How fiber cement is made - Swisspearl
Swiss quality
Production of fiber cement. An interplay of tradition and innovation.

Fiber cement has long been an excellent design material due to its malleability when wet and its exceptional strength when dry. The durability and reliability are based on a precise material composition, which is constantly being researched and further developed. The production process is a combination of many years of experience in traditional manufacturing and further innovative developments based on the latest findings. Natural raw materials and continuous ingenuity and the recipe for success of our product, which has been manufactured and installed all over the world for over 100 years.

Thanks to the long tradition of our group of companies, experienced employees are able to produce the fiber cement panels from the processed raw materials with specialized knowledge, precision, and craftsmanship. Cement, pulp, reinforcing fibers and water are mixed together to form a raw mass. This is applied layer by layer to form panels of the desired size. The panels are then pressed and dried, and eventually color coated and cut to size. Ongoing quality controls ensure a consistent material composition and homogeneous surfaces. Because what distinguishes fiber cement is its recognizable texture and its equally diverse, durable coatings and surface structures.

Synthetic fibers—a key fiber cement component.

What fibers are used to make fiber cement panels?

The most important raw materials are synthetic fibers, cement, pulp and water as well as color pigments. Pulp is the name for the fibrous mass that results from the chemical decomposition of plant fibers and consists mainly of cellulose. After the danger of inhaling asbestos became known in the 1970s, a broad research program was started in Niederurnen to find a replacement. The fibers are an essential part of the recipe as they give the dried product the necessary strength. The research program was a success, and the first tests and new production runs took place between 1981 and 1989. Since May 1, 1990, all building construction products from the factories in Niederurnen and Payerne have been asbestos-free.

A very specific recipe and chemical reactions allow the raw materials to work together.

How and in what order are the raw materials processed and mixed?

First, the pulp bales are dissolved in water and ground to the desired fineness. This slurry is added to the pulp and synthetic fibers. The mixture is prepared in large vats in such a way that hydrogen bonds are formed during the chemical process, which binds the components together. Finally, the cement is added in the intensive mixer, so that the setting process begins.

The fiber cement panels are created from the watery mass with the plate maker.

How does the so-called plate maker work?

The plate maker is a key component of the production plant. Three cylindrical screens rotate in the cement-fiber-water slurry. The rotation creates a thin layer of the slurry, approximately 0.9 mm, which is wrapped around the format roller until the desired thickness of the panel is achieved. This process takes between 20–100 seconds, depending on the size and format of the panel. The diameter of the format roll determines the length of the panel, which is given its raw format by a corresponding cutting blade. In order to produce a different format, these units must be retooled. At this point, the fiber cement still contains a lot of water and the setting process is still in full swing.

A natural raw material dried by nature.

How are the raw panels dried?

First, the panels are stacked in between layers of steel sheets and pressed under a pressure of up to 10,000 tons in order to extract excess water. Then the water content of the panels is reduced from 28% to 15% and the panel density is increased. The cement hardens further through a chemical reaction with water. Heat is released during this process. The material has enough time to hydrate and solidify. After three weeks of hardening, the water content is only 7–8% and the panels are ready for further processing. First, the panels are dried in a furnace, unlike autoclaved fiber cement, which is steam-cured in autoclaves. Because of this, air-dried fiber cement is less porous and easier to work with.

Colors and surfaces for lively façades and limitless design variety.

Which colors can be used?

Our wide range of colors covers most of our customers' needs. However, we can apply almost any color to the panels upon request. The standard range includes glazes and opaque colors, as well as color families with through-body colored cores. Opaque colors are poured or sprayed onto the panels. However, it is not only the color itself that affects the appearance of the facade. Various surface treatments create visual effects, to which the shades of our color lines are harmoniously and consistently coordinated with professional expertise.

Which surface finishes and formats are possible?

Fiber cement allows many different surface treatment options - sanded, milled, iridescent, or left in its natural smooth state. We are constantly researching and developing additional special surface finishes. 

Our maximum standard format is available in the dimensions 3050 × 1250 mm with a thickness of 8 or 12 mm. All other formats can be cut from six standard formats for large-format panels. We also offer special productions on request, such as special cuts, milling, perforations, and ornaments.


Feel fiber cement.

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