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The New CARES Act Is Aimed at Helping You With Worker Payroll. Here's How to Tap It

3. April 2020 16:01

By: Laurie Wolff,  Certified Global Business Professional

My guess is you are struggling with the economic impact of COVID-19. Some of you have new opportunities, given the need to retrofit spaces to protect employees and possibly even to produce high need items to fight the pandemic. Some of you can still operate normally. Others are facing state-wide stay-in-place orders that are challenging operations. Still more are seeing large decreases in your booked business and are having to lay off workers and manage your cash flow.

Help is on the way. But you will have to actively engage if you want to take advantage of any of the programs. I will have blogs on several opportunities but for this one I’m focusing on one program offered through the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Part of the CARES Act (the recently passed more than $2 trillion stimulus package) is directly aimed at keeping people working in small businesses across the country. Even if all is great for you right now, pay attention and consider applying. If you qualify as a small business, you can get a government loan that becomes a grant based on maintaining your payroll. Even if times are still good, this will increase your bottom line and allow you to invest in future opportunities. If times are tough, this is a potential life line to hold out until we get through the pandemic induced shut downs.

The Paycheck Protection Program offers small businesses loans that can be forgiven if all employees are kept on payroll for eight weeks and the loan is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest and utilities. The forgiven amount has to have at least 75 percent related to payroll expenses, but other expenses can be part of the loan package. 

Consider including expenses related to business expansion. The can include attendance at trade shows such as IWF 2020, which allows you to meet new customers or find new suppliers. I advised another small business I work with to include in his loan package funds to relocate part of his business to business sales effort - which now can’t happen in person - to an online platform. Are you getting the idea? 

 

 

Is the Tide Favoring U.S.
Wood Industry Exports?

IWF 2020 offers two learning opportunities
on export for the U.S. wood industry
by economist Laurie Wolff. Read more

The loan has a maturity of two years, no payments for six months, and an interest rate of 1%. For now the window for payroll is between February 15th and June 30th so firms that have laid off workers can rehire them based on the loan and still qualify. Possibly the government may lengthen the window or increase the total funding level given future need, but for now the authorization is $350 billion. Loans can’t be for more than $10 million and most will be small.

You need to have a relationship with a banker to get this loan. Many banks that previously did not do SBA loans are seeking approval to make them for their customers. The existing SBA lenders, including the large national banks, are saying they will not be able to expand beyond their existing customers. If your bank isn’t trying to become a lender under this program, my best advice is to talk with the other banks in your town or region to find someone willing to work with you. While the loan is guaranteed by the government, the banks still have to do diligence and so the best situation is to work with a bank that already knows you and your operations.

I hope that the business owners that attended my IWF 2018 workshops on expanding their business through international trade stepped out, followed my advice, and got SBA loans because that now is advantageous. If you already have a SBA loans, it makes it easier to get this one, and the SBA has two programs open to extend payments or add extra lending to their existing clients’ loans.

To qualify as a small business, you generally have to have less than 500 employees, but you can go to SBA.gov to see if your business qualifies. Information about this and other programs is available there, but really, truly for this program you need to talk to your bank to see if they are ready to accept applications and if not, call around town to find a bank that will.

More on other opportunities in future blogs, but all the best as we try together to get through these challenging times!

Stretch Wrappers, Packers, Palletizers - Choosing a Secondary Packaging System

22. March 2020 00:07

By Derek Jones, Marketing Manager, Robopac USA

Let’s face it. Secondary packaging equipment is a broad category with multiple product lines and a variety of features with varying performance levels. From stretch wrappers, packers and palletizers to case equipment and laser-guided vehicles, and with so many companies touting the benefits of their product, how do I decipher which is the right product for me?

Robopac USA is exhibiting in Booth B8285 at IWF 2020

The best way to determine the right equipment in each of the product lines is to understand the best fit for your application. Think of it this way. When you decide to purchase a new vehicle, there are key “application” factors that come into play. If I have a family of four then I probably need a vehicle that has four doors, more room, third-row seating and maybe a built-in DVD player to keep the kids occupied on long trips. If I live in a harsher environment or like to off-road, then I may choose a more rugged vehicle with four-wheel or all-wheel drive. There are several application factors always in play when purchasing a vehicle.

