?This blog will discuss Kerokan, Cupping and Eagle Claw Rejuvenation.
What a business can learn from an Eagle
In a previous article: "What a business can learn from an Octopus", I spoke about the intelligence of the Octopus and drew comparisons between the Octopus and niche manufacturers in North America. I gave specific intelligent tactics that the Octopus use for survival and then compared that to tacts that a manufacturer could use in positioning their product or services.
Living here in Florida, its not uncommon to see a Sandhill Crane or a long legged Heron walk around as they hunt for worms or geckos. If you live near large trees or the water it is also normal to hear the squawk of a Hawk. But seeing a Bald Eagle is always a bit more rare. I think most people stop with awe when they see this beautiful bird glide through the air. Aside from being our National Bird, its simply a remarkable animal. But what tactics do the Bald Eagle use for their survival and how can we draw comparisons that can be learned in business?
BE AN EAGLE
So we know that Eagles are rare and that its a federal crime to kill a Bald or Golden Eagle. Felony convictions face a maximum of $250,000 and misdemeanor convictions can face up to a $5,000 fine. In business, being unique and serving a specific niche is key to most small businesses's survival. If you are a custom manufacturer of components (for example) is it your lead time, your profiles or what specifically make you rare in your segment? Its important to be as rare as possibly but remember that if you are too rare that extinction could be a prediction. A little competition actually creates more overall awareness for a given product segment. And its the hard times that build the Eagle's character. Its important to serve an industry where you know you're the Eagle rather than the pigeon or even worse a buzzard. A pigeon pecks at the ground for scraps, a buzzard feeds on the dead. Be an Eagle.
Eagles have amazing hunting strategy and can be cunning. Have you ever witnessed a video of an Eagle throwing a goat off a cliff as a killing tactic? If your business is to survive and flourish you must have the courage to be different, to focus on creating value for your clients in every way you can. If you are a sales person you have to accept rejection and understand that you will often get a "no" or face rejection. But what we all do is not life or death, so fear of rejection is silly albeit natural. When Eagles mate they lock talons and copulate while falling to the ground. Its called the spiral of death however, its shows that they love how they live, without fear. Even how Eagles learn to fly is done with a specific flare. Momma Eagles gather an Eaglet on their back and soar high. When they glide to ground they do so gradually and gently so that the Eaglet gets the feeling for their wings as they drop to the ground. Eaglets can be a metaphor for new hires, new ideas or new products. Its important to soar high but be there to catch your eaglets to make sure they don't fall to the ground and die. But flying is a must for growth and ultimate survival so if an Eaglet refuses to fly, the Eagle rips apart the nest and nudges them off the cliff. The Eagle knows when the time is right and so should you. You must know when to launch your Eaglets when YOU feel the time is right no matter how much they cling to the nest. Remember, you've already let your Eaglets get a "feel" for their wings, you've already fed them, nurtured them and when its time for the world, rip apart the nest and nudge them off the cliff if they refuse to fly. And since Eaglets are born and bred to fly. Feel the pride when they soar.
Eagles pick the highest spot in a terrain and the keep a sharp eye out for their prey. They can spot prey the size of a rabbit from 2 miles away ! But as a human, its not eye site , mental vision is our key. To have mental vision, we must see far into the future of to predict the needs of our clients. We must develop the vision to see what colors will become the new market standards and see the way to developing the business for the market rather than scavenging for the business created by others. Although its impossible to always be the originator of every idea, if you make your business solely on the copying of others by duplicating other's designs , profiles or work you are modeling your business on a different animal (such as the pigeon or the vulture) rather than the Eagle. Its not impossible to create a business solely by copying others however eventually if your competitors find a way to protect their work you may find yourself unable to adapt to becoming an original when you've spent so much time bottom feeding. In other words, you could become extinct.Remember that pigeons peck and fuss about and vultures bottom feed. Eagles soar to new heights and find new prey. Eagles are game changers and pay no mind to pigeons. If your business is always nipping at the competition by price, you may want to ask yourself why you do not believe your product or service is worth the market price and try to find how you can improve upon your quality, service or value proposition.
