Expertise brings Roman splendour to your home

01/28/04

Engineers help recreate glory of bygone age

The splendour of the Roman Empire could soon be recreated in 21st century homes thanks to a Welsh company and expertise at Cardiff University, UK.

Based in Port Talbot, South Wales, the company Mosaici has been formed to develop and market the idea of its managing director, Mr Geoff Thomas, to make Roman-style mosaic tiling accessible to modern householders.

Expertise and sophisticated technology in the University's Manufacturing Engineering Centre were harnessed to develop precise prototypes of the mosaic kit.

During his travels throughout the world over many years, Mr Thomas had long admired the mosaic-tiled floors and walls in the villas and sites of antiquity, which he visited during his spare time. He later attended an Italian mosaic school in Ravenna to learn the traditional art of creating mosaic motifs.

Though fascinated by the art form, he was also struck by the fact that the technique had not changed for 2,000 years or more. He felt sure it could be made easier and set his mind to the task.

The result soon to go on sale is a system for creating mosaic motifs and borders in your own home to decorate a bathroom, kitchen or conservatory.

"I was certain that mosaic decoration could be made easier and more affordable," he said. "I believed that some form of template in which to build the motif was the way forward."

Having further developed this idea, and backed by market research, he formed his company Mosaici with a colleague Mr Steve Thomas.

They then approached the multi-award-winning Manufacturing Engineering Centre (MEC) at Cardiff University with a view to producing a prototype kit. "We were thrilled with the prototypes produced by the MEC," explained Geoff Thomas.

"After months of having to describe the idea to interested parties, within a few days of our first meeting with the MEC we had tangible models of the motif and border templates and the receiver tray to demonstrate the process. It really was a big step forward for us".

Prototype templates for three motifs and three borders were built directly from 3-D CAD (computer-aided design) files using stereolithography (SLA) while the receiver tray, upon which each design is built up, was produced using the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) process.

Working with the MEC, which is part of the University's School of Engineering, also meant that Mosaici could benefit from Help Wales funding, which offered a 50% contribution towards the cost of the prototypes.

Mosaici will be launching its new product in hobby and craft stores and DIY outlets in both the United Kingdom and the USA in the next few months.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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