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Ligna 2001 Draws a Global Crowd.

More than 110,000 visitors, including 2,640 Americans, come to Hanover to see the latest in world-class woodworking technology

LIGNA-PLUS, the woodworking machinery industry's "Worlds Fair," did not disappoint, despite the softening global economy.

Some 1,929 exhibitors from 49 different countries and 110,000 visitors converged on Hanover, Germany from May 21-25. This year's Ligna was the biggest ever, furthering Ligna's claim as the largest woodworking industry convention in the world. American attendance, however, was down 9% with 2,640 visitors this year compared to 2,910 in 1999.

Technology Trends

Mass customization, green machines, robots, a hollow cutterhead and innovative methods for fixturing parts were among the highlights at Ligna 2001.

Systems consisting of various combinations of computer-controlled saws, tenoners, edgebanders, boring machines and machining centers, aimed at allowing "mass production in lots of one," were displayed at Ligna. The speed and sophistication of these machines enables rapid production of parts in which every item coming down the conveyor belt is different.

In the past, a reference to green machines simply meant the ubiquitous green color adorning the majority of industrial equipment. At Ligna, the "green" in machines took on a whole new meaning. Several machinery suppliers touted the efficiency of their equipment in terms of economical electrical consumption and the ability to enable more efficient dust extraction. Further, entire systems, designed to complement the machine's interface with the operator thereby letting the machinery do all the hard work, were exemplified by a preponderance of handling and stacking robots.

The robots on display at Ligna were a far cry from the early days of robotics. The robots exhibited at shows in the 1980s were marketed mainly for finishing. The robots featured in booths at Ligna were mainly dedicated to material handling applications, in which humans cannot deliver the speed and precise execution required by saws and machining centers working at blazing speeds. Thus ergonomics and repetitive motion stress are not an issue if humans are no longer required to do the lifting, pushing and piling.

Hollow Cutterhead

An unorthodox new edge timming diamond cutter head was introduced which is said to improve chip collection by more than 90% while reducing electrical consumption by 30% by using 70% less suction. Designed and engineered through the collaboration of the Technical University of Dresden, German cutting tool manufacturers, Leitz and Leuco, and equipment manufacturer Homag, the i-System cutterhead made a splash at Ligna.

With the i-System, chips are removed through an internal channel in the tool. The wood waste then travels through a much smaller dust collection nozzle located at the bottom of cutting tool's "hollow" center. Demonstrations of a traditional cutterhead working side by side with the i-System showed the new cutter head's remarkable chip removal capabilities as it did not produce the usual shower of shavings and dust.

In continuing with the "less is more" theme of recent machinery innovations in the last several years, smaller machines with greater capabilities were in the limelight at Ligna. Touting smaller "footprints," more speed and computer-controlled functions, many machine makers aimed their introductions at shops with limited floor space and/or limited budgets. Affordable and sophisticated computer controls on even the most basic machines are now commonplace.

Setup Is Everything

With computer controls and faster spindles pushing machining centers to new speed limits, much attention is being paid to quickening part fixturing and hold-down.

How fast a part can be put into place and secured, then removed so that the table bed can be prepared for the next part is crucial to reducing changeover so that small lot sizes, including individual pieces, can be processed in a more timely and cost-efficient manner. Several of the major point-to-point manufacturers showed new feed-through fixturing systems that quickly adapt to changes in part size.

New Products

The following roundup presents a sampling of products introduced at Ligna 2001. For more information, circle the appropriate number(s) on the Reader Service Card or, for faster response, use Info on

Altendorf introduced a new clear saw blade guard that improves dust collection efficiency on on its F-45 and Elmo sliding table saws. Digital readout and tilt-height readout are also becoming F-45 standards.

American Woodworking Machinery Distributors imports the Nardello SC 1800 Special, a beam saw for panels and drawers. The machine can be used as part of a beam and cross cutting line, allowing for one-man operation. Feed speeds up to 60m/minute are reportedly possible.

