By Mike Wilson

The seven winners in the 2008 Challengers Award Competition demonstrated an affinity for green, lean and everything in between, with innovative products for reducing emissions and waste, while improving productivity in the workplace. In a special ceremony on Aug. 20, the winning companies, in alphabetical order, were: DUX Area Inc., DV-Systems/Delle Vedove USA, FS Cruing/FS Tool, Giben International, NAP GLADU, Super Thin Saws and WoodEye North America/Innovative Vision AB.

The winning products were culled from a record number 125 entries, submitted by 93 companies exhibiting at the 2008 International Woodworking Fair. The Challengers Award recognizes advancements in technology or significant contributions to environmental improvement and focuses on companies that have distinguished themselves by developing innovative technology in products, services, or manufacturing techniques.

“Although only seven products can win the award, everyone is a winner — the 93 companies that entered, the seven that won and most importantly the industry as a whole,” said Charles (Tommy) Tomkins, IWF 2008 chairman and president of Cresent Fine Furniture Co. “The IWF exhibitors who won the Challengers Award will receive worldwide media coverage and be recognized throughout the industry as leaders of innovation.”

Matt Carlson, DUX Area vice president of marketing, discusses the benefits of the award-winning Advanced Laminar Airflow Technology.

DUX’s Advanced Laminar Airflow Technology

DUX Area.’s Challenger-winning Advanced Laminar Airflow Technology for spray guns can reduce coating waste and VOC emissions, according to the company.

“The airflow technology allows users to spray at much lower pressures, which reduces overspray,” said Matt Carlson, vice president of marketing. “That in turn results in 15 to 40 percent in material savings.”

According to Carlson, the guns also reduce emission of VOCs, while producing a high-quality finish and feature a lightweight, compact design.

“The Challengers Award is one of the few awards to focus on both new technologies and the environmental benefits of those new technologies,” Carlson said.

DV-Systems/Delle Vedove Marketing Manager Sandra Stein and Vice President Vittorio Belluz stand next to the prize-winning UV-X Finishing System.

DV-Systems’ UV-X Finishing System

According to DV-Systems/Delle Vedove, the award-winning UV-X Finishing System cures 100 percent solid UV coatings while maintaining a cool substrate temperature through the use of mercury-free lamps.

“One benefit is the energy saving issues, another is that one of the issues facing manufacturers is that wood is heat sensitive,” said Vittorio Belluz, vice president. “It solves problems related to heat in the manufacturing process and results in up to a 70 percent energy savings.”

Belluz added, “The UV-X curing tunnel is a result of our strategic dedication to efficient finishing solutions with the least environmental impact. We’ve all worked very hard to make UV-X the most advanced curing option that is good for both our customers and the environment. This public recognition shows we’re on the right track.”

(Pictured left to right) Andy Willbond, vice president of operations, Tony Colangelo, president and Frank Horvath, marketing coordinator, show their recently won hardware, along with the tooling that brought the trophy home.

FS Cruing/FS Tool’s Aerotech Tool System

“The real problem with nesting parts on a CNC machine is that the process produces lots of dust. Even with a powerful vacuuming system, dust remains on the board. The Aerotech System tackles the problem by generating a vortex that picks up the dust right after the cut,” said Andy Willbond, vice president of operations, in describing the 100 percent, dust-free nesting system.

The award-winning tool design creates a tornado-like vortex that reaches along the cutter head, lifting dust, debris and potentially corrosive residues up and away from the cutting head, through the machined propeller blades and into a CNC machine’s dust extraction system.

Giben Intl Sales Manager Mark Craig stands alongside the company’s award-winning panel saw.

Giben’s Zero Drive Beam Saw

One of the reasons judges chose Giben Intl’s Zero Active Drive beam saw is because it is the only panel saw that does not require motors or electric cable and pneumatic hoses in chains on the saw carriage.

“It’s not a new machine, it’s a new way of building machines,” said Mark Craig, sales manager at Giben. “It allows for less power consumption and less board consumption without sacrificing performance.”

Giben’s Zero Active Drive combines speed, efficiency, accuracy, economy, reliability, silence, safety and innovation into one ground breaking new package, according to the company. The trade name “Zero” was used to represent the fact that Giben “started from zero” in designing the machine, rather than updating an existing beam saw product.

The Zero Active Drive beam saw incorporates six international patents, including on the pusher system.

Standing behind their winning entry are (pictured left to right): Kevin Biro, president, Yvon Gauthier, vice president of business development, Philippe Turcot, manager of research and development, Bill Wickett OEM Manager, Sylvain Santerre, engineering manager and Jeannot Perron, general manager.

NAP GLADU’s Next G Series Cutting Tool

NAP GLADU’s Next G Series of diamond and carbide inserts is the first tooling device to automatically position diamond or carbide profiled inserts in a single tool body, according to the company. This optimizes the cutting edge, which achieves higher precision and saves time when changing knives.

“We traveled and visited customers to get a feel for their needs,” said Kevin Biro, president. “We wanted to make it as simple as possible, with a one-screw fastening system and self-positioning carbide or diamond inserts.”

Users can choose to mount diamond or carbide inserts in the same tool body to optimize the cutting edge for different material applications, and can use one tool body for different profiles, he added.

Explaining the benefits of the new UltraCem Coated Blades are Michael Vetter, general manager of UCT Forestry, left, and John Schultz, president of Super Thin Saws.

Super Thin Saws’ UltraCem Coated Blades

Utilizing UCT’s patented UltraCem coating, Super Thin Saws’ blades run with incredibly slim tolerances, minimal friction, and limited deviation, according to the company.

“It’s really a combined technology that made the blades innovative — we combined the statically stiff STS blade with our unique coating,” said Michael Vetter, general manager of UCT Forestry, a limited liability company of UCT Coatings. “The biggest advantage of this is heat dissipation, we’re able to keep the thin saws much cooler than any other saw out there,” he added.

According to the company, UltraCem allows manufacturers to re-shape saw blade geometry with an unsurpassed tip-to-blade clearance. As a result, woodworkers can achieve the thinnest kerfs possible, maximizing material utilization with every pass of the ultra-thin blade.

WoodEye President Claus Staalner, left, and Jonas Dahlberg, application engineer, display the award.

WoodEye/Innovative Vision’s Grading System

WoodEye/Innovative Vision AB‘s Automatic NHLA Grading of Hardwoods received a Challenger’s Award for the first production-ready scanner capable of grading most hardwood species according to either NHLA or proprietary grading rules. All grading steps are implemented and presented for each grade tested, up until the final grade.

“As a company in the scanner business, we had lots of inquires about building a machine to grade hardwoods, so this was a natural step,” said Claus Staalner, WoodEye president. A major challenge, he added, was developing a grading algorithm, because the rules are developed for human vision.

The scanner uses several high-resolution cameras and detection methodologies to identify objects. These include: knots, cracks, checks, wane as well as colorations. Detailed statistics are archived for each board, making the scanner a resource in possible dispute resolutions.

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