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Challengers Awards salute innovation.

This year's winners reflect the diversity of productivity developments in the woodworking industry.

Seventy-nine products were pitted against each other in the Challengers Distinguished Achievement Awards at IWF '98, only seven of which went home winners.

The seven winning entries, chosen from 21 finalists, were honored at an Aug. 20 ceremony. Representatives of the winning companies received a Challengers Award sculpture designed exclusively for IWF by artist Carol Marks.

A description of each of the winning products follows.

Altendorf's Tip-Servo-Drive

Wilfried Meyer, manager of applications technology, Altendorf GmbH, was involved in the development of the company's Tip-Servo-Drive system. He summed up the key feature of the drive - the first electric motor drive for the sliding table of a sliding table saw - in one word, "easy."

The Tip-Servo-Drive is controlled by a light pressure from the operator's hand. It allows the operator to feed through material from an upright position, which is much more comfortable and less tiring for the operator than the bent-over position normally required, Meyer said.

The patent-pending Tip-Servo-Drive, which can be used on all models of Altendorf sliding table saws, also helps users obtain a better cut and makes the table saw safer to operate, Meyer added. The drive can be retro fitted to equipment already in the field, he said.

Bill Cariano, vice president and general manager of the Altendorf America division of Stiles Machinery, Grand Rapids, MI, said that receiving a Challengers Award for the Tip-Servo-Drive was an exciting honor and that it also was nice to receive recognition for the company's engineers.

"It reinforces and motivates you to continue to provide new enhancements for the benefit of customers," Cariano said. "It amazes me how our engineers continue to develop ways to improve such a basic piece of equipment."

Cariano added that the technological improvements in metalworking and other equipment used to produce the saws have been instrumental in helping the company produce new and better models in a cost-effective way.

For more information, contact Altendorf America at (616) 698-8456;

Cabinet Vision's Solid Professional Software

Cabinet Vision Inc. of Carlsbad, CA, was honored with a Challengers Award for its "CNC Technology for Custom Casework." The product, Solid Professional software, allows the programming of custom parts on CNC machinery.

"Until now, the revolution of CNC machinery was primarily used for stock applications because the programming of custom parts was too time consuming for a single run," said Cabinet Vision president Roger Taylor. With Solid Professional, at the same time custom casework is designed graphically on screen, parts and CNC operations to create them are generated instantly in the form of solid models. The onscreen solid model of the custom casework provides immediate visual validation of the parts, joinery and necessary CNC operations prior to milling.

With its fast, simple setup, Solid Professional provides the custom casework manufacturer with the machine efficiency necessary to produce both stock and custom parts without the need to program the machine, Taylor said.

"We are extremely pleased to have been selected as a winner in this international competition and we are especially proud to be the only design and detailing software system so honored," Taylor said.

For more information, contact Cabinet Vision at (800) 7538009;

IMA's Combiform Feed-Through Contour Edgebender

Complex shapes, rounded edges and other designer touches are some of the hottest trends in furniture design. They also pose some of the biggest headaches and challenges for high-production manufacturers.

The Challengers Award-winning Combflorin profiler/edgebander from IMA AG, parent company of the newly formed IMA America of Raleigh, NC, may be just the pain reliever some companies have been looking for.

"The idea behind the machine was to step out of the box and design a feed-through edgebander that can handle shaped pieces," said Mike Hawkins, marketing manager for IMA America. "Anybody can do it on a one-time basis by handshaping edges, but to do it on a consistent basis in a production environment was a need we identified. So IMA's engineers put pencil to paper and came up with this idea."

The Combiform produces curves, slants, cut-aways and complex forms in one pass. The combination machine looks like a conventional single-sided edgebander from the outside, but it has several additional machining features that help set it apart. Particleboard, MDF and laminated panels can be processed through a series of servo-controlled cutterheads that can profile the part and edgeband boards with cut-away areas up to 400mm. The Combiform can be programmed with DXF fries to process almost any workpiece length necessary. It can process workpieces at a line speed of 10 to 25 meters per minute.

Other features of the Combiform include:

* Two rough cut heads and two fine-trimming traits to prepare the board for edgebanding or soft-forming.

* A hot-melt station that applies the glue to the back of the edgebanding material because it is flat whereas the board's edge may be profiled.

* An end trimming unit that has a tool rack allowing for quick tool changeover.

* A scraper unit that removes excess glue which is particularly advantageous for soft-formed edges, which are prone to greater glue squeezeout.

For more information, contact IMA America at (919) 484-3130.

Mirka's Abralon Sanding Disks

Twinsburg, OH-based Mirka Abrasives Inc. was presented with a Challengers Award for its Abralon line of sanding discs.

