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Infection Control and Prevention Using Solid Surfaces in Healthcare FacilitiesAccording to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) approximately one in 25 hospital patients acquire at least one infection during their stay. These findings are alarming and have triggered an urgency to address the issues surrounding patient acquired infections. Facilities managers and infection control practitioners (ICPs) are aware of how bacteria and mold grow in and on horizontal and vertical surfaces. It wasn’t until recently that sinks, countertops and wall cladding were studied as potential sites for the spread of disease.

Plastic laminate finishes on healthcare casework and wall cladding have seams and exposed edges that can harbor bacteria. Laminate is actually compressed paper; while it is dense and may appear to be non-absorbent, it is porous and will absorb moisture over time. If caulking around a sink or other seam location deteriorates, water will penetrate into the laminate and the substrate below. The substrate is usually wood or particle board. Wet wood will harbor bacteria, especially Aspergillus fungi.

A solution to these problems can be found by utilizing solid surface which inherently inhibits bacterial growth. By creating a seamless, nonporous surface where pathogens can’t grow, solid surface can help with control issues and maintenance. Solid surfaces such as Corian, Avonite, LG or Krion can survive the impacts, nicks and cuts that ruin most wall surfaces. It is renewable, repairable and reusable. If the solid surface is damaged it can be repaired onsite, saving labor costs and resources. While warranties may vary from manufacturers, some will guarantee the material for as long a ten years.

Solid surfaces have proven superior performance in healthcare applications such as wall cladding, casework, countertops and more. Let us ASsiST you protecting the health of others with our custom solid surface fabrication. Contact us today for a quote.


5-Axis CNC MachiningSolid Surface design and fabrication has changed dramatically within the last 25+ years. Architects and Designers today are creating radical designs that include a wide variety of complex geometric forms. Have you ever had an idea for a 3D design in solid surface but decided not to go ahead with it because it was too complex?

The problem has been how to take a 3D design drawing and translate it to a solid surface 3D form. In the past, creating molds and parts with hand and/or power tools would have been cost prohibitive to fabricate. Today, 5-axis machining solves all of these issues, reduces lead times and increases efficiency.

So what is 5-axis CNC machining? The term refers to the ability of the machine to move the bit in five different axes at the same time. 5-axis machines can rotate on additional axes which allows the bit to cut the materials from all directions with no limits. Software programs are utilized to create the 3D models necessary for the CNC machine to cut the required parts.

ASST has an amazing 5-axis CNC router with a 5’x10’ table. Our talented team uses this technology to create 3 dimensional molds for thermoforming solid surface and cutting repetitive complex 3D parts with solid surface materials. Reintroducing thermoformed parts to the 5-axis and final sizing allows very complex shapes to be recreated. This is done at a level of precision that is uncommon in commercial construction. The project process is completed with final hand assembly, finishing and/or shipping and installation to the designer’s desired specification.

Take off the constraints of solid surface in two dimensions. We Go Beyond Surface Level Solutions even in our manufacturing processes. Contact ASST for all of your 3 dimensional solid surface needs.


Susquehenna Health hallway wall panelsToday, healthcare designers have “raised the bar” with regards to design. The use of textured solid surface for wall protection is becoming a popular choice with many health systems. More hospitable than hospital. Controlling the spread of infectious disease with solid surface countertops has become the standard in healthcare. Vertical textured solid surface applications are also a smart way to incorporate a unique aesthetic that is durable, attractive and easy to maintain.

The installation of textured solid surface panels can be challenging. Mounting alignments for patterns can be difficult, especially around corners. The reverse textured sides of panels do not have a level surface to mount against a wall. To solve these issues we created a proprietary solid surface “leveling puck” and mounted z-clip system which allows for precise adjustments in the field. Panel patterns are able to be aligned with ease and installed according to architect specifications.

To learn more about our innovative Sculptcor® textured wall panel system, visit www.asst.com and click on the products tab. Cut sheets are available for download. Autodesk Revit files are also available upon request. Call us today with your next healthcare project. 717.630.1251 x305


At some point in your childhood your parents probably told you “to sit up straight” or “don’t slouch”. Although these are well-intentioned instructions, our spines are anything but straight even at birth.

