HANNOVER, GERMANY - Several LIGNA 2013 exhibitors demonstrated how edgebanders equipped with compressed air stations can achieve an invisible glue line at a much lower investment than laser edgebanders.

Homag, Biesse, Hebrock and Felder were among the companies that introduced hot air edgebanding at LIGNA. Representatives of each of these four companies said compressed hot air units, priced at 20 percent or less than the cost of laser units, can apply edgebanding materials featuring a co-extruded polymer glue layer to create a zero edge glue line.

An invisible glue line is not only coveted for its aesthetics, but also for its anti-bacterial beneifts making it ideal for health-care, restaurant and other public furnishings. In the past year, Wood Products magazine has profiled on a pair of companies using Laser edgebanding technology, Shenck Architectural Panels in Calgary, AB, and Premier EuroCase of Denver, CO.

Carl Stout, president of Martin Woodworking Machines Corp., exclusive North American importer of Hebrock, said, "The processing of coextruded – called – 'laser edge” – was previously reserved for industrial machines with more expensive laser or plasma technology. Large office furniture and kitchen cabinet manufacturers increasingly use this new edgebanding material and technique because of the high quality “zero joint” that is achieved."

Federico Broccoli, president of Biesse North America, said his company is so high on the hot air technology as a cost-effective alternative, that it chose not be display a laser edgebander at LIGNA 2013. He said he think the Biesse AirForce hot air technology will supplant laser edgebanders in the market.

Biesse also displayed a Stream edgebander that was retrofitted with an AirForce unit. The company emphasized that the results of such a retrofit will be greatly influenced by the capability and condition of the edgebander.

Representatives of Stiles Machinery and its major machinery supplier Homag agreed that compressed hot air technology will allow more companies, including office furniture and kitchen cabinet manufacturers to make parts with invisible joints, but added that lasers will remain popular for larger volume operations. Homag's commitment to laser technology is evidenced by expanding its laser program to include three different laser systems with higher power lasers allowing for fasgter feed speeds.

Homag calls its hot air system airTec and showed it on three Brandt edgebanders at LIGNA. The hot air unit reactivates the glue layer on the edgebanding material. At its Innovation Center, Homag also revealed plans to offer hot air stations on its contour edgebanders, such as Homag BAZ CNC machining centers with edgebander capabilities.

"Airtronic" is the name Hebrock crhistened its first entry into hot air edgebanding. It is available on the company's 3000 series of edgebanders, starting the Topp 3001 F entry-level model. Stout said, Hebock's Airtronic hot air method can also use conventionla hotmelt glue, including color change, as well as PUR and laser edgebandings.

Felder's introduction of hot air technology, which it calls Laser Edge, was displayed on its Perfect 710 edgebander. The name Laser Edge is not literal, but an homage to hot air's ability to achieve an invisisble edge just like a laser edgebander, said Andy Gombaez, general manager of Felder Canada.

Holz-Her, Division of Weinig, is taking a different approach to achieving a seem-less glue joint. At LIGNA, Holz-Her displayed its new Blu Jet System which can be mounted to its ARCUS and CONTRIGA series of edgebanders. Holz-Her said the Glu Jet XL allows users to process more economical 2 kg PUR glue cartridges. Edgebanders can be equipped with a pair of Glu Jet stations so that while one station is operating, the other can be automatically retracted and put back in operation at the touch of a button for continuous operation.

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