When a storm comes, Eagles use the air current by flying directly towards the storm and the wind lifts them like a rocket as they fly up above the clouds. In business, downturns can happen, markets change, new competition arises. Instead of giving up, laying low or seeking shelter, why not face the challenge like the Eagle. Instead of hunkering down, fly up to get a 10,000 foot view and look for new opportunities that only an Eagle could see by climbing to that height. The office industry is an example of this. Many office furniture producers became Healthcare furniture producers as the office industry became more competitive in past years. When the storm settled and other Office furniture manufacturers came out from their shelters they noticed that the companies that were thriving the most were the ones that diversified in an intelligent way. These diversified companies are now strong in Office and Health Care.
At about the age of 30, Eagle's bodies begin to deteriorate due to their age. It has been reported that some Eagles do something completely amazing when they get 30 years old, they retreat to a mountain top and over a 5 month period they rebuild. The eagle knocks its beak on the rocks, plucks out their talons and then all their feathers. When they emerge they are revitalized and can life up to another 30 plus years. Think humans can't do this? I'll never forget back in the 90s when I was visiting Indonesia. I witnessed an Indonesian woman become ill and her friend took her into a room and raked a coin down her back till it was covered in welts. When they emerged from the room, her back was completely red and you could see the raised skin. Although years prior, I lived in Malaysia for nearly a year my Malay / Indonesian was very limited but I do believe they used a word similar to "Kerokan" to describe the technique they were doing with the coin. I deduced that this simply created shock on the largest surface area organ of the body "the skin". And the back is the best place for this technique. Although I had never heard of this before, my mind is always open to learning from others and I could only reason that the damage done to the back is a way to hyper stimulate the immune system into hyper drive. Whether its a technique similar to acupuncture or whether its a placebo, the body's ability to heal itself is unquestioned.
So in reality, humans have the power of an eagle. But alas, Western society has taught us to drug up, take antibiotics and after all, aren't we supposed to live the life of a pigeon and not the Eagle? But we can be Eagles !
Are you a plus or a minus polarity? As humans, we have power; power of thought, power action, power of influence and many unknown powers. One such power I call Purpose Polarity.From very small, our parents unknowingly teach us this power of polarity in the ways they reward our good behavior and punish us for bad behavior. Its through our parents that we find our values and how we handle our daily lives. How we view the world and our participation or power over our surroundings determines so much in the ways of success in personal relationships as well as in matters of career and money.
If a kid steals $10 from his mothers purse to buy candy and she never finds out he or she may realize that dark or negative polarity works. If the kid apologizes they are grounded , candy taken or much worse. So the kid just learned that not only does crime not pay but confessing doesn't pay either. But what if the kid confessed, apologized and then was told to wash the car and they could keep the candy. What if the kid was taught to add value and provide a service and only good things would happen?
DARK FORCE / NEGATIVE POLARITY: It is widely known that in this world there are some very bad people. Sometimes these very bad people are in jail but other times they are extremely successful. These negative polarized people seem to be all about themselves and all their actions are to their gain. Ego, lawyer protection, contracts, negotiation; all of these things are required to protect the dark worker with negative polarity. If you see a successful company with a huge legal department you can probably guess that they are negatively polarized. In fact, faceless corporations and public companies often go the way of negative polarity.
GREY FORCE / UNDECIDED: Next we have grey polarity. Your masses of people or the majority of people have some grey or a lot of grey. People are often torn on what decision to make and often the amount of money or the gain affects their decision. We've heard before that "everyone has a price". The correct statement is that "most people have a price". There is a small group of people who cannot be bought and their ethics or standards are locked in.
LIGHT FORCE / POSITIVE POLARITY: People with positive polarity are ones who are focused on others or the greater good. In general if a person learns that they must add value in order to be paid or they must think about a system of utility. Utility is the measurement of benefit.