The same holds true for deciding on which secondary packaging equipment is right for my operation. Let’s go through each of the product lines that make up secondary packaging equipment and uncover the key application decision factors:

Stretch Wrappers
Stretch wrappers are made up of two main categories: Semi-automatics and Automatics. Both categories are made up of sub-categories: Turntable, Vertical Rotary Arm, and Horizontal. Robots are a sub-category primary to semi-automatics. In most cases, if the loads you wrap are heavy (over 4,400 lbs.), very light, or unstable then they will need to remain stationary on a solid surface instead of a spinning turntable. If that is the case, you will need a vertical rotary arm stretch wrapper. 

Turntable stretch wrappers are ideal for wrapping stable loads that weigh under 4,400 pounds. Since floor space is at a premium in most facilities, choosing a reliable turntable wrapper with a small footprint is key. Depending upon the number of loads you wrap per hour, you can determine which turntable in the product line is right for you. 

If you wrap long products such as lumber, doors, windows, carpets, textiles, copper piping, or corrugated tubing then a horizontal wrapper may be the right solution for you. 

Flexibility is extremely important. Robot semi-automatic stretch wrappers are portable providing a 25% increase in productivity. Loads do not have to be taken to a set area to be wrapped. The machine comes to you. Plus, they can wrap loads of any weight, length and width.

Semi-automatics may require some human intervention like pushing a button to start the machine, attaching the film to the load before starting the wrap cycle, or cutting the film at the end of the load. Statistics show that the less the operator engages with the load directly, the safer and more productive they will be.

For example, if your semi-automatic stretch wrapper includes an automatic film cutting and sealing device, then the equipment will cut and seal the film to the bottom of the load at the end of the wrap cycle automatically.

Why is this important? It allows the operator to stay on the fork truck to stage other loads or perform other functions while the machine is wrapping the load increasing productivity. Keeping them on the fork truck keeps them safe preventing injuries by bending over time and again to attach the film to the load or cut it at the end of the wrap cycle.

Remote controls to start and stop the wrap cycle are also available to increase productivity. Keep in mind, some manufacturers include extended wrap height, a remote control, and other key features as standard which is very important in determining total value in your purchase decision. 

If you have more demanding, higher speed applications then an automatic stretch wrapper may be the right solution. Automatics can include conveyor systems to stage and run multiple loads, corner board placers to protect sides of loads and dual wrap arms for increased productivity.

Cutting edge manufacturers are now providing remote connectivity to your stretch wrapper operation which allows managers to monitor and improve performance. Remote assistance minimizes machine downtime and permits better maintenance management, also including an immediate troubleshooting procedure and full remote machine management software updates.

At the end of the day, the reason we stretch wrap loads is to protect the products that are being shipped. Choose a manufacturer who will deliver the right amount of film, at exactly the right position, with exactly the right amount of containment force to protect your products during shipment.

Packers
Most industrial manufacturing plants deal with large-scale production every day. Unreliable or incapable machinery may break down frequently. When this happens, production must cease, and costly downtimes are the result. The right wrap-around case packer and shrink wrappers must be able to reliably handle heavy-duty production. To keep the packing process moving forward, wrap
goods tightly for intact delivery. Flexibility in product application, changeover time, machine capabilities (film, pad + film, film + tray, tray only), speed, reliability/uptime and the need for a packer, wrapper, or combination will drive your decision making.

Palletizers
Automatic palletizing eliminates unnecessary labor, improves productivity, and increases safety in your shipping operation. Floor space an issue? Then consider a palletizer manufacturer with small footprint machines that offer concurrent stretch wrapping within the palletizer. This reduces floor space requirement by palletizing and stretch wrapping in once process. Positive product handling
that confirms proper load construction prior to layer deposit is vital in the purchase process. Safety is imperative in any operation. Identify manufacturers which build their palletizers to a minimum Category 3 safety standard.

Case Equipment
Case erectors and sealers may be the most difficult product line to determine which manufacturer’s machine is the right for my application. Case erectors and sealers eliminate costly labor and ensure cases are square for the unitization process during palletization and stretch wrapping. My advice…Don’t get caught up in the suction cup and folding arm rhetoric.

