LIGNA: Handwork, wood and more

Hannover -- Germany’s manufacturers of woodworking equipment and machinery have responded to environmental concerns, resource scarcity and the 2009 downturn by channeling their innovation efforts into solutions that deliver efficiencies and cost savings. This new focus is as much a boon to small carpentry, cabinetmaking and joinery firms as it is to big industrial users. And what better place for these skilled woodworking trades to find out about this attractive new market than at LIGNA HANNOVER’s “Handwerk, Holz & mehr” show? LIGNA HANNOVER runs from 30 May to 3 June 2011 in Hannover, Germany.

Settling for less is a thing of the past. Now even small and medium-sized firms have access to state-of-the-art equipment that offers maximum throughput and space savings without costing the earth. An investment in the latest-generation of woodworking machinery is an investment in greater efficiency, precision and flexibility.

In terms of sawing equipment, the current trend is towards highly automated machines that can import and independently work to cutting optimization layouts. Even very small panel sizing saws now come with integrated cutting optimization software. Clever details like camera-assisted scoring saw positioning simplify horizontal panel saw operation and improve results.

LIGNA: Handwork, wood and moreCNC machining systems are now not only highly affordable; they are also easy to use, even for beginners. That’s thanks mainly to modern, highly user-friendly software interfaces. For instance, there’s a whole new generation of mini machining centers to choose from, not to mention compact window machining centers that have a footprint of less than ten square meters. Then there’s five-axis technology – up until very recently a total high-end product, but now available even in very small machines. Five-axis machines are a major plus when it comes to very sophisticated machining projects. There is also a growing number of multifunction machines coming onto the market. Some offer multiple functions, while others can machine multiple workpieces at the same time.

Hi-tech solutions such as lasers are making woodworking life easier in all areas. Lasers are used for marking planks in cut optimization planning as well as for assisting the actual cutting process. There are now four-sided planing machines available that use lasers to project the spindle positions onto the workpiece for easy optimization. The result: maximum yield for minimum material waste. But the real revolution is in the area of panel edge banding, where the best solution for seamless joints – and hence optimal furniture quality with no ugly glue lines – is a close-run race between laser technology and glueless plasma technology. New machines that can prepare conventional edging bands for laser edge banding may help clinch the changeover decision for small woodworking firms. Having said that, laser and plasma technology is in for some pretty stiff competition from a new coating process that uses hot-melt glue.

LIGNA: Handwork, wood and moreOn the surface finishing front, oblique sanding systems, once the exclusive preserve of large industrial manufacturers, are now attracting a great deal of interest among small woodworking firms. Carpenters, cabinetmakers and joiners are also benefiting from new halogen drying units that dramatically shorten throughput times and can even be used with mobile equipment.

These new developments offer superior energy and resource efficiency in many different ways – whether in the form of energy recovery through intelligent waste wood utilization, optimized extraction, pneumatic, electric and drive systems, or high-efficiency adhesive metering. And water-based varnishes made of renewable materials are a big step forward in the fight against pollution.

Wood resource scarcity is bringing lightweight solutions into sharper focus, including solutions that involve substituting other renewable materials for wood. Panels with integrated soundproofing and cabling are also highly promising. Advanced preservative treatment processes, modified timbers, and wood fiber-plastic composites for exterior use are further enhancing the attractiveness of wood as a material. The current state of the art in all these areas will be on show at LIGNA HANNOVER.

But for cabinetmakers, joiners and carpenters, efficient production is not just about machines and materials. Computer-aided design, planning and logistics solutions are just as important. For instance, significant efficiency gains can be achieved by integrating warehouse and production IT systems.

As a world-class trade fair, LIGNA brings together all the leading manufacturers and service providers under one roof. The exhibits will be complemented by displays of winners of current innovation awards. The spectrum ranges from new jointing technology for furniture production right through to a new, compact four-sided planer that will bring to an end the era of separate thicknessing and dressing planers.


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