With the advance of machine technology, edgebanding has become a simple, automated process that is easy to overlook. Compared to the traditional manual gluing process that requires a lot of skill and patience, modern edgebanding machines can do the job so effortlessly and with such precision that sometimes, we forget how critical a good edgebanding finish is to a furniture product.
Edgebanding is an essential component of the panel making process, especially with the prevalence of cheaper, but less protected engineered wood materials such as plywood, particleboard and oriented strand board (OSB).
Not only does edgebanding provides endless aesthetic possibilities for a panel product, more importantly, it protects the materials within the panel from damage, which are often susceptible to elements such as moisture.
“Whatever the technology used in panel cutting, the panel needs to be edgebanded,” Lorenzo Marcaccioli, an edgebanding technology specialist at Biesse, explained. “To achieve a perfect balance of different processes in the production flow, it’s very important to choose the right edgebander in terms of performance.”
He added that the quality of the edgebanding is the factor that set the selling price of the product. “End users often consider the quality of materials and hardware used, as well as the finishing of the edge.”
Mr Marcaccioli started his career at Biesse 15 years ago as a mechanical engineer who designed machines. Later on, he changed his role to that of a sales engineer, where he was more involved in the market and gain a better understanding of the needs of the market.
He has travelled extensively around Southeast Asia and East Asia to meet the company’s customers and partners in the woodworking industry and recently relocated to Malaysia with his family.
“Asia is like the rest of the world now. There are many different requirements according to the end users and their needs,” he said.
The demand for high-quality furniture products in Asia has continued to grow over the years as the people in the region become more affluent. And furniture manufacturers have to answer to this call in a market place where competition has become more intense.
As consumers seek out furniture that is more durable and functional, at the same time, more stylish and aesthetically pleasing, edgebanding may just be one of the factors that would influence a purchase decision.
Currently, edgebanding machines can be divided into two main broad categories: straight line edgebanding, also known as throughfeed machines, and CNC edgebanding.
As the name suggest, straight line edgebanding machines typically feed panels and apply the edge in a straight line.
CNC edgebanding machines, on the other hand, are more flexible and can cater to more diverse geometries. For some CNC machine centres, edgebanding is just one of the process components together with other operations such as milling, grooving and drilling.
“A CNC edgebander, such as Biesse’s Rover EDGE, is a machine that can apply the edge to both types of panel geometry: straight or shaped pieces,” Mr Marcaccioli said. “A throughfeed edgebander, like Jade, Akron and Stream, can apply the edge to the straight side of the panel.”
“The main benefit of throughfeed machines is in terms of productivity, which is much higher than a CNC edgebanding machine. The technology is similar, but the machine concept is completely different.”
One of the trends in Asia is the production of furniture pieces with more drawers, shutter doors and other special profiles, like finger pull or more advanced parts such as “J-pull”.
This can be made possible with a throughfeed edgebander with soft-forming function.
Based on his experience, Mr Marcaccioli believes that Asia is just like the rest of the world now in terms of production requirements.
“One technology that is becoming more and more popular is nesting because of its flexibility,” he said. “This particular cutting technology requires some special precautions on the edgebander, which we have already introduced in other more matured ‘nesting’ countries like the US and Australia.”
Over the last few years, the focus of edgebanding technology has been mainly on quality and accessibility. But a major issue faced by many furniture makers was one that was more fundamental—the glue.
“One of the main ‘headaches’ that our customers’ operators faced is glue management,” Mr Marcaccioli explained.
In order to resolve this ‘headache’, Biesse first developed a special and dedicated system for the polyurethane to reduce the need for maintenance and increase the quality of the glueline. Next, they introduced no-glue technology to throughfeed machines.
“After the worldwide success of Air Force System (AFS), our no-glue line technology for throughfeed edgebanders, we’ve recently introduced the Ray Force System (RFS) for CNC machines. We already have the machine in our tech centre in Kuala Lumpur. The machine is the first CNC machine with this new technology in Asia. Our customer would be able to see the machine running and appreciate the value it brings: achieving high quality, while reducing production time.”
Besides releasing new products with more advanced technology, Mr Marcaccioli believes that the key to helping furniture makers overcome production challenges is information sharing.
“Our job is to transfer information to the market. But knowledge on the machines is not enough. It is very important to understand the latest furniture developments as well from new materials, tools, edges and software, that can drastically change the quality and the way to work and succeed.”
For this reason, Biesse Asia periodically organise seminars and interactive sessions at the company’s showroom in Kuala Lumpur to keep its customers in Asia updated with the latest innovations from Europe.
“Our strong points are our support and experience accumulated over many years across the world that we can share with the Asian market,” he said. “Our mission and goal are to introduce the most suitable and advanced solutions to customers in this region to help them achieve greater productivity and higher quality through the most efficient way.”