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Wide selections in widebelts.

From basic manual models to CNC machines, a wide range of widebelt sanders is available to accommodate a variety of production needs.

While there is new technology in the field of widebelt sanders, there does not appear to be any single development sweeping the marketplace. Rather, machinery manufacturers are picking and choosing different machine functions as their focus for new developments. As a result, today's selection of widebelt sanders offers something for everyone.

At the lower end of the scale is the totally manual model -- a no-frills workhorse that is affordable for the small shop and a popular machine. Joe Abbott, product manager of widebelt sanders for SCMI Corp., said, "The small starter units, 24- or 37-inch models, have become an aggressive market, with manufacturers lowering prices to get smaller shops into the market."

While they remain basic units, manual machines have been improved by manufacturers to speed setup and increase performance. Newer features include being able to adjust for grit set and the addition of belt tracking systems. Also, some adjustments can now be done by flipping a switch on the outside of the machine, instead of having to take a wrench and go inside, said Randy Grissom, president of Costa & Grissom Machinery. "A lot of the problems with setups have been taken away, even in the manual machines," Grissom said.

Todd Herzog, vice president/marketing of Powermatic, said that interest in widebelt sanders is increasing among smaller shops and that's the market "where the real opportunity will continue to be." Herzog said that Powermatic's most recent development was to put a 10-horsepower single-phase American motor on its 25-inch model. Used with a "Soft Start," it operates as a true single-phase machine, he said. "A lot of smaller shops or even medium-sized shops in very rural areas only have single-phase available to them," he added. "This gives them a true single-phase machine."

At Cemco, the combination knife planer/sander continues to be popular, said director of marketing Gene Brooks. "With the combination machine, you can take a panel straight from glue up to a finished part," Brooks said.

The middle ground

Looking at a higher-end machine, automatic electronic setup is the development mentioned most often by manufacturers as recent technology, even though it is not brand new. "It's been available for the past three to four years, but it's been pushed more during the past year," said Harold Kapaun, sales manager for Timesavers Inc. With these devices, factors such as the height of the machine, conveyor speed, belt speed, belt direction and sanding pressure can be set automatically.

Another relatively new and popular feature is digital readout for setting the opening on a machine, which improves accuracy and also speeds setup. According to most of the manufacturers polled, digital readout is available on almost all new machines sold today.

Among the new technology developed by individual companies, Linden International Inc. is focusing on widebelt sanders that use only contact rollers and no platens, said sales and service manager Steve Grivna. "Contact rollers are good for crossgrain work, which especially suits the cabinetmaker doing doors and face frames," he said. "We can run contact rollers on our machine that will take grits up to 280 to 300 and not get burnishing."

The key to these new models is that the roller is made of an extremely soft rubber, Grivna said. "It's not as aggressive as harder rubber. But a cabinet shop generally will not use very course abrasives anyway."

Conversely, Timesavers' new technology has focused on the polishing platen head. The company just introduced a new three-head machine where the platen oscillates back and forth, Kapaun said. The reciprocation reduces the number of cuts and grooves in the graphite backing on the pad to get better polishing and helps eliminate wear and tear on the pad, he said.

At the upper end

For maximum control and flexibility there are CNC widebelt sanders. An operator enters a part number or scans a bar code and the machines sets itself up totally. Computerization goes as far as controlling complete lines, Grissom said. In addition, special operations can be programmed, he said, such as taking a round top and programming the machine to sand just in the center of it.

"I think (CNC widebelt sanders) will take off in the market now, given the popularity of CNC equipment in general," Abbott said.

Segmented pad widebelt sanders are also becoming more sophisticated and generating more interest, according to L. Duane Griffiths, manager of educational services at Stiles Machinery Inc. These machines have a series of pads across the width of the feed belt. They have sensors to detect the thickness of the panel and adjust the sanding pressure to accommodate variations, he said. Recently, pads are becoming wider and can be swiveled up and down at the toe or heel to provide even more refinement in how aggressive the cut is, he added.

The new segmented pad technology helps provide an extremely even sanding quality, while the workpiece is sanded thoroughly and edges are protected from sand-through, said Ingrid Volk of European Woodworking Machinery Co. She said that with a new Heesemann system, for example, the individual sanding segments are switched by solenoids which control the pressure.

George Force, president of Force Machinery Co., said that demand for computer-controlled sectional pad sanders is increasing as customers look to widebelt sanders to handle a broader range of applications. "We see people who are trying to do more with a widebelt sander today," Force said. "The limits are being pushed. "It's popular now to buy widebelt sanders for finishing operations. Years ago, people wouldn't have dreamed of using a widebelt sander for finishing."

As widebelt sanders are being used more an more for sanding of delicate materials, such as veneers and polyesters, they must be more mistake-proof, Force added. "Ways to avoid costly mistakes -- that's what customers want," he said, "and that's done through electronics and sectional pads."

Widebelt machines designed for sanding high-gloss lacquers will be a $2 million to $3 million market in the next two to three years, Abbott predicted, and are the focus of SCMI's latest technology. A new unit for the lacquer market features variable speed on the abrasive belt and has a separate head with an independent motor for buffing with a 1,200 to 1,500 grit abrasive. This eliminates the need for a buffing compound, Abbott said. The machine also has a polishing unit.

