Eliane introduced its “Maxigres” ceramic tile series, which is available in three stone looks and two textured finishes.

Revestir 2010, the largest ceramic tile and stone show in Latin America, held March 9-12 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, had record attendance despite the current global recession. At a time when most tradeshows are struggling to survive, this event stands out as an unqualified success. While final attendance figures are not available, organizers of the fair expect the total to reach 45,000 visitors, the most in the show’s eight-year history.

Portinari’s “Slim” series lives up to its name, with a 5.5-cm format that is available in 32 x 32 and 36 x 72-cm formats.

In order to strengthen foreign participation, the show’s organizers unveiled a new program, “Projeto Comprador,” in which 60 of the most important buyers and distributors of covering materials in the world had part of their expenses subsidized. Altogether, more than 1,000 professional buyers from 65 countries attended this year’s show. With so many key buyers in attendance, Brazilian tile manufacturers prepared many new product launches for Revestir 2010, including several new series that utilize the latest manufacturing technologies.

Michael Cox, national sales manager of Eliane, demonstrates “Maxigres,” a new stone look tile aimed at the U.S. market. The product will make its American debut at Coverings 2010.

One of the significant recent developments in the Brazilian ceramic tile industry has been the introduction of the latest inkjet glazing technology by several key manufacturers. This technology allows them to recreate natural textures such as natural stone and wood with uncanny accuracy, as well as allowing photographic images to be printed onto tiles.

Jairo Garcia, North America area manager for Ceusa Ceramic Tile, explains the company’s new Jet Plus technology, an inkjet glazing system that allows for realistic images to be printed onto ceramic tiles. For special orders, customers can have any photo reproduced on a selection of the company’s tiles.

Ceusa introduced several new series that utilize their “Jet Plus” inkjet glazing technology, including “Extint,” a wood look porcelain tile line; “Calacata” uses the technology to reproduce the texture of Italian marble; “Picasso” offers a different take on the traditional marble look.

Paulo Cesar Benetton, sales director of Portinari, demonstrates the company’s range of available formats, including two new sizes, 32-by-32 and 36-by-36 inches.

Portinari also highlighted its new digital printing technology with the introduction of 11 new collections at Revestir, including “Travertino,” a rustic stone look porcelain tile; the “Silex” collection offers a highly textured stone look in two colors.

Participants in the Revestir 2010 press conference, held March 9; Pictured (L to R): Lauro Andrade Filho, organizer of Revestir; Ligia Amorim, president of the Kitchen & Bath fair; Italian architect Massimo Iosa Ghini; Antonio Carlos Keiling, president of Revestir; American materials expert George Elvin.

Another important technological breakthrough is the production of ultra-thin tiles, which previously have only been produced by Italian and Spanish manufacturers. Portobello introduced its “Extra Fino” porcelain tile, which is only 4 mm. thick. Eliane presented its Laminum collection, a 3.5-mm. porcelain tile that comes in 1-by-3-meter format.

American materials expert George Elvin discussed the role of nanotechnology in the future of sustainable building during the International Forum of Architecture and Construction, on March 9 during Revestir 2010.

Large formats continue to dominate, with manufacturers offering ever-increasing sizes, as well as plank formats designed to imitate hardwood installations. Portinari, one of the first Brazilian manufacturers to offer oversized formats, showed tiles in 80 x 80. 90 x 90, 60 x 180 and 100 x 100-cm formats. Gyotoku introduced a new 30 x 100-cm format, its largest format to date.

Bruno Lisanti, export manager of Incefra, presents “Design,” a new wood look glazed ceramic tile which debuted at Revestir 2010.

These technological innovations allow the Brazilian manufacturers to offer products that compete in performance with the leading manufacturers in Italy, while offering very competitive pricing.

Fabio Bittencourt of Ecopietra explains the technical properties of “Terrastone,” a synthetic stone compostite which is produced using a new vacuum press technology.

“The American buyers have been impressed that we can deliver the same quality as Italian products, such as inkjet technology, at a very competitive price,” Jefferson Claudino of Ceusa Ceramic Tile. “We understand the needs of the market,” said Paulo Cesar Benetton, sales director of Portinari. “Brazilian products can be an attractive alternative to Spanish and Italian products.”

Although the majority of products introduced at Revestir were targeted for the Latin American market, there were several companies that introduced products aimed at the U.S. market.

“While many Brazilian manufacturers have abandoned the U.S. market, our upper level management made the conscious decision to continue to provide new products and services for the United States,” said Michael Cox, U.S. national sales manager for Eliane, which introduced its “Maxigres” series that is intended for a U.S. audience.

“We have several collections targeted to the U.S. market, including our Roma, Pierre de Buxy and Malibu series, said Benetton. “The U.S. market is down now, but we believe that market is very important for the future.”

On the show floor, traffic was extremely heavy every day, as consumers filled the isles and buyers crammed into meeting rooms to negotiate sales. The exhibitors were very pleased with the success of this year’s event, both in terms of traffic and sales, which are expected to exceed $150 million.

“This is a unique opportunity to present the new releases we have been developing,” said Adriano Lima, president of Gyotoku. “By the magnitude this event acquired, it became one of the main marketing events for our new products. It’s extremely important that Gyotoku participates in Revestir.”

As preparations begin for next year’s event, the biggest concern may be finding enough space for the exhibitors and guests.  “In this edition of Revestir, we had two problems only: lack of space and too many bodies,” said Antonio Carlos Kieling, president of Expo Revestir.