Hybrid - While this word often conjures up thoughts of fuel-efficient hatchbacks, it is an increasingly important term that we are embracing in the woodworking industry. Hybrid technology, like the blending of gas and electric engines in a car, creates a system where the sum of its parts is greater than each individual component on its own.
For us, this mixing of two unique materials comes in the form of MDF (medium density fiberboard) and solid wood. It means that we can use new and old technologies and materials in tandem to produce a high quality product, and our hybrid cabinet doors offer our customers the best of both worlds. Not only do they have the look and feel of our traditional wood products, a natural wood frame coupled with an MDF panel, but they also possess the attributes and properties of MDF that manufacturers have been perfecting for decades.
An engineered wood product made of broken down wood fibers, wax and resin, MDF was originally introduced as an alternative to solid wood products in the 1980s, and quickly took off in markets around the world. Today, production takes place in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Oceania, with a majority of North American production centered around the the Pacific Northwest and eastern Canada.
Unlike hardwood and softwood, MDF resists the natural expansion and contraction from changes in humidity, weather, and temperature. Since it is resistant to these fluctuations, it is less likely to become distorted, warped or bow over time. These unique features mean that when MDF panels are is combined with a solid wood frame, like in a hybrid door, the result is a strong and high quality finished product that will hold up to the elements.
Another admirable quality of hybrid doors is the overall consistency in the products. In solid wood products, there are variations in the grains, knots, and unpredictable defects in the wood itself. MDF panels eliminate this problem. The reliability in the production of MDF results in a dependably smooth and blemish free surface that allows for uniform paint and adhesive absorption across the panel face and core.
Not only is MDF strong, expansion and contraction resistant and can eliminate the problem of poor consistency and defects, but it is becoming increasingly environmentally responsible. MDF can be made of a variety of materials, and companies are constantly working on testing non-toxic resins and binders, and using recycled materials and wood scraps.
Hybrid doors are a rising trend in the industry that we are proud to offer our clients. In 2011, just three years ago, we shipped over 62,000 of these hybrid products. That number increased to 94,000 in 2012 and 155,000 in 2013. Through the end of May this year, we are averaging 18,000 hybrid pieces per month. To put that into perspective, we will sell and ship more hybrid panel products this year than we did in 2011 and 2012 combined.
The interest in MDF products and hybrid cabinet doors sees no sign of slowing down, and what started as a trend looks like it is here to stay. With advances in environmental sustainability, higher quality and faster production methods and new styles and combinations, we can’t wait to see what the future of this brings. It’s really the best of both worlds.
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