After the sale of our panel based facility in Dallas, TX to Wilsonart in June of 2018 we were fortunate to be able to re-invest those proceeds in support of our long-term expansion strategy. We started dreaming big about where our customers and their industries were headed and how their needs would intersect with our capabilities and vision for the future. In the end, we ended up building the most advanced PUR lamination line dedicated to composite panels in North America.
During our evaluation one of the primary gaps we saw, both in our capabilities and really in North America as a whole, was a lack of machinery required to work with new materials that are commonly used in Europe but continue to gain popularity in the US. Specifically, hard to bond and work with materials like high glosses, specialty super mattes, and plastic or poly based materials. To manufacture with these, you need a laminate line capable of using Polyurethane Reactive (PUR) adhesives. So we decided to design and build one.
The primary reason we invested in the PUR Lamination Line was to allow our customers to offer the latest, newest materials within their industries, and to keep their promises of quality and service to their own customers. All of these new materials look significantly better when bonded with a perfectly thin layer of hot melt glue. In fact, some material suppliers won’t even sell you their product unless you have a PUR line. However, even standard grade HPLs look better when bonded with PUR. A few materials we are now able to offer to our customers and bond with confidence include: Acrylic, PET, HDPE, Polypropylene, Acrovyn, Marmoleum, foam, felt, stone veneer, and many more.
The PUR line was just one piece of the recently completed, eighteen month long overhaul of our manufacturing floor. However, it sits at the beginning of our manufacturing process, and feeds all the panel processing machine centers after it, so it is extremely important that it meets a number of requirements to ensure we're able to take advantage of the increased capacity and capabilities from the rest of the newly implemented machinery.
Our first requirement for the PUR line was to increase overall panel quality regardless of the materials being bonded. To achieve this the entire lamination process is contained inside a dust-free clean room and multiple panel cleaning machines are running throughout the process before, during and after the panels are bonded and trimmed, so that regardless of the material used, we ensure a flawless surface in the final product.
From loading stacks of core and individual sheets into the line, to unloading finished stacks of panels, the entire process is automated using a variety of different types of computer controlled automation, scanners, robots and conveyors. The benefit to this type of solution is speed, efficiency and consistency.
The lamination line needs to be able to feed the rest of the redesigned manufacturing floor and keep up with its recently increased capacity, specifically our new rear-loading saw. The true challenge here was finding a solution to load core into the line and be able to keep up with the rest of the process from the beginning. We found the answer in a robotic arm and gantry that can pick up and load substrate from two different directions allowing it to keep up with the rest of the line. The final solution can bond a panel on average every 25 seconds.
Since every job is custom and required panel sizes change for each job, we must be able to bond any thickness of panel and change setting in real-time as each job flows through production. This was made possible by our newly implemented material labeling solution and ERP. All materials are bar coded, giving the PUR line the ability to scan and adjust the machines as different size core and face material enter the line for each job.
SINGLE-PASS, DOUBLE-SIDED BONDING
Another requirement for the lamination line was that it bond double-sided in a single pass. We knew we didn’t want to have to bring half bonded panels out of the process and re-introduce them for a variety of reasons, mainly speed and efficiency. So we created a custom panel flipping solution that also provides a buffer for the line as it makes the transition from one side of the panel to the other.
AUTOMATED TRIMMING AND STACKING
Finally, we wanted the panels that came out of the line to either be ready to ship directly to our customers, or to enter into our panel processing centers. With that goal in mind, a trimming solution was included at the end of the line with an additional panel cleaner to make sure no debris ends up between the panels causing quality issues once they are stacked.
The process to implement our new PUR lamination line wasn’t without its share of road bumps and delays, but in the end the benefits to our customers and the new materials they can offer within their product lines are worth the extra time and effort.
If you could benefit from the flawless face and unbreakable bond achieved with the REACT PRL PANELS bonded on our PUR Lamination Line, get in touch today to schedule a meeting or take a tour of our newly redesigned facility, meet our team, and dream big.