Stiles is breaking new ground with laser tool

todmug_newStiles Machinery recently demonstrated laser-welded edgebanding technology at its corporate facility in Grand Rapids, Mich. More than 200 special guests observed the company's Homag laserTec machine apply the patented two-layer Rehau LaserEdge edgebanding material by activating a color-matched polymer layer on the reverse side of the edgeband and welding it to the carrier board.

This is pretty revolutionary stuff. "The result is a finished edge with superior bond strength and aesthetics, as well as increased heat and moisture resistance," explains Stephan Waltman, Stiles vice president of sales and marketing.

"Imagine not having to worry about glue lines on your workpieces. Consider the bottom line after eliminating the cost of maintaining and replacing glue pots. It's all possible with Homag laserTec."

"With the initial Rehau LaserEdge product introduction in Europe, laser-welded edgebanding technology has generated a tremendous amount of interest among furniture manufacturers who recognize that its adhesive-free process not only provides a higher-quality finish, but also significantly reduces production steps," adds Thomas Troeger, North American business team manager for Rehau's furniture business unit. "We are looking forward to meeting similar demands in the North American market now that this innovative technology is available here."

Stiles announced its first U.S. sale of a Homag laserTec to an unnamed office furniture manufacturer in November and the company seems to be bursting with optimism. "This is an exciting new frontier that we are entering along with this customer," says Waltham. "The technology that Homag has unveiled is truly a game-changer that leapfrogs current state-of-the-art edgebanding."

Stiles says it plans to host another demonstration in early 2011. For information, visit www.stilesmachinery.com and www.na.rehau.com/furniture.

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Spending on remodeling is expected to increase in 2011, following a three-year decline, according to the latest projection issued by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

"A recovering economy should stabilize house prices and consumer confidence levels, encouraging homeowners to reinvest in their homes and undertake deferred repairs and replacements," says Eric Belsky, the center's managing director.

"Low financing costs and a wave of previously foreclosed homes coming back on the market and in need of renovation are expected to generate healthy growth over the next several quarters," says program director Kermit Baker.

For information, visit www.jchs.harvard.edu.

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SmartWood, a Rainforest Alliance program, is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its first foray into sustainability certification. In October 1990, SmartWood issued the first certificate for responsible forest management on a teak plantation on the Indonesian island of Java.

The Rainforest Alliance has since certified 376 forestry operations covering more than 157 million acres and issued more than 3,000 chain-of-custody certificates, which is the process of tracking a product from a responsibly managed forest to the consumer, in 70 countries.

"When I first joined the Rainforest Alliance in 1992, critics said we were crazy to try to certify forests around the globe," says Richard Donovan, vice president of forestry for the Rainforest Alliance. "Convincing companies that they need to track their products back to the forest was, without a doubt, one of the greatest hurdles we faced."

For information, visit www.ra.org.

This article originally appeared in the December 2010 issue.