Membrane presses such as made by Wemhoner and Burkle or even as an add on for Almex, Italpresse or Orma utlize rubber or silicone membranes to both transfer heat and to apply positive pressure on the components being pressed.
Types of membranes
There are various types of membranes such as rubber and silicone. Rubber membranes are less cost but are harder and do not get into the routered out profiles as well. Silicone membranes are softer and able to press into the profiles better however can be brown to tearing and blowing out. With silicone membranes you can different shore types which means different hardnesses as well as different thicknesses. Some manufacturers utilize different color membranes to signify different hardnesses however that is only to tell them apart.
It should be noticed that membranes can come textured on one side and smooth on the other or rough both sides, smooth both sides. Manufacturers sometimes apply the textured side towards the components because they find that it releases the sticking and enables the vinyl to move and not get trapped under the membranes pressure. Doing this can sometimes transfer the texture to the components surface giving the component an unintended fabric like appearance.
Why membranes are blowing
Membranes do have a certain life to them based upon constant stretching. Usually this is measured in cycles however you might shorten the life by how you use the membrane. Below are various ways you might shorten the life of a membrane.
1. Sharp corners: Some companies press cabinet sides or components with too sharp corners. This can drastically reduce the life of your membrane. An alternative solution is to flat laminate panels via 2 part epoxy using a glue spreader or a PUR lamination line. The second solution is to design your components with a more eased edge to lengthen the use of your membane.
2. Component spacing: The next thing that can damage a membrane is leaving too much distance between the parts. You can use a jig or long dummy components and this will keep the vinyl from over stretching or sliding across the table as well as the membrane from pulling too hard on the corner. Another issue can be having the components too close to each other but this is a less common issue.
3. Membrane tension: It is important to have the right tension of the membrane installed on your press and this is based upon the hardness of your membrane and type of press you have. This will require some trial and error.
4. Press settings: When I work with companies to dial this in I usually figure out how they are using their press now and what settings that press has. The membrane should have an adequate temp and not be too hot or too cold. Based upon the settings there may be ways to let the heat and vacuum stage to do a bit of the work. This seems like a small thing but based upon hundreds of cycles the settings can work your membrane a bit less.
I hope that you have found this article helpful and be sure to share with me your tips by commenting and if you are having issues simply email me your press settings.
Color inspiration from around the world, backstories on design inspiration and informative articles about marketing, membrane pressing and personal development. Author Mark Viers delivers fresh content that will help you and your business grow and thrive.
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