"There is an increasing market for high-gloss lacquers that is very strong in Southern California, Miami and New York, which are usually the focal points for new trends that will spread," Abbott said. "Already, 80 percent of the widebelt sanders sold in Europe are for the lacquer market."

Dust collection a key function

With OSHA's new limits on wood dust, attention is also being given to the effectiveness of widebelt sanders' collection systems.

"It's more prevalent to see dust pickup hoods at both the top and bottom of the head," Griffiths said. "Traditionally, they have been at the bottom only. When there is also a hood at the top, the excess dust that is left gets picked up there."

Another relatively new feature, according to Griffiths, is oscillating nozzles at the top which blow dust off the belt and help prevent loading. He said that they are gaining wider acceptance.

Grissom said that a new return system is available on the Costa machines to extract dust-filled air, clean it and return it to the machine.

Timesavers has just introduced new high efficiency dust hoods that have been under development for two years, Kapaun said. He said that they should improve dust collection on their machines by 40 percent.

Improvements in a sander's dust collection system help compensate for the lack of dust collection capacity at many plants, several manufacturers said. "If the machines are hooked up the way we recommend, dust collection is very efficient," Kapaun said. "But often when companies buy new equipment, they are hooking it to old dust collection equipment that doesn't have enough capacity to handle it."

Widebelts on the market

Since there is a big variety of widebelt sanders on the market, many designed for specific functions, potential buyers should explore what's available to find a model to suit their exact needs. Following are some of the models currently available.

For additional information about any model, circle the corresponding number on the Reader's Service Card. The WOOD & WOOD PRODUCTS Red Book Buyer's Guide also includes a sanding equipment chart with information on widebelt sanders.

Ramco Inc.'s Series 103 widebelt sanders are available in dual and triple head models with 32-, 38-, 50-, and 62-in. belt widths. The units have a modular design to ensure complete flexibility in setting up tandem and multiple head arrangements, the company says. The 103 allows operators to change from a cutting belt to finishing belt safety with minimum down time, the company says. Circle #212

Seco says its widebelt sanders have shown outstanding performance, dependability, accuracy and quality at affordable prices for the past six years. Sizes range from 24 to 52 in. and all feature a computer feed table adjustment system. Other features include: infrared tracking, platen and volt and amp meters. Cirle #213

The 80/800/8000 series from Costa & Grissom Machinery Co. Inc. gives a full range from manual to computer operation. The 8000 has total computerized control with optional bar code capability. The pad elements can be set positive or negative to sand warped panels properly, the company says. Circle #214

Sunhill Machinery says its SDM Series of widebelt sanders are produced with the most reliable tracking and oscillation system (pneumatic) and are available in sizes ranging from 25 up to 52 in. Features include: digital electronics, power tables, variable feed speeds, TECO motors and various head combinations. Circle #215

Widebelt sanders are available from Halsty Manufacturing in 10-hp/1-ph, 15-hp/3-ph or 20-hp/3-ph models. A hand wheel raises or lowers the conveyor bed. Features include: built-in dust hood, 37-in. by 75-in belt, color-coded push buttons and load meter. Circle #216

The DA-3760 36-in. widebelt sander from Lobo Power Tools features: two 20-hp main motors, 2-hp feeding and computer-controlled automatic adjusting table. It has a 37-in. maximum width and 5-in. maximum thickness. Circle #217

Derda Inc. offers the Ghermandi automatic widebelt sander for veneer sanding, veneer tape removal and "wet look" sanding applications. It comes with one to three heads. Belt speed ranges from 25 to 100 fpm. Circle #218

Steemac Star Series widebelt sanders from Stefani Group America are calibrating and lacquer/veneer sanding machines with a heightwise adjustable working table and one or two sanding belts. Belt speed of the first unit is 17 m/second, and the speed of the second is 14m/second. Circle #219

Abrasive Engineering & Manufacturing's 600 Series knife planer/sander incorporates a number of features for ease, safety and accuracy of operation, the company says. Models are available in 37- an 52-in. belt widths. Options include two head top or bottom. Circle #220

Jenkins, division of Kohler-General, offers Viet automatic widebelt sanders. Included are: Vietmac PL84-2 for veneer and solid lumber, Vietmac PL84 Kombi with the capabilities of a two-station machine and Hector, for high-gloss finishing applications. Circle #221.

The Model PMC-132-6 flat bed belt sander from Progress Machine features heavy-duty welded construction with leveling bolts. It is powered by a 3-hp/3-ph motor and has a belt speed of 3,800 sfpm. Features include a dust hood with 4-in. outlet, and 6-in. by 36-in. platen with workrest. Circle #222

Bridgewood widebelt sanders from Wilke Machinery are available in single- and double-head models, in 13-, 25- and 37 in. widths to handle workpieces up to 5 7/8-in. thick. Features include: precise belt tension maintained by constant air pressure, safety interlock switches and dust hoods. Circle #223

Macoser Woodworking Machinery offers Tagliabue widebelt sanders for sanding and polishing solid wood, veneer and lacquer. Features include manual or automatic operation and variable belt speed. One to five heads can be selected. Circle #224.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:widebelt sanders
Author:Kuhl, Helen
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Jun 1, 1992
Previous Article:LMA product finder.
Next Article:Market expands for RTA fasteners.

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