LAS VEGAS – A strong lineup of finishing experts shared their knowledge of wood finishing at the Finishing Symposium held by Woodworking Network and FDMC Magazine the day before AWFS Fair.

The full-day event explored new technologies and best methods that finishers could use in their business. Newer finishes such as polyester, polyurethane and UV finishes were discussed, along with water-borne and low-emission products, and powder coating.

Phil Stevenson of AWFI, a leading finishing consultant, talked about knowledge power versus tribal knowledge in the pursuit of creating a finishing system. The idea is to create a system for finishing within a company rather than training a person that could leave the company. That can be a challenge, as Stevenson said that finishing can include eight to 10 steps, and as many as 35 substeps. Finishing by the numbers, measuring and understanding what is done can lead to a lasting system.

New technology was the focus for Wayne Blackwell of Sames-Kremlin, who brought attendees up to date on self-learning processes, light curtains, robots in finishing, advanced controls and automation. He also recommended that companies have an outsider conduct a three-day system review of their finishing

Phil Evans of the University of British Columbia reviewed current research in wood finishing, based on work that he and his students have done on topics such as the causes of grain raising, how higher moisture content in wood can darken finishes, and new research to measure atomization characteristics of each spray gun.

Jason Chiu of Centre for Advanced Wood Processing at UBC asked attendees if their finishing operation is profitable. He said 25 percent of manufacturing cost is in finishing, but it can increase the value of the finished product by 50 percent. He looked closely at the sanding process, and on tracking the cost of quality.

Pierre Letellier of Decoboard Enterprise in San Bernardino, California, describe his company's panel coating operation and the challenges of finishing in California. He provided a detailed look at the high efficiency roll coating operation and flat-line finishing. He also provided recommendations for buying finishes.

Andrew Walton of Keyland Polymer Material Sciences, a maker of powder coatings, explained UV-cured powder coating chemistry and attributes of these coating materials applications, and compared UV and thermal curing.

David Jackson of Gemini, a manufacturer of wood finishes, described finishes that many shops have not yet adopted, such as polyester, two-component polyurethane and some UV finishes.

Les Smith of Sherwin-Williams spoke on what's new with waterborne coatings, and the many advantages of that finish.

Participating companies and specialists were available to answer any direct questions about finishing materials, equipment and methods. Milesi Wood Coatings was the sponsor for the event, held in the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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