I'd like to tell you the story of my friend Rod who often visited his grandparents near my house. Rod slipped change and bills from his elderly grandparents
. He had told me that they gave him the money however slowly over the summer I started to expect that he was stealing the money. I confronted Rod with this fact and I refused to eat any more. After some time he confessed to his grandparents and he was grounded and I lost my friend for the rest of the summer. My friend Rod was not pleased with me for pushing him to confess and to stop taking the money. Growing up I mowed yards for neighbors and also helped my father in his business. The pay was not great but it was the source of my spending money and also saving for a car when I turned 16. When Rod got in trouble I told my dad about this event and he told me a very valuable lesson. He said "Son, money you make fairly is twice as enjoyable
Pressing 3D Laminates and Blow outs
There are many different tips and tricks to pressing. Often I am asked for formulas however I often find that each company may require different settings based upon the material they are pressing, the profiles, glue type, stage height and so on. One common issue that all companies have or will eventually face are blow outs. During the press cycle you can hear a blow out occur by a pop and a hissing sound. After retrieving the tray from the press you will typically find that dreaded hole and all the parts did not form properly because the press lost its seal.
Blow outs are typically caused by either too high of a heat versus too low heat. You can tell them apart because blowouts by too low heat are more like tears and blow outs by too much heat are typically circles or tear shaped holes that seem uniform.
Keep in mind that raising or lowering the temperature alone may not solve a cold or hot spot issue. Imagine if you raise the temp but get heat issues but lower the temp and get lack of forming.... Other issues may be at play such as having too short of a preheat. If your preheat is too short then it may be possible that the heat did not have time to soak or penetrate the entire thickness of the 3D Laminate.
There are different scenarios where cold spots can form such as using thicker films in a 16 mil to 20 mil where the heat has not soaked all the way through the thickness of the product. Imagine if you are using a very dark color like a Wenge which is almost black and it conducts or absorbs the heat more rapidly however you get cold spots blow outs. Then when you raise the heat you get hot blow outs. The solution to this type of problem can be to do a longer preheat but keeping the temp low enough so that you do not over heat any one particular area of the material. You may also want to use heat strips to ensure you are getting heat distributed uniformly in the press.
With membranes on a Shaw Almex, Wemhoner or Italpress for example you may experience less blowouts because the membrane is the source of pressure and that pressure keeps the blowout from occuring. With an Italpresse with no membrane (for example) that inflates the vinyl to the upper platen you get a balloon where the center of the material is touching the platen and heating up very rapidly however the outer portions may not be heating as rapidly and you can actually experience cold spot blow outs towards the outer perimeter of the press. There are two solutions for this type of problem. The first is to have a longer preheat but at a lower temperature so that you get all the material uniformly pliable but not one portion of the film is so hot that it is weakened. There are some machines in which you can reduce the inflation time and then preheat part of the time with it inflated and then preheat part of the time while its not infated. You may need to contact your machine supplier to ensure that your particular model has this option.
Another scenario with blow outs can be caused by utilizing the Eco Jig pin system manufactured by Dackor. This pin system is an affordable alternative to automatic systems (although not as efficient as an auto system). In the Eco Jig system you must ensure that the pins are pushed under far enough so as not to create a penetration point for the vinyl to hit. By pushing the pins under further it creates an even distribution of pressing at the bottoms of the doors and will stop blowing out under this situation.
In summary, there are many variables which can cause blowouts based upon settings.
Step 1: Determine if are having cold or hot blow outs
Step 2: If raising or lowering temp does not help then try working with your preheat
Step 3: If the above does not work email your settings, machine details and problems you are having to email@example.com
I hope that this article was helpful, be sure to contact us for further assistance.
Whitening on the corners of 3D Laminate thermofoil doors
There are many different tips and tricks to pressing. Often I am asked for formulas however I often find that each company may require different settings based upon the material they are pressing, the profiles, glue type, stage height and so on. One common issue that all companies have or will eventually face are whitening on the corners.
