Experts share their insights with regards to developments in edgebanding machines.

Capabilities such as this nested-based copy system for the fine trim and scraping units, are helping users realize a fast return on their investment.

Photo courtesy of Stiles Shop Solutions

Edgebander experts were asked to take out their crystal ball and make predictions as to what they see is on the horizon for both large and small size shops that rely on edgebanding equipment.

“New developments coming for edgebanders include stations that are more versatile and combine several functions into one unit,” says Dan Hershberger, product manager at Holz-Her U.S. Inc. “In the past, most machines had stations dedicated to one application. Today edgebanding stations are much more versatile and can be easily changed from one operation to another by means of servo motors and the PC controllers being used. This helps to maximize the production time of an edgebander.

“PC controls are now standard on almost all machines, with the programs that they are running changing and improving continually,” Hershberger continues.

“Production tracking software built into the controller is another new addition to each edgebander allowing for constant tracking of a part or job from beginning to ending and is linked to every machine in the shop as well as the office. This allows for continuous monitoring of all parts and projects as they flow through a shop.”

“Fifteen years ago, mostly the high speed, custom-made machines and lines were automated,” said Peter Tuenker, president IMA America Corp. “Today, automation is available on every machine of every size. Controls and automation have become mainstream through standardization and mass production of the necessary components. This makes the serviceability of these automated machines a lot simpler.

“Controls, automation and high speed unit technology are available on all sizes of edgebanders at very competitive prices,” Tuenker adds. “This will challenge future buyers of this technology to come up with solutions on how to take full advantage of these features,” says Tuenker. “The standard feed speed on [one of our line of edgebanders] is already at 30 meters per minute (approximately 98 feet per minute) at a 400mm gap (approximately 16 inches) in between panels. That means that the machine is already faster than what an operator can manually feed. Therefore customers challenge us, and themselves, to come up with handling solutions for these machines.”

Scott Kamp, product manager for Brandt edgebander at Stiles Shop Solutions, says speed will continue to be a big factor in edgebanding technology. “We will see more increases in speeds and pre-milling will be included on more machinery instead of as an option. I also see an increased trend toward automation as it relates to contour banding at more affordable prices. Things like servo controls are being included on entry level machines. There is an untapped market of people doing custom banding by hand. They might not want to spend a lot of money on an edgebander, but when they see the impact of the machinery and the return on investment figures, they are astounded.”

Kamp says smaller shops now are able to take advantage of features that were once used by larger manufacturers. “The biggest change is the number of overall options such as pre-mill and PC-based controllers. Bar coding is big especially in nested based manufacturing,” said Kamp. “Customers are finding that they get a return on investment in as little as three months. Shops that were doing things completely by hand are astounded to see short payback times when they take advantage of automation. They also find that an edgebander offers the best bang for the buck since it is often replacing labor intensive work often done by hand.”

Edgebanding materials have spurred machinery developments, including milling units to provide an edge free of tool marks.

 Photo courtesy of Delmac

While increased options and increased production speeds and capabilities are helping smaller shops compete, they likewise are helping medium to large size manufacturers.

“In today’s demanding market,” says Ed Moran, North America product manager of Edgebanders and Systems, for Biesse America, “small to large shops must be capable of reacting quickly to smaller batch sizes and quicker changeover of panel thickness to the change over of glue types such as EVA and PUR. Manufacturers in all size shops need to be able to accommodate different materials with all types of finishes. The faster track speeds combined with the quick change type work units allow the smaller shops to take in some larger jobs to remain competitive,” he adds.

“As a manufacturer,” Moran continues, “we are non-stop in the development of better/faster/simpler to maintain/and easier to operate machines. The future will show more and more multi-combination work units with NC servo type commands and adjustments. Flexibility and speed is the focus in the future of edgebanders and there are certainly exciting times ahead in the development of these machines.”

Tuenker says manufacturers will continue to offer new and innovative options to help woodworking companies of all sizes remain competitive. For example, “The changeover for different edge thicknesses is completely automated. No operator has to touch the unit to changeover, from, for example, a 2mm to 3mm edge thickness,” he says. Tuenker also points to options such as a servo-controlled rotating single motor end trim unit, which works at speeds of up to 50 meters per minute (approximately 164 feet per minute) in gaps down to a minimum of 3mm (approximately 1/8 inch). “It is mostly used in high speed edgebanding lines, but can be used on our standard product lines of single-sided edgebanders as well. With this technology we are reaching the limits of what physics allows us to do,” Tuenker says.