There are a few questions you need answered when choosing a case erector or sealer:

  • Can they at least handle all types of flutes, double wall and single wall, and most common case sizes?
  • At the end of the day, does their machine have a proven track record of erecting square cases squarely so they don’t jam in the machine?
  • And finally, can they reliably transition the box through the taper efficiently so that the box is squared
    and sealed correctly?

Laser Guided Vehicles (LGV)
Laser Guided Vehicles, or LGV, may be the coolest product in secondary packaging. It almost seems futuristic to see an army of unmanned forklifts in an operation working tirelessly 24/7 to meet shipping demands. The labor and safety savings for these machines are unmatched. When considering an LGV purchase, there are several key questions to consider.

  • Will it be operating in narrow spaces and tight passages?
  • Does the LGV need to handle multiple pallets?
  • Do I have very heavy product loads?
  • Do I need to move my products from one specific conveyor line to another?

Over time as your operation continues to grow, your end of line packaging strategy will become more diverse. Consider sourcing through one single provider to build consistency, trust, and efficiencies.

ROBOPAC USA is the leader in the design, production, and service of secondary packaging machines and equipment. We offer a full line of configurable machinery to stretch wrap, pack, palletize, erect, and seal any product in the logistics industry. If you would like more information on this topic or to schedule an interview, please contact Derek Jones at 678-908-7909. 

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Join Me at IWF 2020 for a Holistic Approach to Finishing Symposium

15. March 2020 20:12

By: Joe Baggett, Innovative Wood Process Solutions

We are really excited about the IWF 2020 Holistic Approach to Finishing Symposium. There is renewed interest and passion in wood finishing! We have a vision of the symposium being a time to share information, experiences, technology and offer a process of “A Holistic Approach to Finishing” that will empower the professional wood finisher to keep up with coatings, equipment and processes in a rapidly changing world.

We have prepared a thoughtful program “for the people by the people!” We know that past feedback has indicated that attendees want a “take away.” So, this year if you plan to attend, we would like to hear your questions, thoughts, and concerns ahead of time. Please email us your questions iwpsolutions19@gmail.com by June 30.

So, we are trying something new within the format of the program will attempt to address the questions as much as possible. If a question is non-program related, we will be available to give personalized attention during the show after the symposium as much as times allows.

During our consulting engagements over the past year and half we have noticed several things that we believe wood finishing organizations experience:

  • What new looks, colors, effects, touchable/visual aesthetics, performance in color fastness and scratch/moisture/chemical, can we create that will drive value?
  • What are the best coatings, application and curing methods to repeatably produce these finishes?
  • <https://www.iwfatlanta.com/Education/FIN" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Can these new looks be created through automatic methods?
  • What does the leadership and workforce look like for the next generation of wood finishers?
  • What are the permit implications to accomplish the first two questions?
  • Can I create more value in my finish without adding lots of cost?

Also on the program is a special guest speaker, Robert Chickey, a finishing specialist of national renown. He will be giving a presentation on designing finishes with new coatings. 

We can’t wait to be with you all! Along with the wood finishers we want to invite the designers, marketers, sales, and executive leaders. We will have some great interactive activities and door prizes! See you all in Atlanta at IWF 2020 in August.

5 Tips for Laser Cutting and Engraving Wood

14. March 2020 19:58

Technical Advice from Trotec Laser

Laser engraving wood offers the freedom of creating precise and personalized custom-made materials, which adds value to any business. Make your products unique by engraving images, names, or even logos into your materials. Laser cutting provides precision to custom-fit parts within a tenth of a millimeter, even with small or fine shapes. Compared to other technology, laser systems save time and can accommodate even the thinnest materials with its non-contact processing. 

Does laser cutting wood cause burning?
Yes. However, laser cutting wood is a sublimation process and is often considered highly desirable. Laser cutters offer accurate focusing, customized selections of the appropriate parameters, as well as use of suitable optics and compressed air supply for cutting and engraving of the highest quality. 

Can all woods be laser processed?
Since wood is a natural and organic material, laser users must evaluate a number of parameters including density and resin content prior to processing. For example, softwoods such as balsa will require less laser power, and cutting can be completed more quickly. On the other hand, hardwood, which is typically a dense material, will require more laser power. We recommend using compressed air for processing MDF since it consists of wood fibers that are glued.

 https://iwf20.mapyourshow.com/8_0/exhibitor/exhibitor-details.cfm?exhid=12602

Trotec Laser will be in Booth BC 1233 at IWF.  

