NeoCon surprise: laser edgebanding shownGRAND RAPIDS, MI

– Stiles Machinery will present the capabilities of the Homag laserTec system that seems poised to radically change edge processing. Laser edgebanding, which uses a patented production technique employing specially extruded polymer edge materials with an integrated layer of laser-activated glue, provides a seamless edge on contours and eliminates the glue line on straight through edgebanding.

The Homag laserTec edgebander, which had its U.S. debut in October 2010 at Stiles headquarters, immediately bonds the edge material with the substrate, and is said to provide superior bond strength, and samples of Rehau and Doellken-Woodtape edgebanding material run through the laserTec show a visually seamless edge. The process eliminates the glue pot, and glue lines.

The laser system consists of oscillating mirrors and a 3,000 watt diode laser which is tuned to the various edge band materials  based on its wave length. The laser uniformly heats the glue layer immediately prior to contact with the substrate to be banded. Stiles says the Homag laserTec, which was shown again at Ligna this month, is adapted for basic materials including ABS, PP, PVC, melamine and veneer, and is available on Homag throughfeed or contour edgebanders.

The first of three laserTec laser edgebanders sold in U.S. was purchased by Fred Smith Store Fixtures, a 95-employee wood components manufacturer, in DePauw, IN near Louisville.  Company president Steve Smith will be at NeoCon to talk to visitors about the technology. His firm will take delivery on its laserTec after it is shown by Stiles at the AWFS Fair in Las Vegas in July. Stiles has also sold two other laser edgebanders to an office furnishings manufacturer.

"We're hoping this will open doors and get our name out in some new areas," according to company president Steve Smith. He will source the specially extruded polypropylene edgebanding material from Rehau in Europe. Rehau has announced plans to open a converting plant for laser edgebanding material in Montreal.

Smith says he expects the seamless qualities of the laser edgebanding will appeal to several markets. "Health care makes sense, since the seamless glueless line won't harbor bacteria," he says. "Office furniture companies that use powder coating would be candidates, especially since industry likes the seamless look."

Stephan Waltman, vp sales and marketing at Stiles is ebullient about the laserTec. “This is biggest leap forward in edgebanding processes in years,” he says. "Never before have we been able to achieve this remarkable level of seamless edge with traditional edgebanders. Not only have we eliminated the costs and inconveniences of conventional glue pots, we’ve achieved aesthetic quality you have to see to believe.”

The machine carries a significant price tag, $250,000 more than a conventionally outfitted edgebander. To converted existing inventories of edgebanding or for special applications, a Homag KBE 100 edge pre-coating machine is available, and the Homag machine can accommodate a conventional glue pot in addition to the laser system.

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