28/06/2019 FAQ: Finish foils for lamination

In our article, we answer the frequently asked questions on this topic and talk about the quality advantages of modern finish foils, their production methods and perspectives in further processing.

In recent years, our industry has made a real breakthrough in the field of surface refinement. Surface lamination – the application of decorative foils or fleece to wide-format wooden materials such as chipboard, MDF, HDF or plywood – has also undergone major changes. Modern finish foils for lamination differ significantly from their predecessors.

What are the main differences and advantages of modern laminating foils?

Modern production of finish foils as well as contemporary cylinder engraving technology enable highest print quality and maximum imitation of woods. The authenticity of the décor is underlined by synchronous texture – the application of a tactile structure that repeats the printed design image. Modern finish foils are now so similar to real wood that laymen often can not distinguish between a wood veneer and a wood imitation. 

In addition to aesthetic qualities, the technical characteristics of the finish foil have also been improved. The lacquering systems used today provide an increased resistance to external influences – scratches and abrasions. In addition, modern foils are much more easier to manufacture than its predecessors. 

And the equipment isn't lagging behind. The short stroke presses, which do not allow an optimal processing of decors with texture, are replaced by through-feed laminating machines. IMAWELL offers two laminating systems from düspohl with different levels of automation   MultiWrap Wide and PowerWrap Wide. Productions lines with widths of up to 1,400 mm make it possible to laminate the large area of surface including the lower edge.

Which decors are currently in demand?

The most popular decors are those with a textured structure – the effect of Nature Touch. Rustic wood looks particularly advantageous in this solution – for example, our new product, the decor APPENZELL PINE. This is an authentic and warm décor which fits perfectly into the modern interior and bringing a note of wildlife into it. 

In parallel with the popularity of the characteristic decors, we see a shift in the market focus towards more elegant, aged wood and develop new decors in this direction. Regarding the wood types, the oak remains the undisputed leader. An important topic for the furniture industry is the combination of wood decors with solid colours. This can be perfectly realized in the finish foil.

Two types of finish foils are used for surface lamination: post-impregnated and pre-impregnated. What is the principal difference between them, and what quality is better?

The pre-impregnated and post-impregnated foils are primarily distinguished by the sequence of stages of material production. For pre-impregnated foils, the base paper is used, which is already impregnated with resins. It is printed and lacquered in one manufacture step. In the production of post-impregnated foils, first the decor is printed on paper, and in the next step the impregnation of paper with resins and lacquer are taking place. 

Each of these materials has its pros and cons. The post-impregnated finish foils are more resistant to external influences and will provide a high quality surface of the final product. But the multi-stage manufacture process leads to the fact that the foils in this quality are more expensive than the pre-impregnated. For this reason, post-impregnated foils are usually used for interior decoration of the middle price segment and above. 

Due to the printing and lacquer in one final production step, the pre-impregnated foils are not only financially profitable, but also especially clearly convey the structure of wood decors. In addition to the authenticity of the designs, permanent work is being done to improve the surface quality of the pre-impregnated foils, which makes them almost as good as the post-impregnated. Therefore, IMAWELL's range of finishing foils with wood design focuses on the quality of the pre-impregnate, while as a post-impregnate we offer a wide range of solid colours.

What are the main points for a quality finish foil?

In addition to the attractive design and embossing, a quality finish foil has to be tailored to the technical requirements and individual needs of the customer. For example, it has to be easy to manufacture, not to stratify, not to be twisted on the edges, not to stick together in rolls, to have a good opacity. The possibility of gluing mirrors or additional lacquering is particularly important for some customers. In order to ensure a long service life of the furniture product, the finish foils must meet the standards for formaldehyde emissions, light fastness, chemical resistance, scratch and abrasion resistance.

What are the prospects for the use of finish foils for lamination?

The usage of finish foils for laminating the chipboards gives the furniture manufacturer freedom in design and makes it independent of domestic and foreign manufacturers of LDPE. Entrances, children's rooms, living rooms – all of them can be realized according to the unique vision of the furniture manufacturer, which will provide a profitable differentiation of its products in the market. The advantages of using the finishing foil for lamination also includes the possibility of optimizing stock levels: there is no need to purchase chipboards with different decors in large quantities, as the base plate can be used to produce a variety of furniture in individual designs.

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