Materials Spur Changes

In addition to improved speed and capabilities, Tuenker notes developments are being made in core and edgebanding materials. “Soon aluminum edgebanding, which already plays a big role in Europe, will play a big role here in the U.S. for high-end residential and commercial cabinetry. The other big product is the lightweight board. In a few years we will see a broad supply of lightweight board available to anyone in the U.S.”

Mike Lesch, application engineer with Delmac Machinery Group, also notes the emergence of aluminum edgebanding in North American applications. “One of the newest trends in the U.S. is solid aluminum edgebanding, in thicknesses from 1mm to 1.3mm,” says Lesch. “Aluminum edgebanding has already achieved popularity in Europe. [It] is available in rolls and must be anodized and/or primed to prevent oxidation, which will cause premature failure of the glue joint. Priming is also required to provide high quality adhesion. Another absolute must for proper adhesion is PUR adhesive. PUR is being used in more and more applications with all types of banding, due to its high heat resistance, as well as chemical and solvent resistance. PUR is specified as a requirement in most laboratory applications.”

Lesch says aluminum banding requires specialized machines equipped with “unique milling units, to provide an edge free of tool marks. These units also have additional guards and dust collection to reduce the amount of aluminum chips and special brushing units to restore the brushed look to the surface.”

Another must for aluminum banding applications, Lesch adds, is an “upper belt hold-down, as opposed to a wheel hold-down, to prevent the aluminum chips from getting between the hold-down and the panel surface, thus eliminating the gouging, denting and scratching that would come with using hold-down wheels.” Machines are available with special cutters for the four motor corner-rounding unit to provide a completely finished panel.

New developments for edgebanders include stations that are more versatile and combine several functions into one unit.

Photo courtesy of Holz-Her

More Options for Smaller Shops

Many of those interviewed say they see more and more manufacturers taking options once only available on large, high-production machines, and offering them on smaller edgebanders.

“Lower cost entry level machines are now available that provide options that in the past were only on high end machines,” says Lesch. “Two primary options now available are pre-mill and corner rounding. The pre-mill cleans up less than perfect edges and edges with a scoring groove to provide very high quality glue lines. Corner rounding allows the vertical corners of the panel to be radiused when using thick (2mm or 3mm) PVC, ABS or wood edgebanding.

“Many of these options allow the smaller shops to do more of the types of finishes which the current market is demanding and allows these shops to be ‘quicker’ to react to material changes/applications. We are seeing working units that at one time only did one type of finish now doing up to four different types of finishes/quick changes,” Lesch says.

Moran adds that smaller edgebanders also are being offered with higher track speeds. “In the past, many of these machines were only [offered] with single type track speeds,” he says. “The higher track speeds combined with the quick change features of the working units have truly stepped up the capabilities once found only on much larger machines. We are seeing more and more working units with multi-positioning/multi-profile tooling/auto-set type features to help in the process of changing from one edge thickness to another or changing from a bevel finish to a radius finish on the edge.” Moran adds that his company also is seeing machines become much easier to maintain with quick release glue systems and quick disconnect motors, which make it much easier for the maintenance staff or operators to get to the cutter heads of the units to change the carbide inserts.

“Large high production, high capacity edgebanders [have been] available with full 100 percent servo control adjustments for every function of the machines. The edgebanders can be equipped with as many as 25 servo motors with precision adjustments as fine as 0.01mm,” says Hershberger. “Over the last few years, this level of automation has slowly worked its way down to the smaller machines, where we now offer smaller, lower production edgebanders that have full 100 percent servo control capabilities on smaller machines that may only run a few days or few hours a week. The fully automated controls serve both types of customers nicely. For the large, 24/7 production facilities it can eliminate down time for changes or adjustments. The smaller shops benefit by being able to be very productive with very little manpower,” he adds

“Another benefit of this level of automation is the ease with which a machine can be set up and operated, almost eliminating the need for a dedicated ‘expert’ to operate an edgebander,” Herschberger adds.

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