The Agilo universal press from asalo is said to be suitable for practically every shape and size of workpiece. Hydraulic units rotate 360 degrees. Pressure is released with fingertip operation, Indexing holes allow the workpiece to be matched with simplicity.

Barberan, represented in the U.S. by Allwood Machinery, introduced a UV powder coating line for finishing MDF in one pass without additional sanding. Priced at about $100,000, the system renders a finish with a thermofused melamine look and feel. It can also clearcoat.

Barberan also displayed a new profile wrapper machine series, also available from Allwood Machinery. They feature bedframes ready for automatic change of the lamination unit to a new profile shape.

Anderson America offers the Andi Magnum CNC processing center equipped with eight Innospann turnable multi-functional beams. The Innospann beams can be positioned to allow working horizontally on workpieces with the vertical adjusted spindle. The machine also has a 12-fold ran-rob tool magazine and a working range of 3,500mm on the X, 1,850mm on the Y and 300mm on the Z-axis.

Benz, which announced plans to open a Charlotte, NC, office, manufactures tool holders and aggregates for CNC machining centers. Products include taper shanks, right angle drilling and milling heads, multi-spindle drilling and milling heads and high-speed spindles.

The new Biesse Arrow solid wood processing center is equipped with ATS (Advanced Table Setting) bars and with Uniclamp devices for the secure locking of thick pieces up to 100mm. It has a working field of 3,012mm x 1,549mm.

Biesse also showed the Winner robotic load/unload system from RBO. The modularly built system features seven axis -- four axis to move panels and three axis to position panels.

Biesse introduced the Rover 24, a midrange machining center. It can process two interior doors at once. The working table is flexible and features easy-to-set tooling. Two electro spindles are in front with enough power to work on solid wood. It has 28 vertical boring spindles.

CMS North America offers the Triax 4T CNC machining center, that the company says combines the acceleration and velocity of a point-to-point with the strength of a router. It is available with a vacuum table or a vacuum pod and rail table in 4-ft by 12-ft or 4-ft by 17-ft sizes.

During Ligna, CMS announced that it had reached an agreement to become the North American agent for Rye Machinery of the UK. Among the products CMS will offer is the Rye/CMS QM CNC router, a 3-axis entry-level machine for processing wood, plastics, composites and aluminum. Key features includes traverse speeds of 40m/minute, spindle speeds up to 20,000 rpm, a 16-spindle boring head, and onboard seven-tool changer.

Carval offers the continuous automatic spiralling lathe from Renzo Borgonovo. It has been designed to make a wide range of spiraled pieces, such as rope mouldings starting with a simply sawn piece of practically endless length.

Striebig (Colonial Saw) introduced the Evolution vertical panel saw featuring a newly developed digital measuring system that is accurate to 0.01mm. Individual tasks such as locking and releasing the saw beam, setting the horizontal cutting height, plunging and swiveling the motor, and locking the support rollers during sawing are fully automatic.

Costa & Grissom introduced the Series KKA bottom and top widebelt sanding machine. It is available with two to six working units including planer units, drum units and sectioned pads. The machines utilize sanding belt lengths of 75 in. and 103 in. and working widths of 45 in. and 52 in.

The Celaschi Colibri single-sided window and door processing center from Danckaert Woodworking Machinery performs all functions of parts manufacturing in a small footprint. It is equipped with an automatic tool changer with 12 tool units and comes equipped with CAM integration software for the conversion of drawings from Auto CAD. The Colibri can be equipped with an optional robot for handling parts.

Delle Vedove showcased a new finishing system for mouldings with 100% solid UV coatings. The environmentally friendly system requires less than 10 square meters of floor space and has a throughput capacity of 15,000 lineal meters per shift, the company says.

Delle Vedove also displayed a modularly constructed profile sander that can be configured with four to 12 stations and incorporate a variety of sanding units and features to meet any sanding requirement for wood sanding and/or UY sealer sanding. The system can operate at speeds up to l00m/minute and can be outfitted with computerized machine controls for quick setup.

