Our new PUR glue line is being installed in the back of our plant right now. We couldn’t be more excited about this new addition to our capabilities and what it will mean for our current and new potential customers. We work with a lot of different materials already, but most of what we bond is some version of HPL. One thing’s for sure, once the new glue line is done it will open up a whole new world of materials we'll be able to bond and make into panels and parts.
The big difference between PUR and what we’re using now, EVA, is that EVA is a cold, water based glue that requires the materials to absorb moisture that then evaporates during the curing process. So it doesn’t work as well with non-porous materials like metals, plastics, and foams. PUR is a hot melt glue that requires no evaporation and will stick to just about anything. There are multiple PUR glues that can be used for different types of materials. It can spread perfectly even so it will not telegraph on thin materials and create imperfections on the surface, unlike EVA which can be a challenge to use on thin and high-gloss materials.
The following is a list of materials and what we’ve learned about them so far. We hope to be working with many of these by the end of 2019 but only time will tell which ones our customers will choose to use and how well they’ll fit each application that’s required.
High-gloss, Vertical Grade, High Pressure Laminate (HPL)
We're already working with the standard grade version of this product for many customers, but it can be very challenging to find success with when using an EVA glue and cold press process due to the telegraphing mentioned above. The high-gloss surface also shows scratches much easier than a standard finish laminate so it is mainly used on vertical applications such as cabinet doors and markerboards. This new capability will allow us work with the thinner version and provide a more cost-effective and higher quality solution for our customers.
There are an almost unlimited variety of acrylic sheets to work with and the look of these has come a long, long way in recent years. The variety of colors and textures available rivals HPL and is available in a variety of finishes including the increasingly popular ultra-matte and high-gloss. Acrylic tends to be more cost effective as well compared to HPL. However, it doesn’t provide the same scratch resistance making is less suited to horizontal applications. Acrylic comes in a variety of thicknesses and in both sheet or roll form. Many manufacturers will convert rolls to sheets which is how we'll be using our material.
Fiber Reinforced Plastics (FRP)
This material is essentially just what the name says, plastic that has fibers of glass, carbon or basalt added to it. The process results in a lightweight material that’s much stronger and more durable that plastic. This product is suited well for the aerospace, automotive, marine, and construction industries. When laid up as a panel you can find it mainly on walls and partitions. It also has good chemical resistance and is very easy to clean.
Stone veneers are made from very thin slices of real stone with a fiberglass and phenolic backing that allow for flexibility and stability in the product. These surfaces are used in a variety of indoor and outdoor applications including: bathroom walls, showers, kitchen backsplashes, decorative stone walls, wainscoting, outside facade surfacing, fountains, wall stone mosaics and more. This material is typically best bonded with a PUR adhesive to a variety of substrates including particleboard, MDF, plywood, metal, and others. The laid up material can also be machined with wood working tools to create a final part.
Often used in thermoforming parts and seamless surfaces for industries like automotive and aerospace. This water proof and high-impact thermoplastic can also be used in sheet form, which is how we would use it. Once bonded to a substrate it serves as a super-tough protective surface with a number of different applications in the medical, hospitality and restaurant spaces. There are numerous versions of Kydex available in different colors and patterns as well as specific technical properties such as fire retardant and chemical resistance.
Mainly used for interior wall protection in the healthcare and education markets and known for its easy cleaning properties. Acrovyn is available in a variety of solid colors, patterns and wood looks. It holds up to heavy use and traffic and has good impact resistance.
Invented in 1855 by the Englishman Fredrick Walton. Linoleum is most well-known for its use in flooring applications, this natural product made from solidified linseed oil and different additives can also be used for desktops and work surfaces when bonded to a substrate. Its soft feel and texture give it a unique feel as a surface material.
Sheet metal can be used either as a surface or a substrate depending on the application. Many elevators use sheet metal as a protective wall covering, and we have several current customers using sheet metal in vertical applications. As a substrate, laminate or other materials can be bonded to it with PUR adhesive for either interior or exterior use. Steel and Aluminum are the most popular metals used in different finishes and textures.
High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
This thermoplastic polymer is produced from the monomer ethylene, which basically means it can be heated to a certain temperature, bent and formed and then cooled back to its original rigid properties. When below around 200º F it has a high strength-to-density ratio and is probably most noted for its use in plastic bottles and plastic lumber. Color and texture options are fairly limited for this material especially in sheet form. However, it is often sought out because it is light, scratch resistant, easy to clean and impact resistant.
One interesting option to consider is using Styrofoam as a substrate for bonding to other surface materials. This solution creates a lighter weight and potentially more cost effective panel. The biggest issue with these solutions is screw holding strength, in these situations there needs to be a way to hold hardware on that can support its stress and use over time.
When weight is an issue, honeycomb can be a great solution. There are many different materials and construction solutions used to make a honeycomb core including paper, plastic and metal. Honeycomb is most popular with door manufactures for making hollow-core doors that save weight and money. Other industries using honey comb include marine, aerospace and transportation. Some cabinet and furniture manufacturers are starting to use it as well. We see a number of potential uses and are excited to start exploring them.
We are still in the process of evaluating materials and working with customers to determine solutions for their projects as we prepare for the launch of our new PUR glue line. The problem at this point isn’t finding new materials to work with, it’s narrowing down our focus and finding the best solution to each problem we're solving. Look for more details very soon.