This month, CWB talked to edgebander manufacturers to provide its readers with invaluable information on developments being made in pre-milling stations, as well as new safety improvements. Highlights of the responses appear below.

What developments have been made recently in pre-milling stations, and how are they impacting machines at the entry to mid-level price range?

Scott Kamp, product manager, Brandt Edgebanders, Stiles Shop Solutions: Machines with pre-milling (aka “joint trimming”) have been growing steadily in popularity over the past several years. This technology consists of two counter-rotational (to prevent blowout) diamond cutterheads that can be adjusted to allow the edgebander operator to remove a selected amount of edge material prior to the application of the banding. This material removal squares up the panel and removes any small imperfections from the edge. Owners of machines with pre-mill stations will attest to the superior glue line quality, which they produce on finished panels. They are also ideal to compensate for cutting solutions, which may have dull tooling or lack scoring blades.
 
Changes in cutterhead materials, as well as engineering advancements in the shape of the heads, will make these stations much quieter than they have been in the past. Improvements in knife design will also increase the useful life of the tooling and provide better dust extraction than earlier versions.

Mike Lesch, edgebander product manager, Delmac Machinery Group: IDM has ED-System tooling, which works in conjunction with specially engineered dust hoods to improve dust collection. Also, tools have been redesigned to provide pre-milling of different panel thicknesses without having to change the position of the cutter. This has eliminated the need for positioning devices that increase the cost. It also reduces set-up time and eliminates damage to the panel from the operator forgetting to reset the cutter position.

Ed Moran, North American brand sales manager, Biesse America: The latest developments to pre-mill units has been to add high-precision Star or Rexroth linear guides, the same type of guides utilized on high-precision machine centers. This type of guide system helps to ensure a proper copy/flotation to the panel edge and basically eliminates the chance of vibration.

Another feature is called Copy System, which is very important, especially on a single-side edgebander. This system guarantees that even if the operator feeds the panel into the machine slightly off square to the infeed fence, the pre-mill unit will not cut the panel out of squareness. It is based on the same concept of the copy systems that must trace the panel on all other working units under the hoods of the machines.

Our company also has improved on the dual air cylinder system. This means that each motor on the pre-mill has its own activation cylinder and is more accurate in the “jump-in & out” process. Also, more pre-mill units are now being equipped with Servo adjustment, which allows the operator to make fine-tune adjustments and to have several different amounts of material removal always stored on the programming of the machine and ready for several edge thicknesses.

Peter Tuenker, president, IMA America Corp.: We have recently finished the development of a new line of entry-level single-sided edgebanders that we will present for the first time at the Ligna show in Hannover. These machines are equipped with a variety of new work units, one of them being a newly designed pre-milling station. The main focus on the design of this unit is in the improvement of the dust extraction at the cutterhead as well as ease of use for the operator for adjustments and tool changes. Other big improvements are in noise reduction and the use of standard components that are interchangeable with units on other IMA machines.

Jason Susnjara, vice president of marketing, Thermwood Corp.: A good pre-milling station with adjustable height tools, a programmed in-out tool in order to avoid chipping and the diamond tools itself, have an impact on the basic machine price from 30 to 35 percent of the basic machine cost.

Richard Hannigan, vice president of sales, Holz-Her U.S. Inc.: The advantages of pre-milling stations are now being recognized and acknowledged by small to medium-sized shops. The pre-milling station can provide a clean, straight, razor-sharp edge to the panel, prior to glue and edgeband application. This ensures a clean, tight glue joint, without chips in the panel surface. The station will also smooth the panel edge to reduce the possibility of “telegraphing” panel core imperfections through thin edgebanding. This can be important to some shops that are cutting panels on CNC routers using NBM. Tooling technology has advanced to improve dust extraction, chip load and machining finish. Software in programmable edgebanders has also improved the control and adjustment of pre-milling units to achieve the optimum results. Pre-milling units are also now available in a smaller, more compact form to utilize less space and not increase the overall machine size.

What are the newest improvements that have been made to edgebanders in the area of safety?

Scott Kamp, product manager, Brandt Edgebanders, Stiles Shop Solutions: Machines such as Brandt’s that are completely closed systems, with see-through sound coverings shielding the operator from all stations, including the magazine section, are some of the safest. On Brandt’s, each of the safety hoods is equipped with a time-delayed safety interlock switch that will not allow the hoods to be opened for nine seconds after the control power is turned off. This nine-second delay is designed to allow all moving parts in the machine time to stop completely before the operator has access to them.

Mike Lesch, edgebander product manager, Delmac Machinery Group: Interlocks on the sound enclosures provide a high level of safety. These interlocks prevent the sound enclosure door from being opened while the machine is in operation. Automatic set-up operations reduce set-up time dramatically, but also enhance safety because they reduce or eliminate the need for the operator to go "under the hood."

Ed Moran, North American brand sales manager, Biesse America: Edgebanders through the years have truly come a long way with the safety issues and away from the old fashioned free-spinning motors. Most edgebanders now have “electronic impulse motor braking systems.” This is a feature that will stop the cutterheads/motors as quickly as the operator is opening the safety hood of a machine. Another safety feature that is being added to edgebanders is a simple "lock-out key,” so that in order for the operator to get under the hood and get into the cutterheads, he or she must deactivate an actual key, either at the controller or on each individual safety hood.  By the time they turn the key to the off/open hood position, all the motors are 100% off and not spinning.   

Peter Tuenker, president, IMA America Corp.: Our newly developed edgebanders are quieter than previous generations of machines. They also have more advanced features concerning operational safety (i. e. one of our new safety features is to offer optional sound enclosures over the gluing area). The important consideration is always to make sure that adding these features does not complicate the day-to-day operation of the machine. The slightest oversight on the part of the equipment manufacturer can contribute to limitations and even to frustrations for the end-user over the lifespan of the machine.

Jason Susnjara, vice president of marketing, Thermwood Corp.: To cover with a safety door that is complete with a micro-switch for immediate machine stop whenever somebody opens the door of the glue pot area and edge entry is an important safety device.

Richard Hannigan, vice president of sales, Holz-Her U.S. Inc.: The trend is definitely toward programmable edgebanders, even at the entry level.  The machines can be changed from one application to another, without opening the safety hoods.   Adjustments to individual units can be made (in varying degrees) from the operator control panel.  This ability to make changes and adjustments reduces the amount of time the operator spends with the safety hoods in the up (open) position. Safety hoods are also now often controlled by timers tied to the individual work stations.  Since the deceleration of the tooling can be controlled, the hoods can opened as soon as the tooling stops rotating.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.