 

Will the laser engraving always become dark?
Laser processing wood can result in a brownish-coloration on the material depending on a variety of factors. However, when processing varnished wood utilizing the appropriate settings can avoid this issue and a white engraving can be achieved. We recommend using a very low power at a high speed for this application

Can dark engraving be achieved?
Yes. Defocusing the laser beam to about 0.5-2 mm will result in the laser spot becoming larger, and the power density is then reduced. Some details may be lost in processing, but this method will produce a particularly dark engraving and we highly recommend trying it for these types of applications.

Should there be smoke in the processing area?
Laser processing wood is a sublimation process, and since the material is solid it is converted directly into a gaseous state from combustion. 

 

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Getting Grain Effects in Wood Composite 3D Printing

24. February 2020 10:35

 Wishing you could print wood in a 3D printer? Hatchbox is among a number of firms that offer filaments for 3D printing. The Wood PLA Hybrid is universally designed to be compatible with printers using 1.75mm diameter filament, with a dimensional accuracy of +/- 0.03mm.

Wood PLA Hybrid - Polylactic Acid with fine wood particles mixed in (below)  is a commonly used thermoplastic material that does not require the use of a heated print bed. Blending a mixture of plant-based materials, polymers, and wood particles creates a material that is more earth-friendly than plain plastic.

Hatchbox notes you'll be able to sand and stain the finished product to give it a wood finish, and that is exactly what Justine Haupt did in replacing the moulded wood top plate on her concertina using its wood composite filament. A concertina is a free-reed musical instrument, like a small accordion.  It has an expanding and contracting bellows, with buttons (or keys) usually on both ends.  

The Suttner concertina shown here by way of explanation can be ordered with flat ends made from German silver, rosewood, ebony or cocobolo, or raised ends made from German silver or hardwood in black. Haupt was replacing an end piece that was raised, and so decided to replicate it with a  printed piece using Hatchbox Wood-Filled PLA. After printing it was sanded, stained, and varnished. 

"Fresh out of the printer doesn't look like wood at all," Haupt notes. "I used 60-grit sandpaper to completely remove the printed surface finish. 60-grit might seem excessively course but I feel the results are better this way, in part because one must be sure to completely remove the natural finish. Also, the deep gouges left by the coarse grit seem to more closely match natural wood grain."

Since the sandpaper is what leaves a wood-like grain, "It's important to sand in one direction only. In this case, it was much easier to sand the perimeter wall, as I was able to take advantage of the printed layer lines. In hindsight, it might be better to print something like this on-edge to take advantage of this effect where it most matters. In the end, even with all the sanding, the perimeter walls were most convincingly wooden. " 

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How to Build an Infinity Cube Table With 18 Continuous Joints

23. January 2020 10:57

Jonathan Katz -Moses shows an intriguing woodworking project: an Infinity Cube Side Table. It consists of 18 continuous joints in a row. "Tons of Joinery!," says Katz-Moses. 

"I found a really cool way to cut the bridal joints without having to reset my equipment. This was an engineering problem project to the max, but I think we found some really cool ways to get past some roadblocks.   

"The finished project came out really cool," Katz-Moses says. Yes, it did.  

"When I pitched this to my friends, they said it was impossible," Katz-Moses says. "I've seen this done out of metal. I don't think it has ever been done out of wood before."

Katz-Moses describes himself as a woodworker, inventor, and "father to a beautiful girl and a dog." He also made a nice tour of IWF in Atlanta, in a video that tells a lot about the kind of excitement woodworkers will find at IWF 2020. 

"Woodworking is my passion and there is nothing I won't try to build, fix, or improve on my own. I got into woodworking and the passion has completely consumed me," he says, and that excitement shows in his travel to Atlanta and tour of the show. 

"Becoming a great woodworker and do it yourself-er is about finding the right information and creative solutions with the materials and skill sets available to you. I eagerly look forward to showing you how I accomplish my projects."  

 

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Last Word on Establishing A Holistic Approach to Finishing - Step 5

13. January 2020 13:44

By: Joe Baggett, Innovative Wood Process Solutions

The other day while on a plane coming home and contemplating the final articles of this series. I was listening to my favorite 80s mix, and the song “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” by The Clash came on and I was inspired.