Newborns are in a “Primary Curve” C-shaped fetal position upon birth and for the first few months of life they do not yet have the muscles to support their head. Research has shown that keeping an infant’s spine straight is not a sound physiological position and in addition to stressing the baby’s spine it can also negatively influence the development of a baby’s hip joints. (Dr. Evelin Kirkilionis, University of Freiburg, 2002)

Ergonomics is the study of designing equipment that conforms to the human body and its movements. Although there has been much written about adult ergonomics, there has been little innovation and/or product development addressing ergonomic solutions for newborns.

ASST first became aware of the need for an innovative baby bathing bowl solution while working with the labor & delivery team at St. Joseph Medical Center in Baltimore. The nursing staff had become frustrated with the bathing bowl that had been recommended for a new project at the hospital. In response to the St. Joseph nursing team’s request, ASST began the design development for an ergonomic baby bowl. The new bowl design needed both a sloped bottom that conformed to the C-shaped spinal curvature of a newborns body as well as be fabricated in seamless solid surface. With the creation of several baby sink mockups, the teams collaboratively worked to test and critique the final design. The final result was the Cradle Baby Bowl ® that supports both a newborn’s head and back during bathing. The seamless connection between the bowl and the adjacent solid surface counter also eliminated corners that could pose an infection risk during bathing. A design that is a true blend of both form and function, the Cradle Baby Bowl ® has to date been installed in hundreds of leading edge health facilities and daycare centers throughout North America, Australia and Africa.

The Cradle Baby Bowl ® is fabricated in all brands of solid surface. Call us today at 717-630-1251 x 305 for a competitive price quote! To see more of the exceptional products we manufacture please see our Products page.


Cover of ISFA Countertops and Architectural Surfaces Magazine featuring ASST's thermoformed spiral staircase project
Photo of complex thermoformed spiral staircase fabricated by ASST

Photo by Chuck Choi Architectural Photography – click to enlarge

A Project WIth a Twist

Fabricator conquers complex commercial construction of KRION® solid surface stairway

By Andrew Dreves, ASID

Spiral staircases are certainly nothing new but fabricating an enormous one in solid surface with compound angles, well that is new. And that’s exactly the project that renowned architectural firm Payette had in mind for an atrium in the building that would connect both 75 and 125 Binney Street, in the heart of Boston, that when completed would be the home of Ariad Pharmaceuticals.

The design for the monumental stairs was inspired by the red spiraling spool of thread depicted in the Ariad Pharmaceuticals logo. However, the design was highly complex with two surface planes meeting along a rising curve (see Figure 1). The difficulty of fabricating the project was nearly as massive as the project itself, so much so that most fabricators wouldn’t even attempt it. However, Payette already knew a company that would be likely to take on the challenge.

Figure 1

Figure 1 – click to enlarge

The Architectural Firm

Payette was no stranger to complex projects. Although it is based in Boston, it has completed advanced architectural projects around the world.

The firm was originally most well known for the many hospital and healthcare facilities it designed centered on enhancing patient experiences. It created architecture with an intimate connection to the landscape coupled with an abundant use of color and natural light to help orient patients and visitors. Through the promotion of the same humanistic values and fundamental design approach, over time the firm broadened its focus to include high-technology buildings, bringing deep technical expertise, commitment to rigorous research and
dedication to beauty to a new class of projects. Today, the practice has advanced as an international architectural thought leader, providing planning and design services to leading institutions across the country and abroad.

And it is that reputation that led to Payette being selected to work on this project. Similarly, the high regard that fabrication company ASST, based in south central Pennsylvania, was held in based on the positive outcome of the previous work it had performed with Payette, was the motivating factor to bringing the fabricator onboard for this difficult project. ASST had previously worked with Payette on the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital and so the architect was familiar with the well-developed thermoforming capabilities ASST possessed. While other fabricators were invited to bid on the project, ultimately it didn’t necessarily come down to price, but rather ASST was selected because of its thermoforming experience and clean safety record combined with its ability to provide an adequate bonding on a large complicated project such as this to reduce owner and general contractor risk.

The Fabricator

So who was this fabricator daring enough to take on such a difficult project? If you ask anyone familiar with ASST, they likely won’t be surprised that the company stepped up to the plate. ASST is an award-winning specialty surfaces fabricator and manufacturer. As an industry leader, it specializes in complex fabrications and complete Division 6 millwork and casework solutions for the healthcare industry.

However, its work spans a variety of markets beyond healthcare, such as the education, retail and corporate/public space arenas. Known for its innovative (and patented) thermoforming technologies and product designs, ASST takes on project challenges others avoid. It brings to the table a passion for excellence — to go beyond and to build what some initially thought was impossible. Since its founding in 1998, ASST has developed an impressive portfolio of successfully completed projects with high-profile contractors, architects, interior designers and end users.

