Laminated products on HDF/MDF substrates have been produced to date in most cases by existing finished cork product manufacturers and manufacturers with existing equipment for foil or HPL laminating. These manufacturers found it a relatively easy matter to substitute the previous surface material by outsourced LVT material. Profiling takes place in the familiar HDF/MDF substrate, with only an optimized tool required for trimming the LVT top layer. As this product has similar strength properties to those of finished cork parquet, for instance, it can also be simply packaged and stacked ready for shipping using the existing automatic packaging plants.
"We consider laminated LVT to be only an interim product. The main advantage of LVT over all other options lies in the manufacture of solid products with a glue-free locking system profiled into the material. This is why our development efforts have concentrated on the profiling of thin, solid LVT products”, explains Roland Dengler, Flooring Team Leader at HOMAG Engineering. This threw up the following challenges:
- Profiling extremely thin and soft products. Transverse profiling presents a particular challenge here, as the products tend to yield towards the outer ends and have to be supported
- Prevention of “smearing” and melting of the material during profiling
- Prevention of shine, in particular in products with highly structured surfaces
- Reduced electrostatic charging of chips, so guaranteeing chip extraction
- Transport of extra-thin workpieces through the profiling and packaging system
- Creating a chamfer at the often highly embossed surface, in order to guarantee a good transition
As China, South Korea and Taiwan are home to 90% of the production capacity for the raw material, the majority of available profiling capacity is also located in this region. As a result, the initial development for this product was performed at HOMAG Machinery in Shanghai. HOMAG Engineering is able to draw on a fund of collective expertise in this field. Following the successful conversion of a plant in Korea, a contract is now in progress for the construction of a new plant for profiling solid LVT products. The new plant will produce LVT with an all-round click profile for a German manufacturer, and will soon be ready for delivery.
Experience gathered in Asia has been deployed to full advantage in the plants now operating in Europe.
With more double-end tenoners for profiling flooring elements dispatched in 2010 than in 2008 and 2009 put together, HOMAG is confident that this trend is set to continue over the coming years with the support of the new LVT profiling plants.