While the paradox of the song was about indecision in a romance gone bad it is very analogous to many finishing journeys that are stuck or will be stuck in indecision. In the famous words of Strummer, "If I stay there will be trouble and if I go it will be double."

This is symbolic of how many feel about finishing. It doesn’t have to be that way! It has been the goal with this series of articles to provide a holistic strategy and some of the best questions to create emotional permission and empowerment to move forward and take advantage of the advances in coatings, delivery and curing technology in the wood finishing industry.

So, get ready and go the next level in your finishing journey! 

This last step in the holistic finishing process really is about putting it all together. After having gone through the previous steps the last one is about how it all fits together, sometimes literally. When completing the design of the lines and equipment many times the underlying questions are what are the easiest and lowest cost ways to get into finishing or attempt to make the next step.

 

Meet Joe Baggett August 26 when he
leads the Finishing Symposium at IWF 2020. 

This usually results in the scenarios that have the highest amount of labor or lowest productivity, the lowest transfer efficiency and the longest cure times/cycles. As a general rule the largest amount of real-time and cycle that product sits in the production facility is for finishing. Just recently there was a furniture manufacturer that went from air curing their coatings (1-3 days) to force curing them in a batch oven (8-10 mins).

It shortened their internal lead time by several days. Some of the higher-performing newer coatings that are more compliant with environmental regulations (an example would be water-based 2k) are best applied with forced curing as it significantly reduces cure time. This is an example of how the previous steps in this Holistic process fit together. 

Joe Baggett and a cabinet design engineer at the
Microvellum console and overlooking the plant floor.

After the questions from step IV are answered we suggest significant testing before ordering new equipment or committing to any new formulations.

We also suggest creating buy-in from the coatings suppliers, equipment companies, and the fluid delivery providers, to agree and commit to the anticipated intended results. We suggest taking the formulations and multiple substrates like the ones that will be used in a production scenario and the proposed lines, equipment and fluid delivery system and complete testing in the scenario that will most likely represent the production scenario. Most of the major finishing equipment manufacturers have labs and testing facilities and can make accommodations for this testing. Have a representative from each group, coatings, equipment and fluid delivery present at the testing.

I want to take a moment and emphasize the environment in which the finishing operation will occur. Besides the coatings, equipment and fluid delivery system the environment and most specifically how clean the air is and the temperature of the air in the finishing area and coming into the finishing area is and should be?

Cold air that is contaminated is an enemy of good finishing areas. Then the environment of the area where the wood substrates are kept before finishing is also important. Keeping the BST (board surface temp at 77-100°F and clean is helpful. Many people go and test in a clean environment without temperature extremes or contaminated air, this must be considered in the final design and decisions.

During the testing bring the leaders and operators that would be operating the equipment and applying the new coatings to be a part of the test. This creates buy-in.

Complete the testing confirming or understanding the difference in the intended outcomes. For instance, if the fluid transfer is projected to be 70% and during the testing is resulting in 60%, discuss this with the fluid delivery rep and the coatings rep and the finishing equipment rep. The purpose of this is to create commitment from all parties, not only that the new coatings can perform as intended but to what level of time to cure, transfer efficiency, productivity in labor, and repeatability.

Once successful testing is done the final design of the line and any finishing are environment requirements can be finalized. Many times, the footprint of an existing building becomes a constraining factor. This will also be an opportunity to work on the curing cycles which usually results in smaller line footprints.

While all improvement is change, not all change is improvement. It is very important to engage the internal members of the organization and the equipment, coatings suppliers and fluid delivery in a way communicates the importance, value and purpose of the new finishing strategy. Usually, the finishing area requires the most and best leadership due the definition and adherence to processes. Because there are more variables to finishing than in most other parts of wood working, a good leader of people who is also technically astute with designing and following finishing processes is key to the sustained success of the finishing strategy.

To create buy-in and commitment we encourage the development of a document describing and defining the operation and performance of the new finishing system and AutoCAD layout of the new finishing system. It is even better is all involved parties commit with their signatures.

After final testing is complete, samples of the new finish system should be made and signed off by marketing, manufacturing and all parties involved. Ordering of the new equipment would occur at this point and the permitting process from step three should be finalized at this point with while being synchronized with the permits to construct the new finishing system by the time the new system would arrive and be installed.

