Lemark: Sanding in industrial HPL production

The harder High Pressure Laminates get, the better they are. Therefore the performance requirements for industrial sanding machines used in processing HPL are exceptionally high. That’s why plant designers often count on heavy-duty sanding solutions from Swiss Company Kündig.

One could almost mistake Russian laminate maker Lenmark (founded 2010) as a startup company and managing director Boris Gostev as a young entrepreneur. This would be quite inaccurate though as Gostev is highly experienced: “Our long term goal is to develop a product that is competitive on the international market”, he envisions. The company in Solnechnogorsk (Region Moscow) produces High Pressure Laminates with very modern facilities and environmental technology and grows steadily. Only recently a third pressing line has been put into operation for production of big format laminate panels. Gostevs experience with the European market stems from his time at an Austrian company, he tells us: “I can assess the quality requirements for markets like Europe pretty well, I’d say.” That’s also the reason why an Italian plant designer conceptualised the very first production line of the factory that has been started from scratch.

State of the art technology

“The concept our plant designer came up with was in fact very modern with state of the art processes and technology. Base materials like decor paper come from Germany, where they are custom produced for us, tuned to the Russian market’s contemporary taste.” The production meets the latest environmental standards which is not self-evident in Russia - the chemicals used for impregnating are being handled in closed cycles and emitted solvents are being removed from the air by high end filter systems. But the machinery around the pressing lines is cutting-edge too. According to Gostev, one of the most relevant production steps is the sanding machine: “the sander processes the raw HPL-Panel into a useable product. The back of the panels are raw and bumpy after pressing. The sanding flattens these surfaces, creating a constant thickness that roughens the panels to enable glueing with carriers like plywood boards.” The Italian plant designer chose a Kündig precision sanding machine: “This machine has proven very effective in our first small production line. That’s why we opted for Kündig again when building our production line for large format panels - this time with a working width of 1600 mm.”

Bottom-sanding for quality control

Production- and quality control manager Alexander Shishkin describes the production process in depth: “The production of laminates begins with decor- and carrier paper, that we obtain from a special supplier. These paper rolls weighing approximately a ton go through an impregnating line where the kraft paper is soaked with phenolic resin and the decor paper with melanin-formaldehyde resin.” The prepared papers are then compiled into multi layer packets. Quantity and grammage determine the thickness of the finished laminate panel. The enormous presses are then loaded with about eight packets: “the pressing power determines the quality of the end product”, says Shishkin: “The more pressure, the more resistant the panels get,. If the pressure is too high though, the material could splinter. High-grade panels are being pressed with up to 90 bar at temperatures higher than 120° C.” The backsides of the laminate panels are raw and uneven: “That’s why it’s particularly important to sand these surfaces in order to even them out and achieve consistent thickness.” The problem is the hardness of those pressed laminates: “Saw blades are becoming blunt quite fast when cutting compact panels for example. One can only imagine how these sanding machines need to perform”, Shishkin stresses. The Kündig Technic Botex 1600-R sands from below: “This makes quality control of the decorative side much easier for our employees.”

Customer bespoke heavy duty machine

The performance of the Kündig Technic machines is excellent: “ we can easily operate at feed speeds of 30 metres per minute. The sander is powerful and fast and there is still potential to keep up with production expansion.” HPL doesn’t seem to be much of a problem for the Swiss sander: “The Kündig sands approximately 1000 panels per shift with ease.” Thanks to its modular concept, the Kündig Technic series of machines is customisable to all kinds of purposes. Drive power, working width, sanding techniques and automations can be matched exactly to the purpose the machine is being used for.

Very content

They are very content with their Kündig Sanders, managing director Gostev stated: “Otherwise we wouldn’t have chosen to go with Kündig again. The large format pressing line now has the highest output of them all, thanks to the efficient Kündig with 1600 mm working width.” They chose these machines for their high sanding quality and reliability despite them not being the cheapest option on the market. “As a comparably young company we are already very successful and the Kündig sanders are definitely one of the reasons for our success…”

Kundig HPL laminate wide belt sanding machine

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