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Environmental, educational concerns affect sanding.

In addition to improvements in sanding equipment, manufacturers target improved machinery and operator training to help boost productivity.

While improvements in sanding technology have historically been based on saving time and money, the focus has expanded to include saving the environment. As customers grow more aware of the need to maximize resources, their interest in high-tech equipment increases.

User education is another area of concern. Training, ranging from simple troubleshooting to learning to run CNC equipment, has helped increase sanding productivity.

Conserving raw materials

As the cost of raw materials become more expensive, customers are seeking means of using timber and veneer more effectively. In the past, the attitude was, "if you can remove enough stock, you can get a good finish," said Joe Abbott, SCMI product manager. Now, high tolerances sanding with minimal stock removal is becoming more and more important. In an effort to conserve, customers are using thinner veneers.

With the use of thinner veneers, the demand for segmented polishing platens has increased due to the accuracy of the platens in following the shape of the panel and contours within the panel. Segmented platens also eliminate dubbing and sand-through.

A segmented platen can have up to 80 elements, said Randy Grissom, president of Costa & Grissom Machinery. The company uses chevron belts and lamellar belts with felt strips, on its platens. According to Grissom, the chevron belt helps eliminate sanding's worst enemy -- heat. "Actually, the sanding abrasive is a cutting tool with a lot of small knifes, either for aggression or for polishing." When a panel is hit with a lot of pressure, or force, the platen has a tendency to push the grain down and generate a lot of heat, he added. Sanding with air pressure instead of force and implementing the chevron belts helps to dissipate the heat which allows a more uniform finish at a higher grit without varnishing the panel, he said.

The sectional polished platens can be electronically or pneumatically controlled. A typical electronic sanding platen is a $12,000 upgrade, whereas a pneumatic sanding platen can be added for $600, Abbott said. Although the electronic is more sensitive to the workpiece, a pneumatic platen will also give the customer more flexibility than a standard machine, while allowing him to work with thinner veneers.

Machines working to save time and energy

Productivity has also been increased by combining the sanding units with other pieces of machinery, such as a double-end tenoner or edgebander. Taking it one step further, the Arminius STL-15 combines four separate and time-consuming processes -- profile sanding, dust removal, vacuum lacquering and UV drying.

"This machine will have a wide range in the industry," Steve Leedham, Arminius product manager at Stiles Machinery, said, "including cabinetmakers, office furniture manufacturers, and anyone who deals with a wood edge."

In addition, one of the biggest frustrations in sanding has been that the sanding tool did not perfectly match the shape of the profile, said Mike Hall, marketing manager of Stiles Machinery. Arminius, for example, offers an optical scanning device that reportedly improves the quality of edge profile sanding because the tooling is digitally matched against the profile.

With the optic sensor, a customer can digitize the profile of the cutter of the sanding pad. The two lines should become one. Since the tool is digitally matched against a specified profile, it will indicate when a piece is out of "spec" by missing parts of the profile.

Dust collection also a top concern

Despite the absence of a federal wood dust standard, dust collection continues to be a major concern in sanding. According to Harold Kapaun, sales manager at Timesavers, secondary wood products manufacturers are taking the initiative regarding wood dust. Despite fears that wood manufacturers would act as if they were "off the hook" in controlling wood dust, Kapaun said research in the past six months shows that they are still concerned with providing a healthy environment for their employees.

In addition, dust collection gives a better finish and extends belt life. Without a dust collection system, the dust will follow the abrasive belt around and eventually become embedded into the belt, shortening the belt life, he said. Also, an abrasive that is loaded with dust cannot provide a decent finish. Kapaun added that wood dust can build up on bearings, thus causing deterioration and reducing bearing life.

User education needed

As education awareness grows, equipment manufacturers are providing seminars and in-house training to ensure the proper operation of the machinery. Kapaun said the sanding seminars held at trade shows have been very effective. Individual seminars on preventative maintenance and proper alignment are offered by many equipment suppliers.

Education and visits to plants have eliminated quite a few sanding problems, Kapaun said. Kapaun said he was amazed to learn how many customers were running cloth belts to sand hardwoods instead of paper belts. Paper costs about half the price of cloth, he said, and gives a better finish because the abrasive on paper belts is more uniform than on cloth belts.

Skipping too many grits is another mistake he sees in the field. One company was using 80 grit on the first run and followed it with 180 grit. By skipping the 100 and 120 grit, it was difficult for the 180 to take out the scratch left by the 80 grit, he added. "The rule is: never skip more than one belt," he said.

According to Duane Griffiths, manager of educational services at Stiles Machinery, attendees frequently ask, "How do I get a consistently sanded profile with the desired sanding scratches to attain the quality that I'm after?" Stiles offers specialized profile sanding seminars in a classroom setting that provides hands-on training. Attendees learn how to combine the right abrasive, equipment and man-power to achieve the quality edge.

SCMI will also provide sanding seminars. Beginning in June, the company will travel across the nation with a four-head CNC sander. In addition to the scheduled seminars, the sander will be brought to individual facilities.

SCMI has already scheduled 19 appearances of its travelling sanding technology lab as of press time. Some of the facilities include William J. Redmond & Son of Atlanta, Ga. and Pruitt Machinery, of Hickory, N.C. For more information call (404) 813-8818.

SCMI said it also advances the use of partnerships between sanding equipment companies, abrasives companies and finishing manufacturers to ensure that customers get the proper products for their needs. For example, SCMI works with VSM Abrasives and Guardsman Products.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Increasing Productivity.
Author:Dunne, Beverly
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:May 1, 1993
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