A true classic that keeps its hold
Whether it’s the wall unit from grandmother’s living room or the kitchen in your parents’ house, three-dimensional fronts were all the standard in furniture manufacture until just a few years ago. Today, this country-house style is becoming rarer, but 3D fronts are no less fascinating – it’s just that they now follow new trends.
Many designs and colours are available without any difference in price and quality since most of these items of furniture are built using medium-density fibreboard (MDF). They are clad in PVC or other thermoplastic laminate layers so their design matches the customer’s specifications. The quality and lamination on three-dimensional surfaces can be improved significantly by choosing the right adhesive and laminates.
But there are a huge number of stumbling blocks that must be avoided in the manufacturing process. This includes proper storing and preparation of the substrate, correct application of all the manufacturing factors such as adhesive application quantity, sufficient drying, optimum press parameters and, not least, quality control to ensure that the finished products match their performance requirements. Jowat and its partners are constantly working to simplify the 3D cladding process.
20 years ago, Jowat revolutionised 3D furniture lamination by developing one-component polyurethane dispersions. The dispersion is already mixed with the crosslinking agent and ready to use. Compared with alternative products made of two components, this allows processors to save a great deal of time and means they no longer need to take pot life into account. Even dosing and stirring mistakes when mixing are now a thing of the past. One-component adhesives are now used for most laminating purposes. The lateral edges and three-dimensionally milled areas are sprayed with the dispersions twice. The surface is coated with the first layer to even out the board’s fine pores and fibres on the cut edges and milled areas because the dispersions tend to penetrate in those places. After a short drying period, another coating is added to this layer. The adhesive amount is increased in joints and ornamental three-dimensional surfaces for an even result. Flexible vacuum and membrane presses ensure a reliable lamination of the film on the MDF boards. The adhesive is optimally reactivated during the coating process.
Jowat continues to further develop its Jowapur® dispersion adhesives, which have become a key component in furniture manufacture. A few years ago, the product range was expanded to include the latest one-component polyurethane dispersion: Jowapur® 150.93 can be applied as a particularly fine mist and can be used at lower temperatures than with comparable products, making it especially interesting for treating high-gloss panels. Numerous users have made the switch to this new formulation since its market launch.
But even the best products need to be handled responsibly. During processing for example, the ambient temperature and humidity are key factors in whether the lamination will work as promised. Because of this, the German Adhesives Association (Industrieverband Klebstoffe e.V.) has teamed up with manufacturers such as Jowat and Wemhöner (see interview in Jowat Magazine 1-2018) to develop the “3D Front Production Quality Guide”, which provides information on how to properly handle foils, adhesives and panels. In addition, Jowat also provides individual advice on all aspects of the lamination process to its customers.