LIGNA 2019 – Surface Decoration Going Digital

Ron Gilboa
Jun 3, 2019

From May 27th to the 31st over 90,000 visitors from 100 countries descended on the Hannover Messe in Germany to experience firsthand the products and innovations that impact our lives daily. From harvesting forest (timber) products using larger than life equipment to anthropomorphic robot arms manipulating the smallest of parts during construction, LIGNA 2019 had a varied array of displays. Innovation at every stage was present, from ideas to final packed and ready-to-ship products. In the closing press release Deutsche Messe Managing Board member Dr. Andreas Gruchow noted “A total of 1,500 exhibitors from 50 nations presented their impressive solutions for the future, making innovations tangible and easy to grasp for users from every sector of the industry, on a scale unrivaled throughout the world. By focusing on digitization, automation, robotics and revolutionary surface technology applications, LIGNA’s exhibitors played a major role in driving technological advancement. Technologies considered to be visionary at the previous LIGNA have now become reality,”

LIGNA 2019

LIGNA 2019

Though my focus is digital print (to which this blog is dedicated), I would be remiss if I did not mention Industry 4.0 in the context of this event. Woodworking, being a mass production industry, relies heavily on repeatable work processes that yield consistent and predictable output. To that end, it is making use of detailed planning processes and dynamic production tracking. Most manufacturing lines today are designed, tracked, and trained using a concept called Digital Twin – meaning a digital simulation of all tools, functions, and operator activities are planned, tested, and then set in motion in production lines. Once active, these are dynamically monitored using sensors that are used in a feedback loop for production monitoring and improvements. This provides a wide range of improvements, from process stems to operator posture to reduce fatigue, improved productivity and reduced waste. Homag, one of LIGNA’s larger exhibitors, was demonstrating its planning using a Digital Twin process for commissioning production lines.  At LIGNA 2019, Cefle demonstrated similar capabilities that were also tied in with the digital printing solutions.

On the printing front, we saw continued innovations on display from returning suppliers of digital printing solutions, as well as few new suppliers demonstrating equipment.

Aeoon Technologies – A first timer to LIGNA, Aeoon demonstrated its flatbed printer, the Multi, which was configured with water-based inks. This printer is part of a family of machines that range from 3 meter x 1.5 meter to 4.2 meter x 3.75 meter in size and are capable of printing up to 400 m2/hr. The range of applications demonstrated at the show included decor paper, boards, as well as pre-treated glass that was printed using Aeoon water-based inkjet.

Azon Printer – Established in 1991 in Croatia, Azon Printer has been selling products in the sign and display segment. In its debut at LIGNA, the company demonstrated a flatbed printer aimed at two distinct applications: small dimensional printing and a larger flatbed that printed on doors. The Matrix is a flatbed printer with dual Ricoh Gen 5 heads that, at the show, was used to print on a finished door about 5 cm in width. A decor manufacture, Zlomek from  the Czech republic, that happened to be in the booth during our visit exclaimed “We never knew we can produce such custom products.” On hearing from the Azon Printer representative that the Matrix printer was offered at 85,000 euros, he was pleasantly surprised.

Azon Printer Matrix - Door printing

Azon Printer Matrix – Door printing

Barberan – A veteran digital printing player in woodworking as well as packaging, Barberan had on display its newly released textured printing that was developed in partnership with Zeetree from Italy. The full system includes a prep station, pre-coating, digital printing of decor layer, inline inspection system, post coating and curing, followed by digital deposition for creating the textured elements of the board that are in sync with the decor pattern. This creates the look, as well as feel, of natural wood in a man-made process.

Barberan Digital Texturing unit

Barberan Digital Texturing unit

Cefla – Demonstrating its full printing line with decor print, they also showed their texturing technology called myTexture. Cefla, however, like many others has invested in developing tools aimed at providing a full solution to customers. Under the umbrella brand, Ubiqou, the company developed a Digital Twin solution that allows a total production line digital simulation. This simulation, once approved, becomes the blue print for system installation. Once installed, the system can be tracked using sophisticated tools that alert the users on the status of each component on the production line and how these perform. This enables producers to be predictable and conduct predictive maintenance as needed. This solution is part of Cefla’s investment in Industry 4.0 solutions.

EFI – Here for their second LIGNA appearance, EFI made news not only with a technology demonstration of the Cubik S1800, but also with its partnership with Bürkle for the commercialization of the Cubik product lines. As noted on its tagline, Bürkle is a company focused on process technologies, and one of its served industry segments is the woodworking industry, where they are a leader in processing equipment. The company also had solutions for the PCB, plastics, photo voltaic, building, and automotive.

Bürkle had the EFI products on display in its booth where it demonstrated EFI solutions from proofing, printing with UV or with mineral water-based inks, as well as a range of thermoformed samples produced on EFI Vutek solutions.

The Cubik S1800 is based on EFI’s single pass platform and can be configured with pre-treatment, color printing, as well as post print stations. The device operates with up to 70.87 inch (1800 mm) and up to 4.72 inch (120 mm) high board sizes and up to 246.06 ft/min (75 linear m/min) print speed at 360 x 720 dpi resolution.

EFI Cubik Printer at Burkle booth

EFI Cubik Printer at Burkle booth

Hymmen – celebrated its launch of Saturn, a system aimed at decor paper production used in the manufacturing process of impregnated laminates. Taking direct aim at laminates producers, this solution is intended for installation at impregnation facilities  – enabling the just-in-time benefits associated with digital printing technologies. The company invited prospects to view a prototype writing engine and discuss the benefits of this new water-based inkjet solution that was developed in collaboration with Ricoh.
Additionally, the company highlighted its Automatic Color Correction (ACC) solution, which is now available for Jupiter and Saturn products, as well as the Digital Lacquering solution for textured products. Saturn will be starting commercial installation before the end of 2019.

Hymmen Digital Lacquer Embossing

Hymmen Digital Lacquer Embossing

Zeetree – The newly named provider of materials for digital texturing, at the show, the company demonstrated its new solution deployed by Barberan called trueTEXTURE. In this post print process, a printed board coated with a protective UV layer is digitally imaged with jettable etching material that removes a portion of the coating to add a texture to a range of woodworking products – including flooring – which is a challenging application due to durability standards.

Zeetree trueTEXTURE

Zeetree trueTEXTURE

 

LIGNA 2019 did not fail to produce news in the surface technology arena with incoming and existing suppliers meeting the industry needs for quality output and meeting production process and productivity demands. These are meant to address to continued growth in key industry segments, such as flooring and laminates, where decor printing using digital printing with continue to grow for small and large producers alike.

To find out more on our analysts’ thoughts about LIGNA, please listen to our special podcast episode on the show!

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