If you have been following our updates throughout the end of last year and this year so far, you may have noticed we have made a point to gather as much industry knowledge when it comes to woodworking equipment, technology and materials. A couple of weeks ago, we sent a team to AWFS in Las Vegas to attend the largest woodworking trade show in the United States. The goal? First, our biggest focus was on materials. Our team wanted to learn more about what trends are becoming popular, what applications are being used for certain materials, and how we can start using what we saw at the show. Second, we wanted to look at the technology and equipment. We are entering a huge season of growth, so we’re looking at different ways to improve our process and add to our capabilities. We talked to our team following their return, and here’s what they saw:
As we walked through the show, we were looking at the trends and technology. We continued to focus on who is buying what, what are people pushing and why. It will be interesting to watch all these trends evolve as they start to break into more markets. We broke it up into three categories: surfaces, core and backer.
After seeing all the surface materials, we narrowed it down to four primary trends applicable to our company.
- Acrylic high-gloss: This material was everywhere we looked during the show, but we were impressed with the industry leading quality from SSI. It is a huge trend in vertical applications. For example, you might see this is with a high quality, non-ghosting markerboard or even in residential cabinets.
- Matte: Fenix NTM is a super matte surface from Rehau that has been gaining popularity without showing signs of slowing down. It’s very durable, fingerprint and scratch resistant and easy to clean. You can find it being used in both vertical and horizontal applications.
- Matte Metallic : Coming soon from Rehau, Fenix NTA is a super matte metal surface. It features similar properties as the Fenix NTM product as well.
- Textured laminate: Specifically, wood textures have played a big part of the increase in popularity of laminate recently. Several companies have created products that match the likeness of a real wood veneer, while maintaining the durability and price of HPL. The Prism TFL deep textured laminates from Arauco definitely caught our eye at the show.
Lightweight core options were all over the show. Part of the draw to lightweight core is that it cuts down on shipping costs due to a lighter load and is easier to hang the finished product. From what we saw, the front runners are foam core and balsa core from Kerfkore and 3A Composites. Honeycomb core is another lightweight core material we are expecting to see more of in the near future.
There is little differentiation in backer. More or less, most backer options are pretty similar. Richwood does produce a robust backer that we are already impressed by. That being said, we did see a new, unique backer that would be ideal if we needed to create a solution to seal the core. It was a rubber-like material, making it extremely durable and moisture resistant coming soon from Gatorply. We aren’t sure how we would use this in our facility, but who knows that the future holds.
The second part of our focus was on different technology from machine manufacturers. We are already doubling our current capacity by the end of the year with the addition of several new capabilities in our plant. However, we are always looking for new ways to solve our customers’ problems. We had two main machines that caught our eye while walking the trade show floor. The first was an SNX hand operated contour edgebanding machine that would add to our very robust contour edgeband capabilities. It would allow us to be able to create a seamless process when we have a big run of identical parts. The second was a robot from Robopac that wrapped stacks of parts. Our packaging team spends a lot of valuable time wrapping parts, so this would undoubtedly improve our process in the packaging department.
AWFS was another great trade show, leaving us with a lot to think about. While we aren’t necessarily ready to make any decisions, we are eager to see what the future looks like for our materials and capability offerings. We are also always thinking about what would benefit both our current and potential customers. Stay tuned for updates on our growing list of capabilities and materials.