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Decorative Laminates

Adhesives — Dry Film Bonding Adhesives
Dry film bonding adhesives are non-tacky elastometric materials coated on a release liner and sold in roll form. The film adhesive is bonded to the edge backing material with low temperature heat and low pressure. The adhesive backed material is then heat-bonded at a higher temperature and thermo-set to the application surface.
Adhesives — Epoxy
A two-component thermosetting adhesive typically used for laminating medium and heavy gauge vinyls. Epoxy adhesives are generally bonded 1:1 (resin to hardener) by volume and are roll-coated to either the backside of the vinyl web or to the board surface. Wet lamination is followed by stack curing the panels from one to three days at temperatures above 50 degrees F. Solvent containing epoxies typically have better green strength (wet tack) than 100% solid systems.
Adhesives — Heat Seal Adhesives
These are systems are dry coatings on the back of flexible laminates. They are heat sealed to panels by rollers or quick presses at low temperatures and low pressures. They are applied and dried by the laminate producer, using water or solvent based polymers. Heat seal adhesives differ from hot melts in chemistry. They do not reflow upon heating. Also, they do not change with age. They adhere to most surfaces and they form a very tough bond.
Adhesives — Hot Melt
An adhesive which is a 100% solids thermoplastic and is applied molten to form a bond upon cooling. Hot melts differ from conventional liquid adhesives because they set by cooling, rather than by absorption or evaporation. In practice, papers are pre-coated with hot melt by the manufacturer; the hot melt is later reactivated by heat when the paper is laminated to substrate on the laminating line.
Adhesives — Polyurethane Dispersions
Polyurethane Dispersions (PUD’s) are aqueous dispersions of fully reacted urethane polymers containing hydrophilic anionic, cationic or nonionic groups noted for their high performance properties, excellent adhesion, chemical resistance, outstanding toughness and low pressure flexibility.
PUD’s are used for the membrane pressing of vinyl films and veneer to an MDF core. PUD’s can be used in conjunction with a hardener for higher heat resistance, if required.
PUD’s are usually applied by spraying on the MDF, air dried and then mated with the vinyl film or veneer in a membrane press. Typical membrane press temperatures range from 158 to 194 degrees F with cycle times of 20 to 120 seconds.
Adhesives — Pressure Sensitive Adhesives
Pressure sensitive adhesives are viscoelastic materials coated on a release liner and sold in roll or sheet form. The adhesive is sticky to the touch and can be applied to most surfaces with light roll pressure. Pressure sensitive adhesives bond through intermolecular forces of attraction between like or unlike surfaces, which resist separation.
The highest performing, longest aging adhesives are usually cross-linked high molecular weight acrylic materials. Pressure sensitive adhesive backed veneers are easy to apply and require no liquid adhesives.
Adhesives — Solvent Borne
An adhesive containing polymetric materials dissolved in volatile organic solvents. A small percentage of the cross-linker is added to obtain certain desired performance properties (i.e., higher heat resistance). This type of adhesive is typically used on a “hot line” laminator where it is applied in 2 coats to the board surface, dried and then heat activated prior to hot rolling the laminate to the substrate. Solvent borne adhesives offer good coatability, high heat resistance and excellent bond strength when laminating 2 mil and 4 mil solid vinyl films. When applied to composite substrates, solvent borne adhesives create little to no grain raise.
Adhesives — Water Borne
Water borne adhesives include both thermosetting urea formaldehyde systems, as well as formulated synthetic latex (usually vinyl latex) types. These adhesives are generally used for paper laminating, where the adhesive is applied to the web and/or board surface and tacks up through one or more heated rolls that combine the paper to the board. Water based vinyl acetate/ethylene (VAE) copolymer adhesives are often used for laminating 2 mil and 4 mil vinyl films to various board surfaces.
Coating Equipment
The purpose of coating equipment is to provide a thin layer of adhesive that will bond an overlay to a substrate. Adhesive is applied to the board, to the web or to both. There are a variety of coating systems.
When using a water based adhesive, part of the moisture is flashed off before laminating takes place. This aids in minimizing or eliminating fiber-pop or telegraphing after lamination.
Continuous Laminates
The typical construction of a continuous laminate consists of: a melamine-impregnated alpha-cellulose overlay on top of a decorative surface paper, superimposed over one or more phenolic or melamine resin impregnated papers. The laminate is formed on a continuous, double belt press at pressures of 125-570 psi and temperatures of 275 to 300 degrees F. The thickness is determined by the number of layers of Kraft papers and the resulting amount of resin that is absorbed, is normally 1/32” thick. The surface finish is achieved by using and transferring the texture from a steel caul plate or release paper.
Decorative Foils
Cellulose papers weighing 40 to 140 grams per square meter, untreated. The papers may be impregnated with melamine thermosetting resins or left untreated. Treating may add 20 to 40 grams of weight. Decorative foils require an adhesive for lamination.
These papers are referred to as “finished foils” in Europe. In the U S they are referred to as melamine papers, intermediate weight foils or impregnated foils. Impregnation has a direct effect on the internal bond strength of the paper, as well as the porosity and machinability of the laminated material.
Decorative Foils — Prerimpregnated
These papers are treated during the paper making process. They are usually treated with melamine and/or Urea formaldehyde. Additionally, they are usually treated with acrylic, which allows the sheet to remain flexible after the resins are fully cured. The resins are calendered. These papers can be chemically embossed and they may be available with pre-applied hot melt adhesives.
Decorative Foils — Unimpregnated
Usually untreated papers; although a small amount of resin may be added. These papers are usually top coated with a varnish.
Edgebanding Materials — Laminated Vinyl
This edgebanding utilizes vinyl laminated to vinyl, ABS or a paper backer. The carrier is generally rigid clear or colored PVC that is .010” to .030” thick. The surface is usually a reverse printed or solid color vinyl that is .002” to .008” thick. This edgbanding is rigid enough for automatic edgebanders and is suitable for straight-line or softform applications.
Edgebanding Materials — Melamine Edgebanding
The term “melamine edgebanding” covers a broad range of paper edgebanding materials, including: single layer printed products, laminated foils and continuous melamine laminates. It is produced in master logs and can be slit to virtually any width. Usually found in Europe, melamine edgebanding is an economical pre-glued and automatic product. It is suitable for straight-line, contour and softform applications.
Edgebanding Materials — Metallic Edgebanding
This category includes textured metals (brushed, polished, matte, etc.) or metallic transfer foils laminated to a backer in a master log. The material can be slit to virtually and width. This decorative edgebanding may be used as an inlay.
Edgebanding Materials — Polyester Laminate Edgebanding
Decorative papers, often matching HPL designs and colors, are impregnated with polyester resins and laminated to a variety of backers. This edgebanding is produced in logs and can be slit to any width. A range of finishes are available. Polyester edgebanding is produced in light weight and heavy weight versions. The heavy weight version is excellent for straight-line, contour and softform automatic edgebanding applications.
Edgebanding Materials — PVC
An extruded or calendered thermoplastic edgebanding made of polyvinyl chloride; used to match vinyl, paper, paint or HPL. Calendered PVC is manufactured in wide logs and slit to size. Extruded PVC is manufactured to exact width. PVC is available in numerous colors, patterns and woodgrains. A wide range of widths, thicknesses and surface textures are available. PVC is usually top coated with a UV cured resin for protection. PVC is used in straight-line, as well as contour automatic edgebanding applications. PVC is not recommended for softform applications.
Edgebanding Materials — Real Wood Veneers
These real wood veneers include a variety of domestic and imported hardwood (and some softwood) species that are available in different cuts (flat cut, rift cut, quarter cut, etc.). These veneers are sliced from 1/25” to 1/50” thin. They are available with plain, paper or fleece backs; with varying degrees of flexibility. The veneers may be finger or butt jointed, to produce continuous edgebanding. Veneer edgbanding is suitable for straight-line, contour and softform automatic applications.
Edgebanding Materials — Reconstituted Wood Strips
Man-made veneers manufactured in Europe or Asia. Light colored woods (Usually Ayous, Obeece, Koto or Italian poplar) are peeled, clipped, dyed and then re-glued into a rectangular block that is molded for the different cuts (flat, quartered, etc). The block is then re-sliced into leaves and slit to varying widths for edgebanding. These veneers can be produced into paper back or fleece back strips or coils for straight line, contour or softform automatic edgebanding applications.
Edgebanding Materials — Substrates
See composites glossary.
Flat Panel Laminating Equipment
Flat Panel Laminating Equipment — Cold Press
The cold press system has the advantage of being a smaller investment and utilizes less complicated technology but it does require a longer pressing time. This system is usually used for HPL and other phenolic backed laminates.
Adhesive (PVA) is applied with a glue spreader onto the substrate. Laminate is placed onto the substrate. The substrate and laminate unbonded panels are stacked and placed into the cold press, where pressure is applied for 30 to 60 minutes.
Flat Panel Laminating Equipment — Continuous Belt Roll Laminating System
The continuous belt roll laminating system is a more sophisticated equipment arrangement. Panels (particleboard, MDF, hardboard, etc.) are fed into the line, continuously, end to end. The overlays are applied from rolls to the adhesive coated substrate, on one or both sides, prior to bonding. Depending upon the adhesive system used, the process (bonding) may be completed by using either hot or cold calendar rolls.
Flat Panel Laminating Equipment — Edge Foilers
These are single or double sided machines that typically shape, sand and foil to a straight or profiled edge. The foil is transferred by heated silicone wheels, using pressure to match the desired edge profile. MDF is the most common substrate used with edge foiling.
Flat Panel Laminating Equipment — Edge Laminating Equipment
The function of edge laminating equipment is to provide a finished edge to a panel or a potion of a panel that has been surface laminated. A product with the porosity of particleboard may need to be edgebanded with a band thick enough to conceal the voids between the particleboard. Sometimes homogeneous cores with heavier density, such as MDF, can be banded with standard edge treatments or heat transfer foils.
Flat Panel Laminating Equipment — Edgebanders
Edgebanders apply PVC, HPL, melamine, polyester, solid wood and wood veneers to the edges of panels. Types of edgebanders include: single and double-sided machines, hot air, PVC, contour, straight-line and softforming variations. Edgebanders can be manual or automatic. They can apply edgings with or without coated adhesives. Many larger edgebanders have front end tenoning capabilities for sizing and shaping.
Flat Panel Laminating Equipment — Heat Reactive Roll Laminating Equipment
Heat reactive equipment utilizes decorative overlays that have a dry adhesive already applied to their backs. The laminating machine contains heated rollers which activate the adhesive, roll the overlay onto the substrate and apply pressure while the bond is created. There are no curing ovens required in this process. Bonding and curing are rapid.
Flat Panel Laminating Equipment — Hot Platen Press
Hot platen presses are internally heated single opening or multi-opening presses with flat or molded platens. The pressing times and the temperatures are determined by the adhesive, chemical and/or heat reactions. The thickness and composition of the core influence the pressing times and temperatures, as well.
A glue spreader is usually used to apply common adhesives. The adhesives used are urea formaldehyde, PVA, PVAC and phenolic resins.
Flat Panel Laminating Equipment — Low Pressure Press (TFM)
This system earned its name from the distinction between high pressure lamination, which utilizes pressures between 700-1400 PSI, and low pressure lamination, which utilizes pressures between 350 and 400 PSI. Low pressure lamination is a process whereby the resin saturated films are pressed onto the substrate (particleboard or MDF) with a pressure of 350+ PSI and a temperature of about 350-400 degrees F.
The resin is the bonding material. The resin liquefies under heat and pressure and is thermofused directly to the core. The resins form a firm cross-linked thermo-set material. The surface texture of the final product is set by the caul plates (or sometimes release papers), which are fixed to the hot press platens. The most common resin is melamine. Polyester and phenolic surface films are sometimes pressed. Phenolic resin films are mainly used on concrete form.
Flat Panel Laminating Equipment — Membrane Press
Membrane press technology, formerly known as the vacuum press system, is used for the lamination of molded (three-dimensionally shaped) substrates with veneers, vinyls and other materials. The adhesives are applied either to the core or to the laminating materials. The pressing process is performed with a silicone or rubber membrane, which forms the laminating material under pressure and heat over the molded substrate. In a membrane press, heat is applied to both the top and bottom. Pressure is applied only to the top and a vacuum is drawn from the bottom. The pressure used to complete the laminating process is about 105 lbs per Square inch.
The adhesives used for veneers are primarily PVA and urea formaldehyde. Vinyls are usually bonded with water based polyurethane, which is dried after application and reactivated during the pressing process.
Flat Panel Laminating Equipment — Profile Wrappers
Profile wrap machines apply an overlay to a preformed substrate, typically in pre-shaped molding form. The substrate is usually MDF but can be particleboard, solid wood, extruded plastic or metal. A flexible overlay, such as paper, vinyl, wood veneer or a metallic foil is applied to the surface of a molding. These machines usually utilize hot melt or PVA adhesives.
Flat Panel Laminating Equipment — Softforming Edgebanders
- Single and double sided softforming edgebanders are capable of applying either a flat or a shaped edge, such as an ogee. Most softformers have sizing and shaping stations, which mill the edge prior to the application of the edgebanding. Softform edgebanders can utilize either PVA or hot melt adhesive systems.
Flat Panel Laminating Equipment — Surface Foiling Equipment
This equipment takes a heat transfer foil and transfers it to the surface of a smooth substrate. The foil is transferred from the carrier film through heat and pressure. Because the foil is very thin, it is important that the surface is extremely clean of dust and other lose particles.
There are three additional foiling machines that can cover board surfaces, as well as their edges: bluff cut machines, random foilers and molding foilers.
Flat Panel Laminating Equipment — Vacuum Press
Vacuum presses are used for lamination of molded (three-dimensionally shaped) substrates with vinyls and other materials. The adhesives are applied to either the core or to the laminating materials. The pressing process uses a silicone or rubber membrane, which forms the laminating material under pressure and heat over the molded substrate.
In a vacuum press, heat is applied to the top of the press, while a vacuum is drawn from the bottom. Since only the atmospheric pressure is involved, the laminating process operates in the range of 26 lbs per square inch at sea level.
Vinyls are usually bonded with water based polyurethane, which is dried after application and reactivated with heat during pressing.
High Pressure Laminate (HPL)
HPL is constructed by sandwiching a decorative surface paper between a melamine impregnated alpha-cellulose overlay and a layered stack of phenolic resin impregnated Kraft papers. The sandwiched papers are pressed at temperatures exceeding 265 degrees F and pressures of 1,000 and 1,400 psi. The thickness is determined by the number of layers of Kraft papers and the resulting amount of resin that is absorbed. The surface finish is achieved by using and transferring the texture from a steel caul plate or release paper.
High Pressure Laminate (HPL) — Heat Transfer Rolls
These foils involve the transfer of a complete coating system from a carrier film to a substrate by means of heat and pressure. The foils are gravure printed in reverse sequence on a Mylar film. The release coat is printed first, followed by the pattern of a wood grain print, the ground coat and the adhesive. These foils provide both a decorative effect, as well as a protective layer.
Laminating Equipment — Board Drying Equipment
-Drying equipment is used to dry and cure any filling agent used to make the substrate smooth. The most frequently used systems are: high intensity infrared, high velocity air and UV curing oven.
Laminating Equipment — Board Preheating Equipment
This equipment is generally used in cold climates. The purpose is to stabilize the entire board surface for successful, consistent laminating, year-round.
Laminating Equipment — Board Resonating
Resonating occurs when a panel (PB, MDF, etc.) is passed under high pressure between two polished steel rollers that are heated to relatively high temperatures. The process causes the two resins (specie and added) to become liquid for the instant of pressure. The resin is calendered under the influence of the polished steel rolls and pressure. Crushing of the substrate’s top wood fiber cells occurs during this process.
Resonating improves sanding grit effectiveness or eliminates sanding altogether. This process can be used prior to laminating on either wet or dry systems.
Laminating Equipment — Cleaning Equipment
The purpose of the panel cleaner is to remove dust and chips from the board surface after sanding. This process usually involves a sweeper vacuum type of equipment. Brushing equipment may be used, in order to separate small particles from the board.
Laminating Equipment — Filling Equipment
The equipment is used to fill void areas on the board surface. Filling requires oven curing and sanding of the filled surface to insure a successful bond between the board and the overlay. The most common types of filling are ultra violet (UV) curable, waterbase and solvent base.
Laminating Equipment — Sanding Equipment
Sanding is used to prepare a substrate’s surface for lamination. It is particularly important when particleboard and MDF are used, in conjunction with thinner overlays. The two primary types of sanding equipment used in flat panel lamination are: Contact drum sanders and platen head wide belt sanders. Drum and stroke sanders, although available, are generally not used in flat panel lamination.
Sanding the substrate is usually completed at the beginning of the preparation process. If it is necessary to fill the board, a second sanding may take place, in order to insure that the board is totally smooth before sanding.
Laminating Equipment — Surface Preparation Equipment
The purpose of this equipment is to properly prepare particleboard, MDF and other substrates for successful lamination. When correctly used, this equipment produces a product surface that will be and dust free. Some applications require the board to be warmed before lamination. This will limit telegraphing of dust and fibers.
Liquid Adhesive Roll Laminating Equipment
The roll laminating equipment consists of one (sometimes two or three) heated roll combining stations, where continuous rolls of paper or vinyl film are laminated to the substrates. The liquid adhesive is applied to the board, to the web or both. The lamination and bond are created as paper or film is pulled from an unwind stand and is married to the substrate as they meet and pass through the rotary roll combining station.
The equipment can be designed for single or double sided lamination.
