by Craig Thomas
Tips for 3D laminating
Key things you should consider when purchasing
or pressing 3D parts.
For decades, 3D Laminated (3DL) products were primarily used in the kitchen and bath in- dustry. In recent years, however,
as the acceptance of vinyl pressed parts
has improved with the introduction of new
equipment and practices, there has been a
resurgence in interest in 3D lamination.
As more companies consider investments in 3DL pressing, it is imperative
they perform due diligence in the selection of equipment and raw materials.
The good news is that resources exist to
achieve high quality, beautiful 3D parts
that offer many years of performance.
The key is navigating through the variety
of claims to make an informed decision.
When looking at pressing equipment it is
very important to understand the capa-
bilities of available technology. Two main
types of equipment exist: membrane
(positive pressure) presses and vacuum
The points below outline general
differences between the two types of
presses. It’s useful to remember that
choosing a $50,000 vacuum press over
a $250,000+ positive pressure press will
likely have quality ramifications.
So, the technology you choose should
be based on the market you are serving
and the quality expectations of your
targeted customer base.
Vacuum presses use radiant heat,
usually light bulbs, which can mean
inconsistent heat transfer with hot and
They are not recommended for high
gloss foils or intricate parts. The vacuum
draws only from the bottom of the table
with a maximum pressure of 1 Bar, as-
suming no vacuum leaks.
Speed of evacuation is imperative for
edge heat activation. Vacuum presses
are best for lower volume applications,
and they cannot draw vacuum through
melamine backed parts. Typical cost
ranges from $25,000 to $65,000.
Membrane presses use a heated
platen for more consistent heat and heat
transfer, as well as repeatability. The
vacuum works from the bottom of the
table and produces positive pressure
from the top of up to 6 Bar.
A multi-frame can be added for
consistent preheating. Membrane presses
work best for high-volume production
Increasingly sophisticated in the kinds of products and materials available, 3D laminating and pressing is growing in popularity.