There are many misconceptions about what causes whitening on the corners and typically the laminate is blamed for the issue. Although the laminate can be a reason it is not necessarily the culprit. Read more to delve into the issues and the solutions on whitened corners on the doors.
First I'd like to separate lightening from whitening. I define lightened corners as separations between the print layer and the base film layer and whitened corners as separations between the top cap and the print layer. When you see a corner that is lightened it is typically revealing the base layer of the foil. One over generalization is that a lighter backer of the foil is the issue. When thermofoils are produced typically the lighter backer is used as the base tone of the design. Quality manufacturers have dozens of backers whereas a low end manufacturer may have only a few bases to choose or may use a white backer on a dark woodgrain for example. But most common you will find mustard , almond or chocolate backers on most woodgrains and if any foil is over formed it will reveal the base layer and therefore have whitened or lightened corners.
Another common mistake is that you can bend a sample and when it whitens that is evidence that the material will whiten when pressing. When you bend a thermofoil sample and it whitens it typically is forcing the top layer away from the base layer and this is very common among quality manufacturers and will not necessarily cause whitening on the edges when pressing. It in fact shows how they produce their film in respect to the printing layers whether direct printed, reverse printed or at what temperature the material was laminated at. In fact, many high end manufacturers darker colors will whiten when you bend them. So if a sales person grins and bends his sample to show that it doesn't whiten they are trying to show their product is of a higher quality but it is really just a bi-product of how they produce their product or may even show that their company doesn't even have the capability to produce by direct print with a finished top cap. They may actually be showing a weakness of their product and not even knowing it. By bending a sample it will not necessarily stop whitening on the corners when membrane pressing. In the application of miter folding PVC bending the sample does in fact have a direct correlation to whitening issues because the part will be bent at a lower temp whereas in membrane pressing the part is formed at full temp.
Want to know how to tell the difference between a top cap separation and a print layer separation?.... The key way to tell is if your parts lighten to a clear or bluish edge or if they whitened to the color of the base of the film. If they whiten to the base of the film then its not caused by the top layer separating. If the corner of the door is in fact bluish or clear in tone you can test it by rubbing it with a block of wood or flaring it with a heat gun. In a miter folding application of a thermofoil a wooden block or heat gun can be used to reseal the top cap to the whitened area. In a membrane pressing application the key will typically be to use a higher heat so that it soaks through the foil and does not cause a separation between a top cap and a print layer.
The most common problem with lightened corners are caused by either too much or too little heat. With too much heat you will over stretch the material and will typically find the outer doors that do not have jigs or are not on the edge of the table. The material is heated up too high and then there is no jig or tray filler to capture material and then the laminate may get over stretched on the corners. A simple solution is to put a jig / tray filler close to the edge.
Another common problem with lightened corners are caused by too little heat. When the material is too soft or has cold spots on the table the material can separate on the print in the areas where it is being stretched the most which is typically the edge or corners of the doors. You can put a heat strip in various places on the press to find any cold or hot spots in your table.
For darker colors such as a Wenge which has ticking you may also find that these darker colors are more likely to have too much heat applied to fast. What I mean is that the dark woodgrains are likely to absorb heat faster than a lighter woodgrain and especially when using bulb heating elements. In addition if the foil has aggressive ticking you may find that these deep ticks become separation starters. So the material pulls apart faster between the ticks. The solution for this is to move a jig / table filler closer to that edge and it should solve the problem right away.
In general most press operators think in terms of board feed rate in their saws or imput data into the press machine but we often have to think of membrane pressing as more of an art. To recap,
1. Whitened corners can be due to the material being too hot. Solution: Put fillers closer to the edge of the part
2. Whitened corners can be due to the material being too cold. Solution: Increase the preheat by 10%. Be sure to use heat strips to ascertain this
3. Dark woodgrains or items with deep texture can whiten easier. Solution: Put fillers closer to the edge of the part
I hope that you find this post helpful and if you would like to add any tips or points please feel free to send me an email.