The future isn’t what it used to be! It is common when we engage wood finishers to hear of how long they have been doing wood finishing. Let me say it is good to be proud of what one’s accomplishments. However, because of the pace of change it matters less how long something has been done and more how well it is and will be done. I want to reiterate the importance of this being a cycle and journey and not destination.

In Wood Finishing, there paradigm shifts every 3-5 years. It is a good exercise to go through this Holistic Finishing Process as a cycle every 3-5 years.

We aren’t done yet with finishing,  just stopping for now. We would love to continue the discussion with you and your teams at IWF 2020 as we will presenting this same subject but in more detail at the Finishing Seminar. Good luck, see you all at IWF in Atlanta in August 24-28, 2020!

 Joe Baggett is President of Innovative Wood Process  Solutions. Reach him at iwpsolutions19@gmail.com,    817-682-3631. www.iwps.biz

 

 

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Fasteners of Laminated Pressboard and Solid Wood

12. January 2020 17:45

Lignostone laminated densified wood, made from beech veneers,
is formed into high-strength precision fasteners.

By Bill Esler, Editor, IWF Network News

New versions of precision threaded bolts and nuts made of specially processed wood materials have been developed by Röchling Engineering Plastics. Due to wood's natural insulating properties, the fasteners, along with densified wood laminate panel, are critical components for electrical devices. Due to its special material properties, Lignostone is mainly used as insulation material in transformer construction and as thermal insulation for tank supports in ocean tankers carrying liquified natural gas. The fasteners are also favored for connecting various types of plastic panels. 

For more than a century, the Haren, Germany-based firm Röchling Engineering has been manufacturing Lignostone, an impregnated grade of wood material used in transformers. Lignostone laminated densified wood consists of beech veneers (Fagus sylvatica), which are joined together with thermosetting synthetic resins under pressure and heat. Röchling developed expertise in the application of this bonding technology and manufactures semi-finished products and components, such as pressure rings, pressure beams, shield end rings, shield rings along with the fasteners, producing them customer specifications.

Röchling Engineering says selected red beech veneers of the highest quality are used,  subject to its stringent quality specifications, drawn from sustainably managed forests. Thanks to the excellent conditions in Western Europe for growing beech within a period of around 120 years, "top grades of this product from logs of suitable length felled in the right locations offer extremely good homogeneity that enables them to withstand the extremely high electric stresses."  In addition to electrical insulating properties, Lignostone is also strong,  due to its intact capillaries (woody structures) with continuous load-bearing fibers this material offers unsurpassed mechanical strength values, which depend on the direction of lamination and the densification.

More recently Röchling Engineering developed Trafoboard, a panel material made from laminated pressboard with phenolic resin bonding for use in oil-filled power transformers. The material has also been fabricated into an alternative to fasteners (above) for transformers that are made from laminated pressboard with casein and polyester resin bonding. 

Trafoboard HD-PH, the international plastics processor Röchling Engineering Plastics SE & Co. KG, Haren, Germany is the first manufacturer in the market to offer fasteners made from laminated pressboard with phenolic resin bonding for use in oil-filled transformers. Röchling Engineering says the unique phenolic resin bonding in Trafoboard offers the highest electrical properties and can contribute to increased operational reliability of oil-filled transformers.

Trafoboard HD-PH consists of highly densified pressboard layers made of pure cellulose according to IEC 60641, which are bonded permanently by means of phenolic glue. Along with good mechanical and electrical properties, the material has very low moisture content and very good drying behavior. Röchling worked closely with the University of Applied Sciences Osnabrück on its development. Compared to conventional fasteners made of laminated pressboard, Trafoboard HD-PH has very high mechanical strength even at high application temperatures of 90 °C (near boiling). Röchling says Trafoboard high homogeneous strength reduces the risk of cracking and delamination. 

High-precision fit
The low shrinkage behavior of the fasteners and nuts made from Trafoboard HD-PH also ensures a high-precision fit, facilitating the construction and dimensioning of transformers with more accurate tolerances. Compared to polyester resin-bonded laminated pressboard, no styrene is released when machining on CNCs and other systems, releasing no unpleasant smells for employees and contributes to work safety. Learn more at Röchling Engineering Plastics 

 

 

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A Holistic Approach to Finishing -Step 4

16. December 2019 21:14

By: Joe Baggett, Innovative Wood Process Solutions

One of my favorite movies is the old western John Wayne and the Cowboys. There are two scenes in the movie that would hold true to the journey of Holistic Finishing. When the Cowboys which in this instance are truly teenage boys are getting ready to go on the cattle drive, they must turn in all arms to the wagon/trail boss.

