Thermally Fused Melamine Is So Yesterday

By Rich Christianson | Posted: 12/07/2012 11:04AM


“Thermally fused melamine production complex:”-- I now admit I slipped in slipping that phrase into my November 2  blog, “Pfleiderer’s Retreat Complete with Pergo Sale.”

Truth be told, I was totally aware that a couple of months earlier,  members of the Composite Panel Association’s Marketing Committee and the CPA’s Decorative Surfaces Council unanimously voted to rechristen this class of widely used board products as thermally fused laminates.  But in the heat of pecking away at the keyboard to convert thoughts into written prose, the long-familiar term thermally fused melamine (or TFM) found its way onto the page.

In a news release, the CPA explained the reason for the name change, stating, “It is the collective view that the term Thermally Fused Laminate (TFL) is more descriptive than ‘melamine’ and appropriately unifies the decorative surfacing materials represented by CPA under the ‘laminate’ umbrella.” The CPA further noted that it was encouraging its members “to incorporate the new terminology into their marketing and communication materials to promote consistency across the industry.”

This sort of sweeping change does not happen overnight. It’s not like the CPA can flick a switch and an entire industry, from manufacturers and suppliers of TFL through the downstream chain of cabinet, store fixture, furniture and other manufacturers to instantly adopt thermally fused laminate or TFL in place of thermally  fused melamine or TFM. Indeed, I can only begin to imagine the thousands of wood products company websites, brochures, etc. that are in need of updating. (Feel free to do a web search for “thermally fused melamine” if you harbor any doubts.)

The first press release to be sent to Woodworking Network using thermally fused laminate in place of thermally fused melamine appropriately enough came from Flakeboard, North America’s largest manufacturer of TFL board products and also referenced in my Nov. 2 blog posting. Flakeboard’s release noted that all of the Wurth Wood Group’s branches will offer its MDF, particleboard and thermally fused laminate (TFL) products.

 For the record, the CPA notes that “TFL is made by fusing a resin-impregnated sheet of décor paper directly to a substrate. Heat and pressure activate the resin in the saturated TFL sheet, creating a cross-linked bond with the substrate. This effectively seals the substrate. Particleboard and MDF are ideal substrates for TFL because they are consistent, uniform in strength and free of defects.”

 Recent Blogs Posted by Rich Christianson

The Lacey Act, Plywood Antidumping and the Sen. Wyden Connection, 11-30-12

Pfleiderer’s Retreat Complete with Pergo Sale 11-2-12

A Cabinetmaker and His Robot 10-12-12

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About the Author

Rich Christianson

Rich Christianson is Associate Publisher and Editor at Large of Woodworking Network. During his 25+ years covering the wood products industry, Rich has toured hundreds of manufacturing plants throughout North America, Europe and Asia. His reporting has covered everything from the state of the industry and impact of wood imports to technology and environmental issues. In his current capacity he is responsible for editing the daily Woodworking Network Update newsletter and coordinating events including the annual Cabinets & Closets Conference & Expo and Canada’s biennial Woodworking Machinery & Supply Expo. He can be contacted at or follow him on Google+.

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Ron Leatherman    
Hutto, TX  |  February, 03, 2014 at 09:15 AM

I own a restoration company that specializes in the restoration of damages that have been incurred on construction sites. We repair lots of doors and during the past year we have been asked to repair "thermal fused" doors. When we repair a door we use a solvent to clean the area around the repaired area. When trying to repair one of these doors, the material will not take stain and the application of lacquer does not flow out properly. We have been doing this type work for over thirty years and have never had any kind of problem with other furniture or doors until we came against one of these πºª•ª§∞¥˙£§¶•*&^^%$%$#& of which I do not have an appropriate word to describe what we think about this product. When I read your article about the Melamine name being changed, I realized why. People who have used an inferior product eventually find out what it is and choose o discontinue purchasing it and eventually the product looses ground in the marked place because of what it is. In order to enlarge the market base, they choose to change the name and still peddle the same junk. My opinion is that there is a place for this junk, but not in a heavily used application. It will not last. It is no different than taking a group of thugs and criminals and dressing them up in three-piece suits and calling them congress. You can change the name but you cannot change the core reality of what it is. Thanks for your article. It sheds lots of light on the matter.


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