Wilsonart shows off laminate display possibilities during media days
May 5, 2016 | 3:22 pm CDT
Wilsonarta-headquarters.jpg

TEMPLE, Tex. - Wilsonart, a maker of a variety of laminate and solid surface products, opened its doors to the media to preview some of the new laminate patterns it will unveil in coming weeks, as well as the development process that goes into its identifying trends for its new styles and product lines.

Included was a plant tour through it's impressive facility in Temple, as well as a visit to its new headquarters building, which was designated LEED Silver just last week.

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While upcoming  patterns and colors are still under press embargo,  previews indicate some exciting styles in the offing. Wilsonart's design team visits major furniture and cabinetry exhibitions and tracks design trends for establishing is design patterns. The creative process is intuitive and technical, as designs must be practical in terms of repeat length in production of standard laminate sizes. 

Wilsonart is also compressing its lead time, both in developnment of its stock laminate lines, and with indications that its short-run VDL (Virtual Design Library) laminate lines will expand, while its custom digitally produced Wilson ArtXyou is gaining traction, which more than 1,000 digital files of projects processed and printed on decorative paper through wide format, high resolution HP inkjet printers.

One practical application of digital print for a commercial project were tabltops for Taco Bell. The laminates prepared by Wilsonart's team for the project created a seamless surface in the brand multi-color theme desired by Taco Bell. Previously a labor intensive tabletop lamination mannually pieced together patterns from multiple laminate materials. The digital solution also eliminated seams between the lamiante sources. 

Wilsonart is also continuing its collaborative laminate series, working with outside designers.

It also continues to tap the wealth of design heritage that goes back 60 years since its founding. An example of this is the Boomerang line released earlier this year.

Wilsonart says finding small-scale, tone-on-tone, abstract pattern laminates in a variety of retro colors has been a  vexing problem for retro-style renovation projects. The boomerang designs are part of Wilsonart’s Virtual Design Library “Retro” category.

Layers in a typical melamine sandwich

A highlight of the event was a plant tour of its Temple, Texas, factory, which was built in 1986. The operation sheets the rolls of decorative papers printed by decor paper printers like Schattdecor, builds, coats them with melamine, builds them into sandwiches, then bakes them for an hour under pressure and 300-degree heat in towering presses.

Picking sheets for shorter laminate runs

Maintaining consistency of repeats and embossing the laminates with matching plates, is the key competency of the plant. Longer runs are mass produced in line, but orders for smaller runs of stock patterns are pulled from a picking room with 900 lower-volume patterns.

High pressure decorative laminates are made by saturating sheets of decorative and core paper with resins, then pressing them under high heat, producing a durable, versatile surface with a host of applications – from vertical surfaces to countertops, shelving and furniture. 
 
Wilsonart introduced Wilsonart HD in 2005 as the highest performing laminate for countertops. The company added enhanced scratch and scuff-resistant Aeon technology in 2009. Wilsonart HD designs contain both high performance features – scuff resistance and antimicrobial protection. 
 
Wilsonart carries out this process at  state-of-the-art manufacturing plants, one in Temple, Texas, near its headquarters; and the other in Fletcher, North Carolina.
 

 

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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.