Drying Racks for 3D Laminate components
Recently I received a call from a company who just got a press. They said they were looking for drying racks and that when asking around people recommend that they call me. I was so happy to hear this because it signifies that people know I will go the extra mile and if I dont know the answer I'll find it out. So I looked through my notes and right away found the following site which sells carts for drying thermofoil doors and other components.
Cost $325 for Drying Tower DT-50. 50 shelves 25 per side
This is the price the last I checked however it may change by the time you read this post.
If you are ever looking for something or need pressing assistance please dont hesitate to ask. Also if its a topic or product that you do not want me to publish on this blog you can also request that as well.
Dackor does sell tools at www.dackor.com/tools however we do not currently carry drying racks
When you think about life, humans or business we should all look at nature to see how animals have adapted for survival. One amazing animal is the Octopus.
The most obvious thing would be that Octopuses have 8 arms. Actually the arms are four sets of two. Aside from the arms, the Octopus's intelligence and adaptability is what makes it truly a unique animal. Some site that the Octopus has been around for over 400 million years and it has developed quite intelligent tricks to enable its survival.
The Octopus can:
1. NICHE: Fit into small spaces just like a business can serve niche parts of a market. Octopuses the size of your fist fit though the neck of a beer bottle and hide out from predators on the ocean floor. This flexibility enables it to get into tight areas free from harm.
Example for our Industry: Firstly with so much manufacturing that has gone to Asia simply making custom components is already considered somewhat a niche in the grand scheme of materials. A further niche could be a focus on complex parts that are thicker, sculputural panels, a focus on the closet industry or a focus on refacing.
A. Focus complex Parts such as thicker parts. If a company was to focus on this niche it would require them to enhance their CAD abilities and also to invest into a press than would make these deeper parts.
B. Sculptural Panels: If a company were to focus on this market they would have to invest into that specific tooling and also focus on building the rep or specification sales arms to succeed.
C. Closet Industry: If a company were to focus on this segment they would have to focus on bringing in 3D Laminates that matched the boards being most used in their market.
D. Refacing: If a company were focused this market they would need to develop match HPL backed thermofoils or possibly peel and stick backed product which companies like Dackor offer.
The point is that it is very difficult to be all things to all people and so its easier to focus on a Niche for not only survival but also to become the best at that niche. If your company attempted to serve all the markets then you wouldnt have the right press for the thicker parts, or the right tooling for the sculptural panels or all the board matches for the Closet Industry or would never quite develop the match system for refacing. In essence you'd probably get a bit accomplished of all the goals but never be the master of one. This dispersing of time and capital makes you vulnerable to the predators of the ocean who are either more focused or have the resources to accomplish all tasks.
2. ADAPTABILITY: When facing adversity many Octopuses change color to conceal themselves in coral or in the sand. They change and adapt just like businesses must change and adapt with market conditions. In fact, Octopus have been known to change colors to mimick lionfish, sea snakes and eels. This means that the Octopus is intelligent enough to have self awareness in order to aspire to be a more dangerous predator when its life is put in danger; Amazing if you think about it. In waters near islands, Octopuses have been known to grab two coconut shells that were bust in half and use them as shields to fend off its competitors of the sea.
Example for our Industry:
The first thing that comes to mind is the ability for a business to change with the times. Lets suppose that textures are becoming a trend and all your swatch books in the market have yesterday's colors however if you are adaptable you could quickly add the newest textures being offered to change the appearance of your swatch book offering to adapt to the image the market desire.
3. INK: When attacked in open water the Octopus will deploy ink and then disappear to a safer hiding spot. I used to live in Japan for several years and developed a taste for Octopus at the Sushi bar but when the Octopus releases the ink in open water it makes the water taste bad and reduces the desire for larger predators to continue pursuit.
Example for our Industry:
If you compare the example of the Octopus unleashing ink to make the water taste bad and hence think that the Octopus will taste bad imagine your company focusing on a niche industry while your competitors are spread out too thin. If you were focused on the reface market for example and all of your matches had complimentary HPL matches, you could process HPL back and even peel stick back then it would spoil the water for a would be competitor. A competitor would come in to eat your lunch only to taste the ink in the water and decide not to attack this market due the high barrier of entry you have created. I could apply this example to the Closet Industry, Sculptural Panels, or any other part of the market as well.
I hope that as I've used the example of the Octopus that you feel inspired to continue on your current path or for some you may, in fact, rethink how you are currently going about things and hopefully this article may inspire in some way.
As readers of this blog may know, I am with DACKOR 3D Laminates here in North America. Aside from stocking the laminates and making them available to the market and creating trends, we do a lot of specifications. Sometimes cabinet companies have a misunderstanding of what we do.
As you may be aware, before a condo, apartment or hotel breaks ground, the designers choose colors and come up with a general design to be bid on. Designers are contracted either by the Architectural firm or directly by the owners. This is a critical point because if they specify an offshore producer.... or a veneer, for example, and your company's strength is membrane pressing doors then something could be specified that your company does not have a comparable advantage in. Just like HPL, Solid Surface and other architectural products, Dackor gets our colors specified and we do our best to also value engineer the project. We explain how important melamine matches are however ultimately this is a decision for the ultimate customer, the owner of the project.
WHY DO DESIGNERS WORK WITH MATERIAL SUPPLERS?
It is commonly known that Designers work with material suppliers rather than cabinet makers. I have suspected that the reason is that its viewed that for the Designer to work with the subs on a project that it is interfering with the bidding process. Often cabinet companies get exclusive materials and the price of their final work reflects that. By specifying the material, multiple people can bid on the project. This is the first theory. The second theory is that GCs do large projects and may owe funds to one supplier and so interfering with subs and specifying them may affect the cash flow of a project. In summary, its an industry conclusion that designers like to specify materials and then empower the GC to work with whom they choose. So if we are specifying 3D Laminates and you like working with our product segment we are doing you a service. We are lining up a project to fall into your wheel house and better assure that you get the project.
Dackor is not in the business of going to existing projects and trying to convince them to switch colors. Since our main customer is those with membrane or vacuum presses, we would never disrupt their business by trying to convince a color to be switched to ours. It is our goal to support and to further enhance the business of the door pressing community.
If you are a cabinet company who has previously done work for a General Contractor and then you see a Dackor specified laminate, it may seem that we are disrupting your business. This is inaccurate because the project could have been specified in an off shore cabinet color or a surfacing product which your factory is not equipped to produce. From your perspective, the GC is your customer and the wishes of the owner or the designer seem irrelevant however they are the ultimate customer who is paying for the cabinets. Also GCs use a wide variety of cabinet vendors and just having the spec be initially in a 3D Laminate gives your company a leg up to assure that its you who gets that project.
RECOMMENDING CABINET COMPANIES
Dackor is independent and does not favor any company over the other however if you own a membrane press its you who we want to impress, who we want to develop a relationship with. Its important to see our role in the process and to see value in us being out specifying 3D Laminates. Why not get closer to us to find out about other opportunities and to utilize us as an extension of your sales efforts. In addition, we can custom match colors and bring in colors to enable you to win projects that would normally go to another technology or go to another producer.
OTHER INDUSTRIES THAT SPECIFY
We are all aware that HPL producers such as Wilsonart, Formica and Laminart specify their laminates as well as countertop companies like Corian, Cambria and Silestone. In these markets it is quite common for items to be specified and there are such an abundance of companies who can process these materials. Please note that as a membrane or vacuum presser that you are in a unique group and although you are used to controlling the supply of these materials that it is not out of line or unordinary for us to specify our laminates prior to the GC being name and certainly before the Cabinet company is named. By the time you are called to bid the project we may have had a year prior into the specification process. Be sure to reach out to us and to work closely with us so that we can work towards mutual benefit. Ultimately we want to work more closely with you and to develop a closer relationship.