One particular young man steps up to turn in his pistol and can barely unholster it due to its size. Surprised by the large pistol from the small boy John Wayne asks him is he had every fired it before, to which he reluctantly replied no. If you know the movie then by the end the young boy learned to use it well and did so to recover the stolen herd of cattle from rustlers and drive them to the end of the trail drive.

The current and developing technology of applying and curing coatings in the wood finishing arena is a powerful tool or weapon if you will allow the analogy. The challenge in most applications is the context in which to use the technology to create strategy and value to win. The application and curing technology have improved commensurately with the chemical technology in the coating that we alluded to as in the formulation phase of step II in this Holistic Finishing Process. To get the most value out of the technology in the chemical development of the coatings many times cutting edge technology in the application and curing is required.

When looking at the application and curing technology that will enable and enhance the formulations from step II there are important questions to ask. All chemical formulations apply and cure differently. Too many times a very general approach is taken to the application and curing. When looking at the total internal cycle time when shops and factories it is common to have the most amount of time in the plant taken by finishing. Sometimes this is due to color changes, no forced curing, space for WIP in between finish lines, the sequencing of work going into and coming out of the finish lines, and coordination of preparation of the coatings based on demand of the product being finished, and the amount of time required for color approval before beginning or continuing finishing of production. The amount of internal cycle time dedicated to finishing can usually be reduced if the right application and curing technology can be identified and implemented. Here are the main questions to ask:

What is the most efficient way to apply the coatings from the formulation phase? 
Transfer efficiency is the missing link in many finishing operations. It is best to set target transfer efficiency and then track performance against the target. This is just as important as the yield of hardwood or plywood in the mill. It is not uncommon to see the application equipment be selected for the lowest up-front cost but the lowest transfer efficiency. If you aren’t currently tracking transfer efficiency, we encourage all wood finishers to start immediately. Many other finishing problems and defects are caused by ineffective transfer efficiency, this is why it is a good metric not only for saving money but as a general litmus test of the overall effectiveness of the finishing operation. It requires good processes and adherence to those processes to achieve and maintain high transfer efficiencies so when the transfer efficiency drops it is usually due to a process failure. Applying the target film builds no more and no less is one of the main performance factors of the successful finishing operations. I want to show how to transfer efficiency correlates to finishing from a holistic approach. If a finishing operation is permitted a certain amount ton in emissions and they improve the transfer efficiency by 15% then usually reduce their emissions proportionately creating the ability to produce more volume without additional permitting or permit amendments. The more that compressed air is used as the atomizing method the less transfer efficient the spray application becomes ( compressed air expands at about a 10:1 ratio as it leaves the gun creating overspray and pressuring spray booths. Also, the compressed air introduces a cold gas into the coating which can increase flash and cure time. Instead of compressed air, heated and ionized nitrogen improves these negative effects in all the spray application technologies listed in the chart below, it also increases the sealer sand ability of sealer and in between coats.

What is the most effective method for curing the coatings?
Curing of coatings is often misunderstood and when typical finish lines run out of budget money the election of low costing curing methods winds up increasing the internal cycle time in the finish department and the plant. Let me say that forced curing it one of the best ways to reduce costs and eliminate problems in the finishing area. Let me also say that when internal lead times increase the cost to cash cycle tying up cash. Curing coatings in the least amount of time reasonably possible holds value in several ways other than reducing cycle time. The forced curing of coatings in the shortest cycles possible using ovens will help in the following ways. It will reduce the amount of time the coating sits wet on the substrates reducing the possibility of contamination of dust and other foreign material. It will get the coating closest to the final appearance before it leaves the factory. Depending on the formulations, the forced curing parameters vary based on the solvent line up and the resins and binders and then the catalyst/hardeners and photoinitiators (if it is UV cured). All solvents including water are volatile (this means they evaporate) the way they evaporate, and how fast they evaporate and how they react with the remaining chemistry is the important first step. The temperature of the wood substrate to which the coating is being applied, the temperature of the coating as it is being applied and the temperature of the air whether it is ambient or forced heated is where the curing process begins.

