Hannover. The ever-increasing rate of change in the working world is prompting many people to withdraw into their own four walls and invest more heavily in their home environments. Companies wishing to capitalize on this “homing” trend need to supply top-quality products that are highly customizable and sustainable. These developments have sparked a proliferation of new surface finishing technologies for home interiors, including some quite spectacular innovations. In response to this trend, LIGNA HANNOVER 2011 (30 May to 3 June) will have a whole display category dedicated to industrial surface finishing, enabling visitors to quickly gain a comprehensive overview of the current state of the art. In fact, true to its official motto, “Making more out of wood: Innovation – Efficiency – Vision,” LIGNA HANNOVER 2011 will cover the entire value chain, from coating materials through to production systems, auxiliary materials and services. All the leading suppliers will be there.

The surface finishing displays will have a strong focus on design and surface treatment as a means of introducing greater diversity into furniture and flooring products. High-gloss and matt finishes are important parts of the design mix. So, too, are tactile and visual texture. Some artificial films almost feel like wood to the touch, while real wood veneers are finding their way into high-end high-tech applications suitable for use even on three-dimensional objects. Customers are increasingly driving the choice of motifs. Their preference for natural designs reflects society’s growing appreciation of wood as a natural, sustainable resource. Modern production processes can deliver laminates that look almost identical to rare, precious timbers.

Not surprisingly, customer preferences for individually designed surfaces place major demands on production technology. Along with gravure printing, digital processes offer an impressive solution, enabling manufacturers to turn almost any idea into reality cost-effectively – even in single-lot production. Thanks to the ongoing development of ever-more sophisticated systems, such as single pass printers, the color composition of printed surfaces has reached such a high standard that any distinction from veneer surfaces is now all but impossible. The same applies to gravure printing, where improvements in laser technology have resulted in a quantum leap in the quality of the finishes achieved.

Suppliers of wood processing technology have risen to the challenge posed by the market’s growing appetite for more sophisticated, individual designs by developing production solutions that offer a vastly improved degree of flexibility. The latest generation of wood processing systems is designed to cater for quick changeovers, large and small production runs and a diverse range of materials. They can also accommodate the market’s increasingly exacting quality requirements. For instance, the market for sanding machines is increasingly being dominated by modular systems featuring individually configurable components that enable the machines to be adapted to a wide range of requirements without any additional setup costs.

One of the big crowd stoppers at next year’s show will be a new production system that enables the seamless application of veneers to upper surfaces and long edges in a single step. The system can thus go from untreated particle board to fully laminated slab in a single run, thereby significantly reducing production times and facilitating “on the fly” veneer changeovers. Seamless (jointless) production is also big news in pure edge-banding applications. At LIGNA HANNOVER 2011, the specialists in this field will demonstrate glue-less and energy-efficient laser and plasma technology-based systems for creating perfect, seamless edges.

Technological advances have, in fact, produced improvements in a whole host of finished product properties. The latest impregnating systems and high-tech resins have led to major quality improvements in the popular high-gloss finish segment, while innovative, resource-efficient sealing solutions have significantly boosted the abrasion resistance and thus the service life of surfaces. On the quality control side, the latest intelligent surface scanning systems are able to “learn on the job” and distinguish new from known decor materials.

These fascinating new technologies testify to the innovative power of the surface treatment industry. And they will all be on show at LIGNA HANNOVER 2011 as an integral part of a comprehensive line-up of wood processing technology that is without equal in the world.

Source: LIGNA HANNOVER 2011

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