The company’s headquarters encompass 52,000 sq. ft. and includes both offices and fabrication facilities, including a very large thermoforming workshop. Among the equipment at the disposal of the 31 employees of the company are three thermoforming ovens and two vacuum tables, as well as a 60-ton proprietary press and a vacuum press related to patented ASST technologies. It also has three CNC machines: one 5-axis KOMO CNC machine, one 3-axis KOMO CNC machine and one 3-axis Heian CNC machine. For cutting parts the company also has a Schelling panel saw. The shop is set up into typical “line work” areas for more common flat fabrication work, but also has various open workshop areas for custom projects.

It seems ASST was custom-made for this highly custom project. But once they had been selected for the work, the venture had to be realized.

The Process

The architectural team underwent many design variations, but the main design intent was for the stair to appear to be fabricated from continuous solid surface.

The Porcelanosa Group’s Krion solid surface material, a relative newcomer to the U.S. solid surface market, was chosen by the architects because of its excellent thermoforming capabilities. According to the manufacturer, Krion is a “new generation of solid surface” and has a unique proprietary blend of approximately 75 percent ATH to 25 percent resin. This makes the material easier to thermoform, according to the company, and also best ensures color consistency throughout each sheet. Of course, each manufacturer touts a variety of properties that make it stand out from the rest, but as we all know, beauty (or in this case thermoformability) is in the eye of the beholder.

One of the main complexities of the project, beyond its size, was a result of the stairs having two curved and rising surface planes with cut angles that, by nature, constantly changed as the material pieces were routed to the correct dimensions. So, before any actual fabrication work could be done, modeling was required. Once an initial design was put together, a mockup of one landing was built in the ASST shop to verify the geometry (see Figure 2). Once it was created, the design could then be tweaked according to the architects input, with regard to the lighting and tread termination locations, etc.

Figure 2

Figure 2 – click to enlarge

 

Figure 3

Figure 3 – click to enlarge

To improve the flow of information between the fabricators and architect, a co-location work arrangement was established on-site in Boston to speed up the final design process and to improve communication among team members. With everyone working in one location for two weeks, design revisions were realized faster and coordinated across disciplines (see Figure 3). The group utilized 3-D modeling extensively when it came to determining the aspects of the steel substructure, built by DeAngelis Iron Work, for the plywood support ribs (see Figure 4). When all was said and done, 80 hours of design work were required.

 

Figure 4

Figure 4 – click to enlarge

 

Then came the 2,000 hours of fabrication, which included 196 hours of CNC programming and run-time on the 5-axis KOMO machine. And once all of the parts were fabricated, glued up and sanded, the panels were numbered, labeled and prepared for shipping to the site in Boston for assembly. Unfortunately, though, this wasn’t the end of the challenges involved in the project. As is the case with Northeastern winters, Boston was hit by weekly blizzards during installation. The extreme cold temperatures delayed the schedule by four weeks, and Boston officials even declared a state of emergency at one point with mandatory traffic shutdowns preventing deliveries to the site.

In spite of the challenges and compressed schedule, in the end 215 sheets of ½-in.-thick Krion solid surface in “Fire Red” and “Snow White” were installed using z-clips and the project was completed (see Figure 5). The final result is nothing short of an amazing accomplishment for all involved, and is another spectacular project for Payette and ASST to proudly hang their hats on. The author would like to offer special thanks to Payette’s Gordon Grisinger and Hillary Barlow for their design vision, steel fabricator DeAngelis Iron Work and ASST’s team (in no particular order): Nick Buckley, Josh Cowden, Brian Magness, Bob Hannigan, Mike Henry, Jared Shearer, John Sulc and the entire ASST production team.

Figure 5

Figure 5 – click to enlarge

About the Author

Andrew Dreves, ASID, is the director of marketing and Products Workshop for ASST, 350 South St., McSherrystown, PA 17344; www.asst.com. He is responsible for strategic business development, marketing, branding and product design initiatives for the company and can be reached by email at andrewdreves@asst.com or by phone at (717) 630-1251 ext. 305.


We are pleased to announce that A.S.S.T. has been named the 2014 Fabricator of the Year by the International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA) in Atlanta yesterday.  Every year ISFA recognizes a fabricator for outstanding contributions made to the surfacing industry and having an in-depth work portfolio.

