© PACT Technologies Consulting & Trading GmbH

Steps made of a thousand sparkling stones

Walls, stairs, partitions: IMPLEXIONS adds glittering touches to architecture and decorative items with crystals embedded in PLEXIGLAS®.

Visitors to Swarovski Innsbruck reach the top floor of the store by walking over scintillating crystals. At first sight, the 32 steps of the transparent staircase appear to consist entirely of thousands of gemstones suspended in space that sparkle with light.

Ascend in grand style

The staircase consists of 2×3-meter crystal panels made from PLEXIGLAS®. Each of the crystals has been added by hand. The 32 steps lead to the upper floors. Every step is 1.4 meters wide and 30 centimeters deep. The magical lighting includes LED strips on the front of each step. All in all, the structure weighs 800 kilograms.

In fact, these are 20,000 Swarovski crystals of different sizes that are embedded in PLEXIGLAS® steps and illuminated by LED technology. The inventors of the technology behind the application, the Tyrolean company PACT Technologies Consulting & Trading GmbH, call it “IMPLEXIONS”. The patented process embeds different elements (which may be leaf gold or rose petals as well as crystals) into clear-transparent PLEXIGLAS®, without bubbles and without joints. This creates the illusion of freely floating objects, like the insects enclosed in amber to be found in nature.

The crystals are inserted by hand. Customers can achieve different effects depending on the size and position of the crystals. “These elements are shown off to best advantage in acrylic because they stand completely on their own. Our customers are always impressed by the luminous, intensive reflections in our crystal applications,” explains Hans-Jürgen Kandler, Marketing Manager for IMPLEXIONS. “PLEXIGLAS® is excellently suited for this process because of its high transparency.”

Step by step from a candlestick to a staircase

Everything began with an exhibition display of Swarovski ornaments in 2005. In the course of time, the company went from producing candlesticks, vases and jewelry to large panels. The staircase in Innsbruck, created in August 2011, was the company’s first interior design product. The developers of IMPLEXIONS had spent two years researching for this large-scale application together with the Faculty of Engineering and Plastics Technology at Rosenheim University of Applied Sciences. “We had to find a production process that ­excludes sheet yellowing, bubble formation, cracks and deflection,” Kandler says. Finally, the first panels were produced in sizes of 2 by 3 meters. The quality was right. The panels were able to guide light seamlessly, were tough and easy to clean, and protected the enclosed objects from soiling. The manufacturing process has now been patented and the panels can be obtained under the name CRYSTAL GLANCE.

Our customers are always impressed by the luminous, intensive reflections in our crystal applications.

Hans-Jürgen Kandler
Marketing Manager for IMPLEXIONS

Seamless brilliance

“The products can be used for a multitude of indoor and outdoor applications. Tiles, elevator panels, partitions, ceilings and floors can all be upgraded in this way,” says Kandler. PLEXIGLAS® can easily be produced in large sizes, which are in increasing demand in architecture. The trend is moving away from mosaics towards complete, seamless wall panels or floors. “As well as the staircase of Swarovski Innsbruck, we realized large-area applications like this for the gallery of Swarovski Kristallwelten in Wattens, in the form of a partition. Large panels are also used in spa hotels,” Kandler says.

Take a look behind the scenes of this sparkling staircase

A sparkling new world

This method that combines crystals with PLEXIGLAS® is also used to make jewelry such as necklaces, key rings and rings. The latest developments include small items of furniture like tables and chests of drawers, as well as bathroom accessories, for example towel rails. “We are developing new products under the IMPLEXIONS label all the time, and refining our formulation. With round corpuses, for instance, it is important that the crystals are equally radiant on all sides,” Kandler states.