Creative Carvings That Wow Clients
Corint Industries, LLC shapes materials into masterpieces
When Corint Industries, LLC Owner Nicu Iacobescu flips on the light switch in his shop in the morning, he is greeted by his hardest working employees: two computer numerical control (CNC) router machines. Even though they aren’t humans,” Nicu says, “they do most of the work.”
The family-owned business, located in St. Petersburg, Florida, is a full CNC shop with two divisions—woodworking and paneling. These divisions create custom cabinets, signs, carvings and more.
Nicu, a mechanical engineer, takes a client’s request and designs a computer program that directs a router with drill bits to cut and carve. From simple holes, cuts and engravings to 3D carvings, custom signs and cabinets, the CNC machine achieves more than the human hand can whittle in less time. “Through speed and accuracy, the CNC technology offers a beautiful finished project where exact dimensions are vital,” Nicu says.
Nicu works with many materials, including solid woods, fiberboard and plastics, depending on the needs of the clients. For example, Nicu uses King StarBoard ST polymer building sheets for outdoor cabinets. That material is sealed and makes the cabinets weatherproof. Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) carves smoother for a 3D project. He uses thin aluminum for signs and polymer sheets for outdoor cabinets.
His favorite textile is MDF because he can complete complicated carvings and the material is environmentally friendly and comparatively inexpensive. “It comes in a variety of sheet sizes and thicknesses,” Nicu says. “It also looks good when it’s painted.”
Nicu also makes custom, flat-packed cabinets. Both his custom and King Starboard ST outdoor cabinets are delivered to the customer in a flat pack with all the hardware enclosed.
Hobby Expands into Booming Business
In 2004, Nicu started the company in his garage as a hobby. Now it’s a full-time business, even though it still feels like a fun diversion. He first acquired CNC skills in 1991, after graduating from college in his native Romania. There was a company close to his house that had the first CNC woodworking machine in Romania. He was impressed with the machine and wanted to do something different, so he applied for and got a job with the company.
Moving to the United States in 2001, he started working as a drafter and later as an engineer in a large architectural woodworking company in Cleveland. Moving to Florida next, he continued working for a large architectural woodworking company as a project engineer, and then he started his own business. He continued to improve his skill set. “I had a small machine in my garage, and I would work there when I had some time, and this is how the business began to flourish,” he says.
The small hobby has grown to approximately 250-300 jobs a year. Nicu started with small projects and gradually grew to bigger ones. He works with entry-level inventors who want their designs created and large companies needing a large order of panels cut on the CNC machine. Nicu wants to grow and expand the paneling side of the business. Besides his wife, Cristina, working for him part-time, he occasionally hires freelance drafters, programmers and shop assistants, but he hopes to hire a full-time employee this year to help him reach his expansion goals.
Nicu considers 3D carvings his specialty. After using a computer-aided design to draft a 3D model, he sends it to the customer for approval. Next, he prepares the computer program and determines which router bits and which drill speed to use—all the specifications that are paramount to the design coming out perfectly. In the next step, he places the material on the bed of the machine, where a vacuum holds the wood or plastic in place. The router moves back and forth across the surface of the material to form the design, using different drill bits that were programmed into the machine. “Basically, the machine is going to change the bits and come in and do different depressions, so you have an inside cutout, the beveling and the holes,” Nicu says.
Some jobs last a few hours, while others last more than a day. The stress level rises on the longer projects. He recently completed an intricate carving for Millwork 360, based in Tampa, Florida. The door manufacturer wanted a 46-inch-by-96-inch 3D carving of a Star Wars poster. “The machine worked 36 hours nonstop,” Nicu says. “I went home and left the machine working because I have a camera there. I woke up in the middle of the night, checking the camera, making sure the machine was still running, then I went back to sleep, but I couldn’t stop the machine. That was a stressful time.”
He would like to take on more assignments like the Star Wars project, and his passion, integrity and dedication speak to the complexity and power of what he can accomplish. “Millwork 360 was impressed with the quality, price and on-time delivery of the carving,” Nicu says.
Nicu is environmentally minded and would like to find a recycler who will take his leftover materials. “I only use durable, locally sourced materials and try to buy materials with no formaldehydes,” he says. “This is the way of the future.” Fewer chemicals in his final projects equal a better environment for his clients and the world.
Technology Keeps Jobs on Track
As a computer carver, Nicu has strong feelings about using technology in his work. Many of his clients attest to his use of state-of-the-art equipment. MJC Millworks & Cabinetry, Inc. repeatedly uses him because of this very reason; his high-tech tools are more accurate and complete more intricate designs than could be created by hand. Besides using a remote camera to make sure his extended jobs stay on track, Nicu uses an advanced computer for his programs and is always looking to improve his software. He would eventually like to add more innovative devices, such as a 5-axis CNC machine, which moves in five different axes simultaneously, allowing a multi-directional approach to carving and cutting.
His favorite jobs are 3D carvings because of the complexity and challenge that the jobs present as he maps his digital strategy for the CNC machine. “Not everyone can complete them,” Nicu says. In addition to 3D carvings, panels and woodworking, he creates statues and columns with the CNC machines. He also has a thermofoil machine that applies foil on top of the finished cabinets. He loves what he does and enjoys working with general contractors and subcontractors in commercial construction.
Corint Industries is dedicated to its clients. “This company was founded on a commitment to provide customers with outstanding quality, excellent service and timely delivery, all for a reasonable price,” Nicu says.