A NeoCon surprise: wood-grain powder coating uses sublimation technology
SiS Ergo's Sean Dimmic explains electrostatic powder coat surfaces of Fiello work tables at NeoCon 2016.

Here's a quick take on things we saw so far at NeoCon 2016 that made us stop and take notice:

Sublimation dye transfer powder-coating MDF

This prototype demonstration of work surfaces was so arresting I walked in to the SiS showroom just to admire the countured, live-edge look. Then Sean Dimmic, Midwest sales manager, told me it was dye sublimation powder coating, on MDF. The technique penetrates into the wood, Dimmic said, and so bonds tightly. 


What makes powder coating stick to wood?

Powder coated wood manufacturer GCC Coatings, South Beloit, Illinois, says it has built a library of articles revealing the details about how powder coating works.

An intermediary transfer sheet takes the powder coat material as a multi-color image (the technique used in fabric printing). It employs an eletrostatic printer, and the "toner" is powder coat material. Images can be calculated digitally to  match the contours of the tabletops - in this case looking a bit like live edge that has been shaped to a smooth contour. 

Immense tables for conferencing or collaboration  

Tryg tables by Tuohy Furniture (below) are a good example, but we saw these immense tables in multiple showrooms, including David Phillips designed Equilibrium, above, which can be sized up to 240 inches in length; and Traverse, a collection of conference tables manufactured by Okamura and HOK Product Design.

These maxi tables are sometimes beveled to taper to a fine point, but most striking is the unimpeded seating they offer - legs are in the center, giving a cantilevered trestle table effect, and lots of knee and legroom. 

Wood tailoring: stitching together wood panels

International Contract Furnishings displayed a line of Julius chairs at NeoCon featuring upholstery sewn directly into wood. The designers Färg & Blanche at their atelier (above) also have adapted heavy duty sewing machines to sew wood panel together. Striking! 


Auditorium seating that pops up out of the floor

Sedia blew us away last year with its  JumpSeat, which uses a hinged,  kerf-cut plywood base to fold up seats way tighter than a normal auditorium chair - allowing narrower aisles between rows, and easier passage.

Now they've added servo motors and the ability to create an empty space that converts to a seat-filled auditorium. The system is powerful enough to handle a dozen pop-up banks of JumpSeats seats per unit. 

Dyed and formed engineered veneer 

Hardwoods Specialty Products brings its new natural interior surfacing solutions for the architectural and design community to NeoCon 2016, including fire rated composite board, and Echo Wood, an engineered veneer moulded to match exotic and wood grains and colors. After hearing the presentation Global Wood 101 by Grace Jeffers at NeoCon, alternatives to exotics will be in demand as governments around the world crack down on endangered wood exports. This material seems to originate in China. It does represent a trend, too - dyed MDF and other pael products are popping up. 


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About the author
Bill Esler | ConfSenior Editor

Bill wrote for WoodworkingNetwork.com, FDMC and Closets & Organized Storage magazines. 

Bill's background includes more than 10 years in print manufacturing management, followed by more than 30 years in business reporting on industrial manufacturing in the forest products industries, including printing and packaging at American Printer (Features Editor) and Graphic Arts Monthly (Editor in Chief) magazines; and in secondary wood manufacturing for WoodworkingNetwork.com.

Bill was deeply involved with the launches of the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum, and the 40 Under 40 Awards programs. He currently reports on technology and business trends and develops conference programs.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Bill supports efforts to expand and improve educational opportunities in the manufacturing sectors, including 10 years on the Print & Graphics Scholarship Foundation; six years with the U.S. WoodLinks; and currently on the Woodwork Career Alliance Education Committee. He is also supports the Greater West Town Training Partnership Woodworking Program, which has trained more than 950 adults for industrial wood manufacturing careers. 

Bill volunteers for Foinse Research Station, a biological field station staddling the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland, one of more than 200 members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations.