Manufacturers working with rolled metal, aluminium and other materials for fabrication are looking for ways to make their product attractive. An obvious way to do this is by bonding a decorative foil or a laminate to the substrate. To achieve a decorative finish a laminate film can be used, creating the appearance of stainless steel and brushed copper. These films are ideal as they can create a gloss finish and have the bonus of being scratch and chemical resistant.
What are laminates?
A laminate is made up of layers of varied materials, a composite. Unlike other composites, the materials must be bonded together. With an adhesive material such as metal bonding adhesives so they stay in place.
Problems with laminates in manufacturing
Laminating is problematic, with a high failure rate resulting in scrappage. Problems occur with bonding when the wrong adhesive has been used or the curing process has been mismanaged. Adhesives often have to be customised with unique formulations minimising errors and reducing scrappage.
What are the options?
Many manufacturers are using laminated flat-rolled metal for applications including home appliances such as washing machines and fridges as well as construction such as insulated wall panels. Applying the laminates to the coiled rolls or sheets can be done in several ways. Personnel can be employed to spray or apply metal bonding adhesives such as http://www.ct1ltd.com/ by hand. Automated equipment can be used where pre-applied adhesive from a coil processor is used with flat-rolled metals. The adhesive will cure at a specific temperature. The laminate is applied to the coil using rollers. Unfortunately, although faster, automation still results in scrappage of up to 20%.
Adhesives applied in a coil coating tend to be consistent and have higher success rates, ensuring less scrappage and a more durable bond. The quality of the lamination means that any bending and shaping that occurs post-lamination will maintain the integrity of the bond. While the use of coil processors tightens the application process, the adhesive used will affect the durability. Often the adhesive needs to be customised depending on the requirements and manufacturers should consider reformulation to make a product work.
Manufacturers have been successfully using coil rolled steel with pre-applied adhesive to overcome problems with laminates. Door manufacturers have noticed huge improvements and less scrappage using laminated coils.