By Ken McFadden

A common challenge when using a membrane press is eliminating surface contamination on 3-D laminate products. Outlined here are some guidelines for reducing contamination in and around the pressing area, thus reducing the amount of rejected parts.

• Cutting or routing of the parts using high-quality diamond tooling is the first step in producing clean parts. Routing speeds no faster than 500 inches per minute is optimum. Using worn or low-quality tools can lead to excessive loose fiber from the MDF. Also, ensure that there is adequate dust collection at the CNC router.

• To keep airborne dirt particles from adhering to parts, put the press and spray booth in a separate room with positive pressure. A positive pressure room has greater pressure inside than outside, making it difficult for airborne contaminates to enter.

It is also helpful to route and spray parts as soon as possible. Spray parts and the press after the glue dries to, again, keep debris from settling onto the parts.

• When unwinding the foil to run in the membrane press, use an anti-static device to avoid static clinging from the dust particles in the air. Contamination does occur with some materials more than others.

• Lastly, lightly rub each part with a brush or fine sandpaper to remove the burrs left from the glue. This is a quick process and can substantially decrease the number of rejected parts.
Membrane pressing can add unique and impressive design qualities to finished products. Make certain to maintain the quality of these parts by taking these simple precautions.

Ken McFadden is the Product Manager – Laminating and Material Handling, for Stiles Machinery Inc. For more information visit, call (616) 698-7500 or email

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