Today’s increasingly complex furniture and woodworking production techniques demand more advanced, specialised manufacturing products and accessories. Adhesives, their quality and development, play a key role, as INpress, one of the UK’s leading designers and contract manufacturers of wood based panel components, will testify.

INpress, part of the Hammonds furniture group, was founded two years ago and has its own 28,000ft2 plant at Hinckley, Leicestershire.

The company places a strong emphasis on bespoke panel production. It has also been keen to explore the technology of membrane pressing, a factor that is helping it win an increasing number of customers in an extending range of market activities. One of the key factors is the quality and adaptability of the adhesives it uses.

Graham Case, INpress’s technical manager, says: “We can press on plastics, we can press on heavily profiled panels. We can press thick panels or thin panels. Caswell’s adhesive is seen as the tool with which we can get over problems.”

Caswell is among the UK’s leading adhesives producers. Originally involved with the footwear industry, it has become – thanks to a modern manufacturing plant at Corby and a strong emphasis on research and development – a major provider in a number of sectors, particularly furniture and woodworking.

INpress produces components with unusually complex profiles, panels with raised profiles provided by styrene strips, wrapping 0.2mm thick PVC around 25mm thick MDF, scanning pictures and effects from the computer on to a white PVC which helps provide panels that appear, at first sight, to be made from frosted glass.

Despite making the most of membrane pressing technology, the company prefers that its production processes be kept as simple as possible, so it’s been pleased that Caswell has continued to supply a single-component, water-based adhesive, one that meets all eventualities.

Smooth production

&#8220Caswell has made life a lot easier in regard to stacking, cleanliness and curing time”

Graham Case, INpress technical manager

Coating styrene effectively is not an easy proposition. Caswell reformulated the adhesive then being used to ensure that production continued smoothly. The previous Caswell adhesive already provided a number of advantageous characteristics for INpress. For instance, only a single coat is required to seal the edges of MDF and provide a fully-adequate, smooth glue line. Other adhesives, INpress discovered, often required two coats.

Different depths of profile mean different levels of temperature when a laid-up panel is pressed. Deep-routed profiles are also closer to the centre of an MDF board, usually its most porous part; it’s also the last area to be affected by the pressing process. At the same time, routed edges tend to remain cooler than other areas. Caswell researched membrane pressing technology to ensure that one adhesive would be versatile enough to meet all demands.

Spraying equipment

The company also worked closely with Eurospray, INpress’s supplier of spraying equipment, to ensure its adhesive provided lower film weight and higher viscosity, with minimal overspray, combining greater effectiveness with lower material costs.

“We spark off each other,” says Graham Case. “We know we can discuss technical matters with Caswell’s representatives. It makes a tremendous difference, especially when your own company is advancing its own technological boundaries. Elsewhere we have had reps come here who have little or no technical knowledge. They might as well be selling bread!

“Caswell has made life a lot easier, especially in regard to stacking, cleanliness and curing time.”

The adhesive has also made life easier for the spraying operatives. One difficulty that can occur with adhesive spraying is the occurence of ‘orange peel’. Caswell’s adhesive needs to be “abused” before it begins to demonstrate any problem of this nature.

Caswell’s sales and marketing manager Chris Neal says: “INpress’s needs have changed considerably since we first supplied it with a membrane pressing adhesive. But we are one of the few adhesives companies still prepared to modify a product to suit a customer’s specific requirements.”