Delmac Machinery Group offers the Busellato Jet line, a flexible feedthrough CNC machining center. It features a double-track work bed with two mobile beams on the X-axis, each of which has two independent boring heads on the Y-axis. On the same track, the two beams and relative boring units, operate siinuitaneously on two panels, each in its own working area. In the meantime, two more panels are introduced and clamped on the second track ready for processing.

Delmac also offers the new 400-500 Series of Gabbiani single-sided edgebanders. These machines are available in multiple configurations. A new horizontal cutter is available for scoring laminate edgebanding prior to bullnosing, reportedly helping to extend the life of the bullnosing tool by up to 50 times.

Delmac announced the purchase of CPC, a 20-year-old Italian company specializing in the areas of automated assembling and packing for furniture, flooring and general components. Core products include conveyors and stretch wrapping equipment.

E&R System Technik offers the Stegherr NF groove cutter, designed for notching workpieces. The operator can enter and store 200 different cutting programs of 40 cutting positions each. The NF is available with either manual or automatic positioning fence.

Giben America introduced the Smart panel saw, designed for smaller woodworking shops. Manufactured by Giben of Brazil, the Smart has a PC-based controller, automatic side alignment, 65mm blade projection, 18-hp motor, an electronically controlled pusher and heavy-duty saw carriage.

Giben also displayed its new robotic gripping system that is attached to a Fanuc i-Series robot. The gripper is capable of handling sheets up to 4 ft by 12 ft and weighing up to 250kg. The system is geared toward one-man operation of a panel saw and to meet foreseeable ergonomics regulations.

Grecon-Dimter, another member of the Weinig Group, introduced the ProfiPress edge-glue press. The glue application systems measure the exact dosage required to help reduce glue consumption and contamination of the machine. Active alignment of every single strip during feeding into the press prevents mismatching and saves timber and sanding costs.

Holz-Her showed off the Unimaster point-to-point machine. It has 11 independent vertical spindles, a double horizontal spindles in the X and Y axis, a 10-hp electro-spindle variable speed motor and a six-position traveling tool changer.

Also available from Holz-Her is the Cosmeq Conquest 510-512 CNC machining center. Features include drilling unit with 10 independent vertical spindles and four horizontal spindles on the X axis and two horizontal spindles on the Y axis plus a saw blade.

Holzma, div, of Stiles Machinery, offers the robotic HPL panel saw. The single robot brings high-efficiency to the production process by stacking differently dimensioned parts in five separate locations. An adjustable clamp on the robot's arm picks and places finished stacks. It is also capable of picking different parts from stacks in the job lots for subsequent machining or packaging operations.

Holzma's HFL 66 angular system features an automatic blade changing system for its tandem saw carriage, supported by up to a 20-blade capacity magazine that can change a blade in less than 30 seconds.

Hymmen Group displayed its ContiFloor Double Band Press for direct laminating of laminate flooring. Features include high process capability, low thermal impact and consistent quality.

IMA America demonstrated the strength of its new IFS Folding System by hanging a heavy rock from a sample displayed in a glass case. The system involves V-grooving strips and boring a hole through which a liquid plastic is injected along the seam. Using the system, IMA says a cabinet can be manufactured and assembled per 30 seconds.

IMA introduced the Dyna-Point numerical vacuum block positioning system, which it referred to as an "intelligent clamping device.' This system, used on IMA BIMA workcenters, features support bars that can move independently of each other or in tandem to quickly accommodate changing workpiece dimensions.

Italpresse, which recently opened a new office in Punta Gorda, FL, introduced the Trans-Former membrane press, geared toward custom manufacturers who work with a variety of materials. The versatile press' 4-ft by 8-ft working area can do 3D thermofused laminating, flat cold pressing and flat hot pressing.

Italpresse also showed off a new hydraulic door assembly clamp. This flexible system allows users to change programmed setups from one door size to another. It can be used for stile and rail doors, entry doors, interior doors and louvre doors.

