Exhibitors representing seven products will be feted as 2014 Challengers Award winners during an Aug. 20 opening day ceremony at the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta.
I have had the privilege of seeing several of the 20 finalists in action, plus have written articles about many of the others on WoodworkingNetwork.com. Based on my personal observations, interviews and readings, it is safe to say that the judges have their work cut out for them to select the seven winners out of the final contenders. Nor was it easy to winnow the original field of 61 to 20.
Stiles Machinery represents an unprecedented five finalists, including the Homag Group’s airTec hot air edgebander. One of its challengers is a hot air edgebander made by Hebrock and distributed in the U.S. by Martin Machinery. Both machines were introduced at LIGNA Hanover last year as a less-costly alternative to laser edgebanders to achieve zero edge glue lines on panels.
Weinig/Holz-Her have three Challengers finalists. One of them, Weinig’s Powermat, includes a new CNC structuring surfacing moulder. This machine is the next generation of a Weinig moulder used at Great Lake Woods to add a random texture to wood, that I wrote about in July 2010. Another finalist, the Holz-Her Evolution CNC vertical machining center, was the subject of a video interview I conducted at the 2014 Cabinets & Closets Conference, where it made its North American debut.
Other finalists I wrote about include Leitz’s DFC Dust Extraction Hood, Graco’s ProMix PD2K, designed to reduce finishing material waste; AikenControls’ nDepth 3D Sensor, a lumber defect detection system; and the Friulmac Randomax Evo which combines wood defecting and end matching.