Flat lamination: innovative Jowat adhesive products for high-quality laminated furniture components
Herrljunga Träindustri AB is a medium-sized Swedish company specialised in wrapping and lamination processes of furniture components with decor paper foils, laminates and thermoplastic foils based on PP, PET, ABS/PMMA or PVC – extending to most unusual formats and without limitations concerning lot size. For many years, the company has established an excellent reputation in this segment. What started out in 1948 as a small carpentry shop is today a modern supplier of components and a subsupplier of high renown for companies in furniture assembly and the interior furnishing sector, which has at all times remained flexible while also adapting to changing market conditions. One factor that never changed was the company philosophy of matching the customer needs and expectations with a good product at the right price and in high quality.
A few years ago, Herrljunga Träindustri experienced a situation familiar to many companies in the industry. Large customers faced with price pressure, pass it down to the subsupplier, stipulating requirements on quality and quantity that impacted the production process, with the result of even more pressure on production while margins erode.
The corporate management decided on a fundamental change to find a way out of this critical economic situation and a real success story started to take its course. No longer were low-margin mass products manufactured for a limited number of large buyers but a flexible specialist emerged, offering a wide product portfolio to an equally wide customer base. The customers who are mainly small and medium-sized can profit from this flexibility above all with regard to the panel sizes for manufacture, the materials and the scope of supply. Presently, Herrljunga supplies profiled and flat-laminated furniture components in widths running from 8 to 1220 mm, and panel thickness from 3 mm (e.g. HDF) to 50 mm, under the headline “World’s Widest Wrapper.”
From the beginning, it was clear that for a successful transition, the means of production would need to be adapted perfectly to the new processes. Therefore, suppliers of modern engineering technology, innovative raw materials, panels and decors were selected according to equally high requirements.
Herrljunga Träindustri opted for machines and adhesive technology Made in Germany. A combination that has demonstrated to be well-adapted, reliable, and resulted in a very efficient production system.
Hot melt adhesives are the right choice for production at Herrljunga. The surface of wood-based materials is prevented from swelling due to the 100 % solid content of the adhesive – an essential product property and at the same time a basic requirement to achieve a laminated component with superior surface quality.
The product range of hot melt adhesives is very wide, with adhesives that are all composed of different raw materials and based on individual formulations. Herrljunga Träindustri worked closely together with the technical applications service of Jowat to choose the most suitable hot melt for their specific requirements.
Selecting the adhesive system: thermoplastic vs moisture-curing
In general, there are two different hot melt adhesive systems available for flat lamination: thermoplastic adhesives and moisture-curing adhesives. These two systems are differentiated in regard to their setting time and the resulting bonding properties, as well as to the polymer basis of their formulation that determines the cohesion of the adhesive (e.g. ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), polyolefin (PO), polyurethane (PU)).
From all hot melt adhesives, moisture-curing polyurethane hot melts (PUR HM) are the high-end solution due to their chemical crosslinking. They provide the highest bonding strength and class of resistance, for instance as required in the manufacture of kitchen and bathroom cabinets or furniture for high-moisture environments. They also ensure the highest heat resistance in the end product but are more difficult to process than purely thermoplastic adhesive systems. Choosing the appropriate adhesive requires balancing the requirements of the final product with the necessary processing steps.
Thermoplastic adhesives are real all-rounders. Expensive refitting during production is no longer necessary and costs can be saved since these adhesives can be relied on to bond a wide range of different materials. Thermoplastic adhesives are good-natured in melting, can be processed in fast cycles due to their high initial strength, and provide superior quality for almost all important lamination and wrapping operations. This combination facilitates an outstanding production efficiency while also improving the profitability of the company.
In addition, these adhesives also ensure an excellent surface quality, crucial for the finishing effect in laminating and wrapping. A thin and hard bondline is indispensable for a smooth, visually appealing, and resistant surface. The bondline must be highly pressure resistant to prevent flaws resulting from handling or stacking the panels. Another welcome advantage of the thermoplastic adhesives based on polyolefin polymers is their property to level out uneven substrate surfaces.
Advisory and professional competence
In close cooperation with the technical application service from Jowat, Herrljunga Träindustri decided on a thermoplastic adhesive based on polyolefin from the Jowat-Toptherm® group. Today, this adhesive is used by the Swedish company to wrap and laminate all furniture parts. The key factor for this decision was the broad adhesion spectrum to various substrates like particle, MDF or mineral fibre boards, as well as a multitude of papers, foils, and veneers. This made the adhesive the product of choice in a manufacture where versatility and effectivity are the most important considerations.
Availability and costs also played a major role in this decision. Unfilled polyolefin systems like Jowat Toptherm® adhesives can be applied economically. The high yield supports efficiency goals.
This Jowat-Toptherm® adhesive, developed and introduced by Jowat sets new standards in regard to performance and efficiency, and easily meets the high requirements of companies like Herrljunga Träindustri. The right product for any application from profile wrapping to flat lamination.
Herrljunga Träindustri already invested in engineering technology from Düspohl in 1981 and never regretted their decision. Now another Düspohl unit was purchased. The ability to laminate the most diverse components up to a width of 1220 mm and a thickness of 50 mm played a major role in the acquisition of the new PowerWrap machine.
A successful change of strategy
Herrljunga Träindustri has launched a new, more profitable business model in the Swedish furniture industry. The fusion with Göteborgs List & Träindustri AB (GLT) in mid-2015 was another milestone. With headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden, GLT was founded in 1945 and is renowned for wrapped profiles of any kind. GLT and Herrljunga form together the largest supplier and provide the widest range of wrapped profiles in Sweden/Scandinavia. For the future, the versatile company has a clearly defined objective: strengthening the position in Scandinavia and expansion to international markets. One thing is certain for the corporate management: “The company needs engineering technology and business partners that share our goals in this transition process if we want to remain successful on the market,” says Bo Alavik from Herrljunga Träindustri AB.
Herrljunga Träindustri was supported on the way to superior surface lamination by the technical application service from Jowat. Together, they identified the thermoplastic hot melt adhesive based on PO from the Jowat Toptherm® group to be the product that provides exactly the required adhesive properties.
The Swedish company now benefits every day from the advantages of being able to effectively coat a wide variety of decor materials and panels of sometimes unusual dimensions, without any refitting required to change the adhesive. This makes Herrljunga Träindustri an attractive business partner and a competitive subsupplier in the furniture and furnishing sector.
Efficient production – The result of an optimum interaction of all components
All thoughts at Herrljunga Träindustri focus on flexibility. Today even the manufacture of a lot size one is profitable.
Engineering technology and adhesive were perfectly adapted to match substrates, processes and production parameters. The desired versatility could be reached without substantial expenses due to professional competence based on decades of experience in profile wrapping, with engineering and adhesive technology Made in Germany. This system keeps production processes efficient and process costs under control.
The professional article is published in the magazine 'Surface-Magazin 2015 (Supplement Holz-Zentralblatt and HK, DRW-Verlag, Stuttgart) in German language. You can download the article down below.