Koch Systems Ltd.'s Sprint-Plus-L single-sided CNC machine features additional 3-axis routing capability, plus vertical and horizontal boring, glue injection and dowel insertion. It is especially designed for small-batch manufacturing drawer and door parts. The working field is 2,500mm.

Koch Systems also presented the model SBD-PTP, a double-sided through-feed point-to-point machine with an automatic stock return conveyor for one-man operation. Processes performed by the machine include sawing, boring, gluing, vertical dowel driving and edge boring. It can handle parts ranging from 120mm to 2,500mm long.

The Leitz i-system, as mentioned above, is designed to improve chip removal through a process called dust-flow control. While conventional tools extract wood chips alongside the already cut groove, the DFC tool acts like an excavator and pulls the chips out of the groove. Together with a specialized extraction hood, Leitz says more than 95% of the chips are collected.

The Leuco Tribos clamping system for cutting tools features a collet which has an inner contour shaped like a spherical triangle. This special shape is said to deliver longer cutting tool life with less vibration, especially at high speeds.

Leuco is also one of the three partners involved in developing the i system cutting tool system described at the beginning of this article.

Makor introduced the Vaccumak, a high-production UV profile finishing system. It can handle pieces 0.4 in. to 8 in. wide. Feed speed ranges from 93 to 394 fpm;. The minimum working length is 15 1/2 in.

Makor also offers the FTL/HE HighPowered Linear UV Drying Oven which allows the polymerization in line of photosensitive UV varnishes and paint materials. It is designed for use when varnish or paint is applied with sprayer or vacuum on linear mouldings, picture frames, window components, etc.

Martin unveiled the T 73 sliding table saw available in four models from basic to CNC. All models feature a steel-concrete-compound frame. The rip fence can be lowered below table level to accommodate large panels and boards.

Masterwood displayed the MW 280, a nesting machining center with two zones for pendulum production. Each of the zones is an oversized 4-ft by 8-ft table. An eight-position tool changer feeds 10-1/2-hp spindle.

The Sicar Meta 950 from Masterwood USA is a 37-in. widebelt sander. It has a combination roller/platen with motorized bed adjustment.

Mayer introduced a new generation of panel saws with high throughput and more advanced software. Included is the PS2 Profi which has up to a 6-in. blade projection and up to a 36-hp motor. Optional "power packs" take the saw carriage speed up to 440 fpm and optimize machine functions such as beam opening, potentially improving productivity by 10% over the standard configuration, the company says.

Mereen-Johnson Machine Co.'s

312-DC/SR Select-A-Rip made its Ligna debut. It is designed for quick changeovers and material optimization. Saw blades are easily positioned through the new open-designed pressure head. Other features include laser light alignment to rip lumber with consistency and glue joint accuracy.

Midwest Automation displayed the Miniform MF 118D Wide Track, a compact, double-sided, feed-through post-forming machine designed for small to mid-sized shops. The spring-loaded quick change forming and compression roller assemblies allow users to postform a wide variety of standard profiles with minimal or no setup.

Multiax, a manufacturer of CNC routers, exhibited a programmable pod system that speeds the set-up of part hold-down without the use of jigs. Actuation of each pod is totally independent; the pod array can be programmed by part size and shape. The minimal distance between pod centers is 30mm to handle small parts like trim moulding components and clearance height of up to 50mm is possible to facilitate horizontal boring.

Ogden Enterprises presents the Terminator 250, a fast, continuous feed, thin-cutting frame saw. The saw frame is removed from the side of the machine for quick saw frame changes. Options include driven guiding system and opposed planer heads.

Omga displayed the FP2000 NC, a programmable pusher that can be fitted to any machine. It is available in 2m, 3m and 4m lengths. The stop slides on hardened steel rails at a maximum speed of 60m/minute.

Panhans introduced the 690B Electronic III Plus sliding table saw. It has a memory for storing 999 programs for recalling sawblade height, tilt and the rip fence position.

Panhans also displayed the 245 tilt spindle overhead shaper. The overhead control panel, stock feeder and swinging fence are all mounted to one column.

