L ightweight panel
tech nology set to take off
These panels strive for high mechanical
properties with much lower weight.
by Urs Buehlmann, Virginia Tech
Lightweight panel materials are in
high demand among ready-to-as-semble furniture manufacturers
and are gaining more converts in
other segments of the wood products
industry on a daily basis.
Innovations in the area of manufacturing, edgebanding and fastening
of lightweight panels have created vast
opportunities for companies to create
special designs while controlling costs
and weight. Lightweight is not only
an environmentally smart choice,
but also means lower material and
A variety of lightweight panels
are available. The most widely used
lightweight panels are made of a paper-based honeycomb material sandwiched
between two thin particleboard or MDF
panels. Lightweight panels, defined as
panels lighter than 500 kg/m3, strive
for high mechanical properties similar
to particleboard or MDF combined with
much lower weight, an aspiration that
has been met with the new lightweight
panel products on the market today.
Despite their light weight and hollow
cores, lightweight panels can largely be
processed on standard
WEB equipment using
For an in-depth article
fdmonli ne.comon light weight panels
standard processes. While special fasteners are needed, they can be inserted and
processed using standard equipment.
Lightweight technology does enable
manufacturers to offer their customers
new designs. It also allows manufacturers to go after new markets.
Many industry experts agree that
lightweight panels could
be the next big thing.
Inc., will be offering
a two-day lightweight
panel symposium featuring
materials, processing and design specialists
in lightweight panel technology in Grand
Rapids, Mich., Nov. 17 and 18, (first sym-
posium) and Nov. 19 and 21, 2008 (second
symposium, repeat of first symposium).
The first day will provide general
information and enable attendees to
learn about providers of lightweight panel
products. Martin Stosch, a lightweight
panel expert from Germany, with other
speakers, will give in-depth information about lightweight panel materials
and technologies, including panel types,
processing technology, hardware and
fasteners, and consumer preferences.
Their presentations will be backed by
take-home documentation covering all
Besides promises of lower costs (not
restricted to raw materials, but including transportation, manufacturing and
installation costs) they bring new freedom to the design and engineering of
wood products. Lightweight panels use
less materials and energy to make and
transport, and making them a green
product can only help with their appeal
for consumers and producers. ●
aspects of lightweight panels as a tool for
further learning and reference. VT and
FDM and CabinetMaker magazines will
also present details about their “
Lightweight Panels in North America” survey.
Lightweight panel technology, equipment
and hardware suppliers will be present to
answer any questions.
A second day will be spent experiencing lightweight panel technology
hands-on on the shop floor, making,
formatting, edgebanding, assembling
and finishing lightweight panel products.
The hands-on technology setup will
include a lightweight panel line, a
panel saw, edgebanding technology for
lightweight panels, as well as hardware
insertion and assembly, and will be held
in cooperation with Stiles Machinery.
Experts from all areas of lightweight
panel technology will again be available
to interact with symposium attendees.
For further questions and registration
visit: www.woodscience.vt.edu/thin-klight, or email email@example.com
or call 540.231.7107.