The discs, made for micro-finishing of wood furniture, fit on all types of random orbital sanders and feature a unique construction of mesh fabric evenly coated with abrasive particles. The mesh is laminated to a foam pad and a brushed cloth backing for attachment to hook-faced backup pads.

"You can run it wet, dry, with oil or with compounds," said Robert Newman, vice president of Mirka. "It's the first innovative thing in sandpaper for the rub room in years."

Mirka says the product is best suited for use with different types of lubricants because the lubricants flow around the abrasive grains and are absorbed or released by the foam backing as required. The pad's foam center also provides even surface pressure which helps to eliminate marks on the finished surface.

Newman said Mirka tested its new product with several major furniture manufacturers and found that cross-grain scratches were eliminated, cut-through was reduced and finishing times were decreased dramatically. "Jobs that used to require fine, warterproof sandpapers and manual sanding can be done in 25 percent of the time with Abralon and an orbital sander," Newman said.

Newman said training times were also reduced. "At one plant, training times went from six months down to three weeks," he said, adding that because it can be used with a lightweight sander, physical exertion and stress for the operator are also decreased.

Abralon was in development for almost two years before being released in January. So far, the response has been "phenomenal," according to Newman. "One of the judges used to be in a rub room himself and now he's an executive at a furniture company," said Newman. "He could not believe what he saw."

Abralon sanding pads are available in 6-inch diameters in grits ranging from 180 (medium) to 4000 (mirror fine).

For more information contact Mirka at (800) 843-3904.

Morton's Lamineer Wood Powder Coating

Morton International cracked a home run in its first trip to IWF. The multi-billion dollar corporation, best known as a producer of table salt, won a Challengers Award for Lamineer, a new line of low-temperature-curing powder coatings for wood, wood composites and select plastics.

Steven Kiefer, director of product development & applications engineering for Morton Powder Coatings of Reading, PA, said, "We entered the competition not knowing who or what the competition would be. Winning a Challengers Award adds credibility to what we are doing and tells us how important finishing is to the wood products industry."

Kiefer said Lamineer represents more than three years of research and development. The coatings are applied in a one-step process requiring no priming or prepping. The powder is sprayed onto a flat or vertically hung part by corona discharge electrostatic spray guns or by turbo charging guns. The coating is then cured in a convection or infrared oven at about 200F, considerably lower than conventional powder coatings. In addition, Morton says Lamineer is a 100 percent solids finish that produces no volatile organic compounds or hazardous air pollutants.

Lamineer is available in clears, translucents and a wide range of colors, glosses and surface textures. The company says it will meet or exceed the performance of vinyl laminates and liquid paints. Targeted industries include manufacturers of office furniture, cabinets and RTA furniture.

During a press conference held four hours before the Challengers Award winners were announced, Kiefer referred to two displays in the Morton display room to illustrate Lamineer's potential advantages over other types of wood finishes and decorative laminates. The first example was an office setting featuring a tapered-edge MDF desktop finished with only one coat of Lamineer that traditionally would require multiple coats of finish or edgebanding to achieve. The second display of white kitchen cabinets sporting one-piece raised panel doors showed how Lamineer can emulate the look of membrane pressing with much less effort, requiring fewer steps and materials.

Powder coatings for wood have been available for more than 20 years, but without great commercial success. "Up to now they have met the key areas of economic and environmental benefits but have fallen short in the areas of application and performance consistency," Kiefer said. He added that a big obstacle for wood powder coating has been achieving faster cures at lower temperatures.

"A curing temperature that is 5 degrees too hot or cold can lower performance. If it's too hot you can scorch the wood before the finish melts and flows. If it's too cold, you can't achieve a proper cure with standard powder coatings."

Kiefer said Morton's patented chemistry answers some of the problems commonly associated with wood powder coatings, including:

1. Lamineer is a free-flowing powder at room temperature.

2. Ingredients added to Lamineer's chemistry allow it to take an electrostatic charge to wood without compromising other performance characteristics.

3. It allows rapid flow and cure at low temperatures.

While Lamineer represents a new direction for Morton, powder coatings are hardly new to the company. Morton's Powder Coating Division has 40 years of experience serving the metal working industry.

While Kiefer said Morton will initially target larger OEM customers, he ultimately sees it trickling down to smaller woodworking operations as well, adding that will happen "sooner rather than later." To emphasize that point he drew a parallel to the metal working industry in which he said, "There are 1,000 custom job shops nationwide."

For more information, contact Morton International at (610) 775-6600.