Paul Saws showed a new laminate flooring rip system. Cameras position the board to make sure the grain is properly orientated. Up to 11 moving blades, each with its own servo motor, help maximize flexibility and speed changeover.

Interholz Raimann made its first Ligna showing as part of the Weinig Group. The company's booth snared a lot of attention for a new automatic cutting line consisting of a robot system and an optimizing saw with two movable cutterheads and logging of operational data controlled by voice command and sound waves. The operator gave language orders to the ripsaw and the robot at the same time. The system showed how robots can be commanded verbally to provide quality stacking and as an interface for downstream machines.

SCM Group USA offers the new Morbidelli Author 800. The machine features a triangular-section frame and a heavy-section beam, a machining area of 4,200mm by 1,700mm by 180mm and traverse speeds exceeding 90m/minute. Each of the two electro-spindles is equipped with a Rapid 10 automatic tool changer.

SCM Group USA also offers the Galaxy 140 panel saw made by Gabbiani Macchine. It has a 30-hp main motor on a carriage that rides along THK guides both vertically and horizontally. Feed speeds up to 500 fpm are possible. Other features include 3D software, magnetic strips as opposed to encoders for positioning and a patented blade changing system.

The IDM Activa R edgebander from SCM Group USA comes in many configurations typically determined by the application from coiled tape and 3mm Pvc to 1-in. lumber.

Also available from SCM Group USA is the Olimpic S212/S220 range of edgebanders. It is well suited for large production runs but also features quick changeover capabilities to handle small runs. Features include digital indicators for setup, an interchangeable glue pot for quick color change, and 4mm guillotine for cutting thick PVC and wood coils.

Solid Wood Systems offers the Balestrini Idea 5-axis twin-table ONO machining center. It is designed specifically to machine chair parts and other solid wood components. The center features high automation with a relatively small footprint.

Homag (Stiles Machinery) introduced Powerline, a system for efficient single-unit production. This processing center featured a high-speed, high-output processing system for production of up to 22 different parts per minute. Demonstrations on this machine showed cross-cut sawing, staggered stacking of different sized parts on the same stack, staggered reeding, sizing, edge colors and profile trimming parts of various shapes and sizes.

The Cefla Finishing Group, also represented by Stiles Machinery, featured an economical moulding finishing system which handles staining, sealing and top coating on three sides of a profile. The system was equipped with an automatic offloading and drying rack system.

Heian (Stiles Machinery) displayed a fully-automated, nested-based MDF door manufacturing line that provides virtual hands-off production. The line featured material handling, panel cleaning, dual loading, machining, part removal, barcode part labeling, offloading and spoil hoard management. The installation also included automated sanding, Cefla surface gluing and Wemhoner pressing system.

James L. Taylor, a manufacturer of clamp carriers, clamps and other assembly equipment, introduced its "New Ideas in Edge Gluing Technology" CD Rom. It is available in multiple languages.

Gannomat displayed the Spectrum drilling and dowel insertion machine. It features a width-adjustable automatic return conveyor for one-man operation. It is available from Tritec Associates.

Tritec also offers the new Gannomat Matrix 250-40 CNC point-to-point drilling, gluing and dowel inserting machine. It features seven vertical boring spindles and two horizontal borg spindles.

Vecoplan LLC introduced the RG 52U Shorty wood grinder. It features throughput of up to 18,000 lbs per hour and has a drive motor of 40 to 125 hp. It comes with touchpad monitoring and control.

Weing introduced the Profimat 26 Super moulder, the successor to the company's popular Profimat 23E. It comes in either a five- or six-spindle version and is available with up to 10 1/4-in. working width capacity and a range of additional equipment.

Wintersteiger displayed a modular thin cutting circular saw used for the production of lamellas. The modular design allows the machine to be suited to any customer's needs and can easily be put into existing production lines.
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Title Annotation:Ligna-Plus
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Aug 1, 2001
Previous Article:Globalization Is Here! What Can We Do?
Next Article:Furniture Flexibility the Key for Many NeoCon Exhibitors.

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