Surface technology for woodworking is a collective term for all machines that are used to give wood, a delicate material, a beautiful appearance. It can be challenging to make this living, breathing material into a durable and technically-resilient product with an aesthetically pleasing surface finish. It requires a great deal of preparation for it to be ready for a suitable coating or top layer. The machines used for this application come from the following fields:
Wood requires a defined moisture content before it is ready for further processing, with ‘less is better’ being the motto. Having a certain level of residual moisture in wood before processing is important otherwise it is at risk of cracking and breaking.
A variety of extraction and drying machines are needed to attain the desired level of drying and most of them consist of heaters, blowers and extraction units, which work by releasing the residual moisture in the wood and transferring it away.
Well-known manufacturers of extraction and drying technology include: LAUBER, MUEHLBOCK, BVM and RAUSCHENBACH.
Laminating is a process by which a base item is clad in a layer of strong but thin material, which is in contrast from painting and coating. The laminating machines normally used for surface technology consist of a throughput roller device, which bonds a layer of felt or film to the item using adhesives and heat to improve its aesthetics. Laminating machines are used for both flat surfaces and edges.
Popular manufacturers of laminating machines for use in woodworking are: BARBERAN, BÜRKLE, FRITZ and HYMMEN.
Liquid-coating for wood can be sub-divided into painting and glazing. Painting involves fully covering the wood so that the original material is no longer truly visible, whereas glazing often involves a level of transparency and allows interesting wood textures to be retained in the final appearance.
Both surfacing approaches are performed using the same woodworking machines. Industrial paint/glaze application equipment takes the form of conventional painting lines but operate using printing rollers. They are also fitted with conveyor systems and cleaning stations to ensure the result is as consistent as possible, which is essential for large-scale production.
Popular manufacturers of painting/glazing machines for the woodworking field include: BUERKLE, BARBERAN + COSTA, SORBINI, TOMANIN and CATTINAIR.
Machines for applying adhesives play an important role in woodworking surface technology, especially in veneering presses and laminating machines. They supply the glue used to fuse the resilient coating materials with the base item via sprays or rollers with nozzles. In the case of veneering presses and edgebanding machines, the glue application machine is an integral part of the overall system.
The most popular manufacturers of glue application machines are: BUERKLE, JOOS, OTT and NEUMANN.
Applying paint by rolling is effective and very widespread in the field of wood technology and is most suited to flat and uniform coatings across repetitive patterns. But when it comes to one-off designs and effect-laden coatings, spraying technology is the approach to use. It is relatively similar to the painting equipment used in the metalworking industry where paint is sprayed onto a surface using compressed air and then dried.
The following manufacturers produce a range of interesting spraying equipment tailored for the woodworking world: GIARDINA, CEFLA, LEIF UND LORENZ, VENJAKOB, CATTINAIR and KUREX.
Profile wrapping machines are amongst the most widespread machines to be found in the field of woodworking surface technology. Everything that has to do with veneers and their application ultimately revolves around these machines. For flat surfaces, veneering presses are used and there is also an enhanced version providing better efficiency, which is known as the multi-daylight press. And, for edging, it is the edgebanding machine that is chosen. These vary in complexity from simple edgebanders for straight edges, through to post-forming machines for layered edges, and soft-forming machines for radial edges, which count amongst the most expensive and complicated machines in the entire woodworking industry.
Providing wood with a durable and/or attractive surface always involves either paint or glue, which, unfortunately, means that these machines are prone to clogging, even when highly precise application methods and cleaning stations are used. This becomes ever more inevitable in complex processing stations which feature sensors and pressure rollers that clog easily and thus lead to a dramatic drop in production quality.
As such, the operation of wood surfacing machinery entails a high level of cleaning and where this is not provided, the machine will gradually decline and become a write-off. Even though laborious, comprehensive cleaning is essential and its costs will be dwarfed by the expense of a replacement machine. And when a company has been considering disposing a particular machine, it is highly likely that it has been neglected for quite some time.
This is why prospective buyers of second-hand surfacing machines should thoroughly inspect the machine – outward appearances can be deceiving as the soiling is mostly found within the inner workings of the machine. Always open the housing and take a close look at the mechanics inside as this is the only way of telling how much contamination and clogging there is.
But even when the machine seems hopelessly clogged and all the parts look completely stuck, this does not necessarily mean a death sentence for the machine as there are modern and effective cleaning methods, although it will make for a good bargaining chip.
Fortunately, today’s dry ice blasters can achieve outstanding cleaning results if the machine is disassembled – right down to the cabling, hoses and belts – and they are gentle enough on components that they are not damaged by the process at all. Even the softest of materials used in the machine will remain intact and shine like brand new. In recent years, the number of companies offering these services has risen considerably and the modular design of woodworking surfacing machines means that on-going maintenance and repairs are not overly complex or time-consuming.
Wear parts can be easily sourced from the spare parts market and are easy to install, which ensures used surface technology machines will continue to be fully-functional for many years to come with a little know-how. Affordable second-hand machinery is thus a wise choice and can be expanded with turnover stations and loading robots to carefully transfer the newly finished parts for drying and onward transportation.