W&WP October 2004

Seven New Products Meet the Challenge


The 2004 Challengers Awards winners are an eclectic mix.


A machine that combines miter, mortise and tenon work into one space-saving unit. A tool-less bolt that eases countertop installation. A microwave oven that cures water-based finishes fast.

These are but three of the seven products that won Challengers Distinguished Achievement Awards at IWF 2004. The winning entries, selected from a panel of 12 judges, were chosen from an initial field of 118 products.

Following is information on each of this year's Challengers Award winners, in alphabetical order by company.


Accu-System's MMTJ

Mel Hatch, president of Salt Lake City-based Accu-Systems Inc., said he was pleased to win the 2004 Challengers Award for the model MMTJ single-sided CNC machine miter, mortise and tenon machine.


Hatch noted that 18 of these machines have been sold since exhibiting at IWF. He said the MMTJ is suitable for both small runs and large batches of frames.


The MMTJ's V-shaped tabletop allows machining of two parts at once, Hatch said. All referencing is done off one edge for accurate joints. A computer controls the X-, Y- and Z-axes, as well as the size of the mortise and tenon. "Changing from one program to another is accomplished in seconds," he said. The programs are stored and can be recalled later, as needed. (www.accu-systems.com)


FastCap's FlipBolt

Paul Akers, president of Bellingham, WA-based FastCap, said he is proud the company's new FlipBolt won a 2004 IWF Challengers Award, but he is quick to point out that the company does not deserve all the recognition.


"The real recognition should go to all of the innovators out in the field," Akers said. "The FlipBolt is great because it came from the shop floor. It is the result of the cabinetmaker innovating and not the engineer."


The FlipBolt is a tool-less countertop connector that utilizes a cam system allowing it to be tightened quickly without the use of a wrench. Akers said he thinks the tool-less feature was a major factor in winning the Challengers Award. (www.fastcap.com)


Giardina's Microwave Oven

Giardina Finishing's MOS system, which was noted for its production and environmental features by the Challengers Award judges, uses microwave technology to heat products in a "jet-hot air drying tunnel with or without UV."


The Italy-based company, which operates an office in Louisville, KY, said the system is designed to dry water-based products in less time than traditional methods for solvent-based products. It provides consistent heat through the drying tunnel and can quickly penetrate lacquer film. MOS also has an instant on/off feature that helps save energy.


Massimo Giardina, vice president, Giardina Group, said the MOS takes up less floor space and shops can use it for just-in-time production because of its high speed. "It is a flexible system that can be installed vertically or as a flatline system," he added. (www.giardina-usa.com)


ITW'S VTX Spray Gun

ITW Industrial Finishing won a Challengers Award for its VTX spray gun. Using jet impingement automation, technology from the fuel injection industry, the gun improves pattern coating uniformity and color consistency while reducing mottling and haloing, the company says.


Paul Micheli, senior product development engineer, said paints and stains tend to come out of spray guns in ligaments. In order to prevent that, he said, "our best chance was to pre-atomize the fluid." Inside the fluid nozzle assembly, four discreet channels impinge in the central chamber, breaking up the ligaments. What results is a hollow plume of fluid.


Micheli said wood finishers using the VTX gun are "going to use less materials, less overspray, and rework will be less. The customers who have used it are astonished by the quality of atomization and color repeatability."

"This application is unique in woodworking," Micheli added. "We feel it's going to radically improve quality in the woodworking industry." (www.itwif.com)


Mereen-Johnson's CamLock System

"Sometimes, the best ideas are the simplest ones," said Tim Brown, export sales manager of Minneapolis-based Mereen-Johnson on the development of the award-winning CamLock System.


While looking for ways to refine the company's spacer-free, saw blade-locking system, Brown hit upon the idea of using centrifugal force, generated by the rotation of the ripsaw arbor, to lock the saw blades into place. The patent-pending CamLock System, which is already in full-scale production, also features individually spring-tensioned, position-locking cams that hold each blade in position until the arbor is started.


"It works on an eccentric cam and can be hand tightened. When you start the arbor, the centrifugal force really locks on them," Brown said.


According to Brown, saw position changeover is easily accomplished by stopping the saw arbor, moving the saw blade to the new position and restarting the arbor. (www.mereen-johnson.com)


Vortex's Diamondback Router Bit

The high feed rates of solid carbide tooling meet the long life of diamond tooling in Vortex Tool Co.'s Diamondback router bit.


"It was a very labor-intense development," said Mike Serwa, vice president sales/engineering of the Schofield, WI-based company. "There are PCD-tipped bits out there, but no PCD helical bits like this one. It's the helical geometry that allows it to machine much faster than any other PCD bit on the market," he said, noting that it can run at up to 900 inches per minute.


The Diamondback features PCD-fused cutting edges bonded with a patented process. The company says the cutting edge material is impervious to chemical corrosive wear, which greatly extends its cutting life.


Serwa said a 1/2-inch-compression Diamondback bit underwent 130 hours of testing on a 3-axis CNC router with great success. He said it is ideally suited for machining abrasive man-made materials including particleboard, MDF, plywood and melamine. "We think that companies will especially find it valuable for nesting applications because the run-time is so long." (www.vortextool.com)


Wood Technology's Evolve Hinge

Evolve, a silent-closing hinge from Wood Technology Inc., incorporates pneumatic technology into a clip-on hinge. Its hidden actuator automatically closes a door at 80 degrees, allowing for hands-free, soft closing.


Mark Fink, president of Wood Technology, Pittsboro, NC, said, "It has been 30 years since the European concealed hinge was introduced to the North American market and there haven't been any significant changes until the development of this product."


Fink said Evolve was two years in development. It is currently available only in a full overlay version, but the company is working on new versions for partial overlay and inset hinges. Plans are also in the work to develop a face-frame base plate, he said. (www.woodtechnology.com)


Michaelle Bradford, Rich Christianson, Sam Gazdziak, Karen Koenig, Helen Kuhl, J.D. Piland and Lisa Whitcomb contributed to this report.


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