Dackor gets involved very early on in projects to specify our laminates. Projects specified in Dackor have been long before you have been involved in that project and before the GC has even been awarded the projects. If your company brings to us a project after the fact then we will refer to you and not even communicate with the Designer or owner for that matter. We understand very clearly the protocol and operate in that manner. We hope that you embrace us, become a customer to us and that we can feed each other business and grow together.
Producing Shaker doors that are clean and neat are the goal. If you take a 3D Laminate shaker door and cut it open you may be surprised to find a plant in center panel. Read below to learn more.
PRODUCING A SHAKER DOOR:
To produce a shaker door and then membrane or vacuum press the door companies first router out the center reveal. One common issue is that in doing so the fibers of the door open up. It can be very difficult to then get a sander in and to accomplish the desired finish. On top of that , when a PUD adhesive is applie, the PUD adhesive is about 58% water which further opens the pours of the MDF open and will show through the 3D Laminate after pressing.
The ideal solution is to take a 1/8" HDF board cut to the size of the center panel and to drop it into the center of the shaker. This is the most common way companies create good looking shaker doors in the component industry. The HDF (High Density Fiberboard) can be left unsanded with the factory finish. It is important however to glue the center panel in because failure to do so will make it sound like the beat of a drum when closing the cabinet door. The center of the door can be glued in by the PUD adhesive used in the membrane pressing process.
For painted doors, the key to get a good finish is to paint the door and then sand it to a 250 to 300 grit and then paint again. This will smooth out the surface before doing a finishing coat.
PLANT ON SHAKER:
For plant on Shaker, you can take 1/2" mdf and run a 1/4" to 1/4" mdf through a shaper and then miter cut and piece the parts on the door using a PUR adhesive. This reduces the milling time out of the shaker and creates a lower processed cost Shaker. It will have a reveal line on the perimeter of the door however this is a small price to pay for saved CNC milling time.
If you follow the steps above you can get a better looking shaker door. For additional information please feel free to contact me for further information or further research.
There are various ways to process 3D Laminates. In this article I will mention all the ways you can process 3D Laminates and also mention some common machine names used in membrane pressing and vacuum pressing.
At the time of me writing this article, the most common brands of membrane presses in North America are Wemhoner which is sold by Stiles Machinery, Shaw Almex which is sold by Black Brothers, Italpress which has their own office, Orma, and Burkle. www.membranepress.com
Advantages of membrane presses: Membrane presses typically use rubber or silicone membranes to firstly transfer heat to the components more rapidly and secondly they apply positive pressure on top of the components to press the material while the vacuum on the bottom of the press can also have suction. The pros are that the cycle times are fast and its easier to get more detail in the component under most conditions. The cons are that they membranes need to be replaced periodically depending upon the cycles ran and also based upon the parts produced. The other con would be the cost of a membrane press. They typically cost $200K to over $500K however you may find one for less or a used one. Please do keep in mind that some membrane presses are capable of removing the membrane from the machine and still operating but not all.
VACUUM PRESSES:The most common brands of vacuum presses sold in North America are Shaw Almex, Italpress and Greco. If you are a maker of vacuum presses and do not see your company's info here please contact me. I apologize if I overlooked it.
Advantages of vacuum presses: Vacuum presses are more affordable however they do not have positive pressure on top. Vacuum presses rely solely on the vacuum power below and they use light bulbs or heat plates on top in some machines. Most vacuum presses have longer press cycle times and do not get as much detail into the components. There are some tricks such as drilling holes in the backs of the components to enable vacuum to pull through the MDF and also some companies will score the glue line on the side of the component with a knife which breaks the seal a bit and enables more vacuum. In general, companies who produce mass components for others prefer a positive pressure membrane press with or without the membrane in lieu of a vacuum press. Vacuum presses are an inexpensive way to get in the business however they are more suited for companies who use the components internally for their own cabinets or fixtures and less suitable for companies who mass produce components for others and whose livelihood is attached to selling components due to the longer press cycle times.
