well.

The 21st Century

French manufacturers continue to produce small bistro tops in the same way they did more than 100 years ago. In contrast, American markets are utilizing sheet metal to manufacture soldered brake form products. Some in the American market are also attempting to comprehend the capabilities of a new deposition process. The industry is ripe for new products with these attributes:

  • Exceptional Quality
  • Complex and Interesting Geometry Never Possible
  • A Larger Variety of Metal Choices and Alloys
  • Grander Scale with Larger Quantities
  • Rapid and Responsive Project Turnaround

3 Spark Uses Historical Advantage

Technological advances and demand for unique materials are leading to an industry revolution. Smart manufacturers like 3 Spark are exploring new possibilities as the pace of the ever-changing market quickens with advancements in 3D printing for smaller consumer items.

The introduction of 3D printing has hastened the expectation for all forms of manufacture to increase. With the ability to print materials like stainless steel and titanium, manufacturers now have the freedom and the expectation to experiment with new materials and techniques. This not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of the products but also improves their durability and functionality.

At 3 Spark, we work to improve and push these limits everyday.

As the industry embraces new deposition processes, the possibilities for innovation are endless. Designers can now make special metal items, like furniture and custom accents, that are interesting and different from competitors. Advanced shapes, increased metal choices, and faster completion have brought a thrilling new era to metal fabrication, and we here at 3 Spark Design welcome these advances.

Living metal countertop fabrication’s future is promising, combining imagination and technology to create extraordinary art in zinc, brass, and copper. Contact us today to learn more about our possibilities.

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