One of the biggest opportunities to reduce and improve curing is the pre-heating of the substrate and the coating before using forced curing ovens or even ambient curing. It is helpful to heat the substrate up 100 degrees or so immediately before spraying and then curing as well as the coating to the level that is doesn’t begin to pre-cure in the delivery equipment. This will not only reduce the curing time be it will help the coating flow out quickly and flash the solvents out from the bottom up more efficiently.

As an example, water-based coatings typically need to be brought to a board surface temperature of about 118°F to begin to force out the water beyond ambient evaporation pre-heating the substrate reduces the load from the oven to raise the board surface temperature. These physical and chemical properties vary by solvent and coating. Flashing out the solvents in way that allows for flow and good surface tension without pre-cure and bubbles and grain raise is important. This is especially important for UV cured coatings. Then for coatings that are assisted by raising the board surface temperature to higher levels helps cross-link and snap cure (acid cure, and 2K and pre-catalyzed coatings) the curing methods should reach and hold the board surface temperature to enable the best cross-linking possible. This will ensure the highest level of hardness when the parts come out of the curing ovens and cool off as the coating finishes it’s curing process.

What is the most repeatable and productive method for applying the coatings?
It is important to answer the first two questions first as they carry more weight than the last question. Right now, many want to scale their business for growth and alignment with the changing workforce and employment conditions. So, what does this look like in setting up finish lines? The repeatability of consistently putting a finish out that is a game-changer/difference-maker is important. The repeatability includes the ability to produce it in a regular scenario with the same group of people and information and in the same cost. Some repeatably produce a finish but the cost and time to do so vary a lot. The line and equipment to produce it should be repeatable in time, materials and cost on a normal day to day scenario with the same group of people. Finishing lines are sometimes the highest dollar item that is frequently abandoned the soonest out of all the equipment in factory or shop.

Click to opening Complete List and Descriptors of Finishing Systems.pdf (111.77 kb)

If I had a little money for every time I hear “that finish lines doesn’t work” I would have more money in the bank. The next step after achieving repeatability is productivity. What is the most productive scenario for the new finish? The ability to quickly change colors without creating waste is important especially as paints have outpaced stains. The basic lines are in the chart below. This chart deals with spraying, roll coating, and vacuum coating and then the oven and or curing. The sealer sanding in between coats is also an important component to increasing the productivity there are stand-alone and inline automatic sealer sanding technologies that can increase productivity and improve quality. How these integrate with the delivery and curing technology and equipment in the chart below is very configurable to application. That said there is no technological issue preventing the finishing operation from reaching high levels of productivity. Digital Printing is also an up and coming technology to which we will devote a special article separately.

Hopefully, this is empowering with some of the more important questions to ask the context and perspective with which to answer them. For step IV in this Holistic Approach to Finishing we encourage people to engage multiple coatings and equipment suppliers with the same questions and do a significant amount of testing with the chemical formulations from step II.

We also encourage the design of the lines to be done in AutoCAD with process equipment, delivery equipment, operators, carts, material handling etcetera. Then draft the flow of the process giving space to work in process and other process variables. The ovens, lines speeds, cure time, spray rates, sealer sanding and other process constraints should be taken in to account. Establish targeted theoretical costs in material labor and overhead for the finishing operation. This is the best opportunity to make the operation cost-effective during the design phase, this is all about game-changing/difference-making finishing. 

 

How to Install Boat Style Latches in an SUV Cabinetry Conversion

6. December 2019 10:41

By Brian Daigneault, Solid Wood Worx

I grew up in a cabinet shop and was a born to be woodworker. In the past few years when work slowed in the custom cabinet industry I converted a few friends Vans and SUV's so they had more storage for adventuring, work, or just the weekend beach getaway.

I design and build all kinds of custom woodwork and vehicles at my shop in Huntington Beach, California!In this how-to video I show you how to install these new boat style latches I've used in a few builds recently. I like them a lot more than the push-button knobs i used to use that were cheap and kept breaking, these seem much more heavy-duty.

Link to buy the slam latches: https://amzn.to/2LTNbqV
2" Hole Saw: https://amzn.to/2XbemPR
Gas Struts that hold the doors up: https://amzn.to/2O9k9Bc