Resource Recycling's Reusable Spray Booth Filters

Janet and Keith Brown had been thinking about something they assumed would have been tried by now in the woodworking industry: long-lasting, reusable and environmentally friendly spray booth filters. As it turns out, their company, Resource Recycling of Columbia, SC, is the standard-bearer for a re-usable filter, a product which garnered an IWF Challengers Award.

"All other filters, which are made of styrofoam or paper, last around tour hours, and the disposal of them is wasteful and creates a labor expense," said Keith Brown. "Since our filter is made out of polymer and plastic with an anti-static agent, it can last between five and 15 years. We thought the industry would have a product like ours out there somewhere, but it didn't."

The filter, which has been marketed by Resource Recycling for about a year and a half, also has a convenience in that any dried particles can be removed with a broom or hand brush. It is available in a size of 20 inches by 20 inches, which fits most spray booth specifications, as well as a 20 inch by 25 inch size. When the filter eventually needs to be replaced, the material properties allow it to be recycled.

"We were trying to find a niche for some time, and we got the idea for this type of filter from talking to an environmental manager," Janet Brown said. "Our company was originally involved in offering environmental services, so this is our first product."

For more information, contact Resource Recycling at (803) 788-6196.

Wemhoner's Vario Pin Support System

Wemhoner has a history of success at IWF shows. Its Variopress membrane press won a Challengers Award in 1990. Now the press' new Vario Pin support System has earned the company another Challengers Award in 1998.

"When membrane pressing three-dimensional boards, you have to take care to have a water-tight bond on the edges, in particular the bottom of the edge," said Lutz Harodt, vice president of Wemhoner America of Charlotte, NC. Harodt said the old way was to place raiser boards under the panels that needed to be pressed to make sure they were lifted off of the pallet to catch the bottom edge. As a result, companies were forced to keep shelves of raiser boards handy. The Vario Pin system eliminates the need for the extra boards.

"With the system, we detect where the boards are before they are pressed, and it raises the boards automatically," Harodt said. The boards are placed on a pallet, which has 4,000, 27mm pins. An overhead light scans the position of the boards. The pins that are covered by a board do not sense the light and remain raised, while the ones that do sense the light go down, allowing the sides to be covered by the laminate.

Wemhoner spent more than two years and invested more than $1 million to develop the system. Harodt said woodworking companies who are using the system are discovering its advantages. "It is saving cutting time by half and saving 30 percent labor," he said. The press can be used for frames and panels, and the automotive industry has been using it in the production of dashboards as well.

Harodt said that the 1998 Challengers Award will help the company in marketing the support system in the United States. Although the system had been used in Europe, there were only four systems in the United States before IWF '98. That number should increase now, he said.

For more information, contact Werehoner America at (704) 357-0066.

17th Challengers Award Competition

The seven winners of the 1998 Challengers Distinguished Achievement Awards were chosen from 21 finalists. The original field featured 79 products entered by 69 companies.

1998 Winners

Altendorf America Tip-Servo-Drive System

Cabinet Vision Solid Professional software

IMA Combiform feed-through contour edgebander

Mirka Abrasives Abralon sanding disks Morton International Lamineer wood powder coatings

Resource Recycling Reusable paint booth filter

Wemhoner America Varig Pin Support System

Other Finalists

Barr-Mullin The Brute

The Collins Co.s Certified plywood & particleboard

Fletcher Machine Rotary sanding wheel

Group Seven Systems Lumber scanning/Optimizing System

Integrated Solutions/GreCon Dimter Mill Manager

Jacaranda RealTec Veneer

Lenderink Technology Dribond adhesive film

Macoser Centuaro CNC turning lathe

Mepla Inc. Full-extension drawer runner

Ogden Ent./Wintersteiger GmbH Thin-cutting frame saw

SCMI Topset 23 moulder

Trigen Ewing Power BP 150 steam turbine generator

Weinig Moulder production/optimization system

Challengers Awards Judges

Richard Campbell, Norwalk Furniture, Chairman

Mark Bernhard, Bernhard Woodwork

Jerry Cochrane, Cochrane Furniture

Paul Eisele, Masco Corp.

David Grubb, Knoll Group

Don Hinsdale, Homecrest Corp.

Steve Jacobs, Woodcraft Ind.

Roger Jones, Century Furniture

Don Krug, Bush Ind.

A.J. Ottinger, Henkel-Harris Co.

Doug Williams, Hooker Furniture
COPYRIGHT 1998 Vance Publishing Corp.
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Title Annotation:Challengers Distinguished Achievement Awards for the woodworking industry
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Oct 1, 1998
Previous Article:IWF '98 is one for the books.
Next Article:Woodworking education group officially blasts off at IWF '98.

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