3D Laminates or vinyls can also be flat laminated either by a flat lamination machine utilizing PUR adhesive typically. These machines are designed for fast flat lamination. The other way to flat laminate is by a nip roller using a 2 part epoxy glue.
3D Laminates can also be processed by profile wrapping moldings
Miter folding is where material is flat laminated or membrane pressed to a component with a v groove in the back of the part. A line of glue can be ran in the groove and then the part is simply folded to create a seamless fold. The vinyl acts as a hinge. Please note that white lines can appear on the fold with vinyls which is caused by various reasons. Companies use wooden blocks to rub or heat guns to remove the white lines. Some laminate manufacturers can produce vinyl so that they will not whiten when folded.
3D Laminates can be processed by contact cement, peel stick or laminate backed for hand applications. The laminates are not specifically made for this type application so this is the exception rather than the rule.
This post is just a teaser and does not get deep into the topics. If your company is a processor in North America and has technical questions you can contact me for more detailed information, tips and tricks.
Manufacturers of 3D Laminates know that the product has many advantages as compared with HPL and other surfaces. 3DL's impact resistance can be far superior to most laminate surfaces and the taber abrasion can be extremely high especially with solid colors whitch are homogeneous. But how about scratch resistance? In this article I'd like to discuss some obscure tricks on how scratch resistance is obtained with 3DL that most companies don't share.
Firstly, each company has claims that their product is more durable based upon a unique or proprietary lacquer. Although each company has its own formulation the real secret is in tweaking a combination of lacquer and texture. Also gloss level of the print layer and lacquers can play a roll as well as the color of the print however this article is meant to focus on a specific subject of texture which is one of the biggest factors that contribute to scratch resistance of 3DL.
OK... so to start....
The most common lacquers are polyurethanes or polyurethane combinations. Applying lacquer is key to protect the top surface's hills and valleys and provide hardness to the surface. This sounds like the end all be all solution however in reality if a sharp objects digs into the peaks (hill tops of the texture) in a certain way then its irrelevant as to how much or what type top coat is applied. Think of your carpet and running your foot over the carpet. The carpet is not damaged however you moved the carpet strands in a different direction it gives the appearance of difference and that is at the basis of what a surface scratch really is. So if you think about it, a micro level, scratches to most surfaces are either a displacing or a removing of surface area. In theory a top coat will protect a scratch from occurring however in practice its only one component to creating a scratch resistant surface.
In general a higher texture combined with lacquer is a way to get an overall scratch resistant surface. Some woodgrain designs, for example may have a lighter texture from one supplier due to market demand and when you try to scratch it, the appearance is that that supplier's product is less scratch resistant however upon closer inspection you may find that if they put the same texture on they would get equal scratch performance. So its very difficult to judge scratch resistance between supplier if you are not measuring apples to apples. Since each supplier uses different textures and different lacquer/gloss level combos it also may impact the scratch resistance performance in that single color.
Another point is in the texture layout. Imagine a texture on a microscopic level and when a sharp object moves in a straight line it is removing hills on the tops of the texture. If the texture is spaced in a certain way to make the hill tops more random it can trick the eye into not seeing the scratches as easily. This can also be achieved by making different heights of texture in the emboss. Imagine at certain pressure points only knocking off a certain height of textures however with just slight more pressure it may finally break into the next layer of texture hills. Its another clever way to enable an object to glide across the top of the texture yet not see the scratch as easily with the naked eye. Surprised by this observation? As with any product, the expertise in product design combined with the marketability of its appearance all come into play in order to achieve a result. You may in fact, start to see all the complexity that goes into creating a 3DL.
You will also notice that dark colors show scratches more easily. Lighter colors absorb the light and blind your eyes to the scratches that are on the surface so to speak.
So, in conclusion, there are a variety of ways to make a scratch resistant 3DL... Lacquer, quantity of texture, color of design and texture layout on the microscopic level. The items just mentioned must also be used in proper combos to create the best affect.
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