It takes a talented team to be recognized for an award like this and we have a terrific team here at A.S.S.T. that is Going Beyond™ every day and making great things happen!



A.S.S.T. President Russ Berry accepts ISFA's Innovator award.

A.S.S.T. President Russ Berry accepts ISFA’s Innovator award.

ASST President Russ Berry (pictured on right) accepting the Innovator Award at the 2013 International Solid Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA) Conference in Orlando, Florida. The Innovator Award is presented to the fabricator member firm or individual who goes outside the box and creates a product or system that enhances the life of the decorative surface fabricator.


Reception desk design trends

Reception desks are a hub of activity for most businesses. This is often the first interaction a current or potential customer has with a company and will likely contribute to his or her first impression of the organization. As a result, it is crucial that the front desk demonstrate the organizational skills and dedication to great customer service found at a business. To do this, the right combination of materials and design trends can be used. 

Hidden workspaces create streamlined reception desks
Too often, stacks of paper, appointment books, technology and coffee cups can stack up on a reception desk. Therefore, it's important to create a workspace that hides these typical workspace attributes without blocking an administrator or secretary's face from a customer's view. This means that the partition or scale of the desk should be high enough to create a barrier so all of these items are hidden from view, but not so high that the reception desk creates an impersonal space. According to the HOUZZ.com front desk trend's page, creating a shelf that overhangs the desk will block most people from looking directly at a potential eye sore, while providing them somewhere to use as a flat surface to write appointments down or use as a ledge to dig through a purse. 

Create an engaging space
What type of office is this reception desk serving? The interior design of a front desk can provide a potential or current customer with a more concrete opinion about the brand of a company. For example, a pediatrician's office may want to use bright primary colors to accent key features and attract the attention of children. In contrast, a law firm may find it better to use more modern earth tones and textured materials that give off a more serious vibe. 

Using strong, versatile materials
By using the right combination of materials, a reception desk can better demonstrate the personality of a brand and allow a company to artfully handle clients as they walk through the front door. At ASST, we understand the reception desk needs of a company. What may seem like a trivial detail in the greater scheme of an office design is actually a crucial component for ensuring customers are treated well and business is handled in a productive manner. 

SCULPTCOR® by ASST is a thermoformed architectural wall panel system that has already proven successful in a number of corporate environments. The wall panels are available in three standards patterns: Twist, wave and smooth, and in five standard colors, including: Pure white, cream, warm white, frozen white and white lotus. It is the ideal solution for crafting the ideal reception desk workspace. 


The development of patient room design is demonstrating the power of the creative process and how contractors and medical professionals are trying to make an adaptive space that will serve future needs. Building Design + Construction reported that the boom in outpatient facility construction is not slowing down any time soon and the spaces are becoming increasingly complex.

"In the early 1990s, outpatient care accounted for only 10 to 15 percent of hospital revenue; today, it's closer to 60 percent," said Patrick Duke, Senior Vice President with KLMK Group, Richmond, Va. "It's a shift that's been happening across the board, sweeping along academic medical centers, community hospitals, for-profit chains, and not-for-profit providers alike. And it's showing no sign of slowing, especially with advancements in care and changing reimbursement patterns." 

Medical groups and hospitals are demanding spaces that are adaptive with changing needs in the healthcare field. 

Inclusion of family accommodations
Hospitals are beginning to create family accommodation spaces so that patients may have the people that really matter near them. Many hospitals are beginning to look at family as a crucial part of the healing process, which is why family accommodations are necessary. This means that features like family sleeping areas, built-in entertainment features and work stations with internet access. A family accommodation area is not possible for every suite, but for extensive hospital stays, medical practices may want to consider this as an option. 

Quality materials adapt to changing healthcare needs
ASST offers quality material solutions that are designed to meet the needs of a healthcare facility. Adaptive, functional and durable solutions are crucial to fit the needs of a medical practice. From the restrooms to the lobbies, ASST offers comprehensive material solutions that meet federal and state regulations, as well as industry standards. Listed below are a few of the design solutions ASST offers to  healthcare clients:

• Full package Division 6 casework (available in a variety of materials)
• OR paneling
• Trespa™ wall panels
• Toilet partitions
• SCULPTCOR®  wall panel system (with hard seam joints)
• Modular Vanity™ System
• MatchLine™ Stainless Sinks
• Cradle™ Baby Bowl

ASST offers a comprehensive listing of quality solutions for healthcare facilities. If you're looking for more information, visit www.asst.com or contact ASST architectural support 717.630.1251 x305.