Low Basis Weight Papers
Sometimes referred to as micro-papers or rice papers. These papers range in weight from 23 to 30 grams and are sometimes preimpregnated with resin. Acrylic, polyester and other resins can be added during the paper making process to improve the internal bond strength of the paper. The paper is then printed and then coated with polyurethane, urea, polyester acrylic or melamine resins.
Low basis weight papers are usually divided into two categories; standard and industrial. Standard grade papers contain a lower amount of resin in the base paper and offer an economical laminate for use on lower wear surfaces; such as wall paneling. Industrial grade papers have a higher resin content and greater internal bond strength.
These papers are treated after they have been manufactured. They are usually treated with melamine and/or urea formaldehyde. Additionally, they are usually treated with acrylic, which allows the sheet to remain flexible after the resins are fully cured. With post-impregnated papers, the paper fibers are encapsulated with resin. The voids and air spaces in the paper are filed with resin. These papers may be top coated and they may have hot melt adhesives applied.
Postforming Equipment — Conventional Postforming
There are three ways of putting a soft, radiused edge on a panel. Softforming and profiling are two of the methods. The third method is conventional postforming. This is the process where a laminated surface is formed to a shaped substrate material. There are two types of machines that are used for conventional postforming; stationary and through-feed.
Stationary machines will utilize a heated bar which follows the pre-shaped substrate. Contact adhesives or PVAC glues can be used with this machine. Stationary machines can use a variety of substrates and are easy to set up and operate.
Through-feed postforming machines are used where higher production rates are required. These postformers incorporate more automated stations or zones (sizing, adhesive applications, activation, forming and trimming).
Postforming Equipment — Direct Postforming
Direct postforming involves the same processes as conventional postforming, with the exception being that the substrate is pre-shaped on the postforming machine. These machines require fewer processing stations than conventional postforming machines.
Saturated Papers
These papers usually weigh between 60 and 130 grams. These papers are saturated with reactive resins and are partially cured. Final curing occurs at the time of hot press lamination. This is when the resins form a hard cross-linked thermo-set material; thus creating a permanent bond with the substrate. The decorative paper is similar to that used for high pressure laminate.
Saturated Papers — Melamine (Thermofused Melamine, TFM or Low Pressure Laminate)
The paper is impregnated with a melamine or a urea-melamine resin system; then partially cured to a “B” stage. The resin is fully cured when the paper is pressed at 300-400 psi, at a temperature of 300-400 degrees F.
Saturated Papers — Polyester
The resin is introduced to the paper during an impregnating process. The impregnated paper is then dried. The resin is fully cured when the paper is pressed at 175-200 psi, at a temperature of 275-300 degrees F.
Vinyl Films — 2 Mil Reverse Printed Rigid Film
Unembossed, extruded or calendered rigid PVC. The print design and ground coat are printed on the back of the film in reverse order (reverse print). Used for paneling, Kitchen cabinets, furniture and Mobile homes.
Vinyl Films — Sandwich Film
Calendered, semirigid two-ply laminate. This opaque base film is top printed and a clear overlay is laminated over the top. It is designed for mitre folding and flat sheet lamination. It is sometimes available with a scuff-resistant coating. This film ranges from 4.0 to 8.0 mils in thickness.
Vinyl Films — Semirigid Clear Film
Calendered semirigid PVC. This film is reverse printed on the back of the film. It can be embossed and can be coated with scuff-resistant coatings. This film ranges from 4.0 to 8.0 mils in thickness. This film can be mitre folded.
Vinyl Films — Solid Color Film
Calendered, semirigid film that is custom color matched in a variety of hues. This film is integrally colored and can be top printed and/or embossed. Top printed film is used in mobile homes, RV’s, commercial paneling and moveable walls. Solid color film is used in furniture, fixtures and displays. Kitchen cabinets and Office furniture. This film is sometimes available with a scuff-resistant coating. This film ranges from 3.5 to 8.0 mils in thickness.
Vinyl Films — Thermoformed Overlay Films
Calendered or extruded solid color rigid film in single-ply and two-ply construction. Gauges range from .010” to .030”. It may be printed in woodgrain or decorative patterns. Film is sometimes embossed and may be coated with scuff and stain resistant coatings. Primers for adhesion are available. This film is designed for thermoforming with heat and pressure in a bladder press or vacuum forming process.
Vinyl Films — Wrapping Films
Calendered or extruded rigid vinyl films in gauges from .005” to .010”. Film may be printed in woodgrain or decorative patterns. It may be embossed and may be coated for scratch and stain resistance. Primers may be added to promote adhesion. This film is designed for wrapping profiles and can be flat laminated and miterfolded.