The most common method for producing engineered wood flooring involves bonding a thin veneer/lamella of wood to a thicker substrate or core which is normally plywood. Adhesive is applied to the plywood and the veneer are placed on top of the plywood and pressure is applied to bond the components together. In the case of Engineered Wood Flooring, the substrate is normally plywood of a fixed length (between 4 - 8 ft) and the veneer is random in length (between 2-10 ft).
A common method used to manufacture flooring requires applying an adhesive to the top of the plywood and then crowding the plywood together end to end on a continuously moving conveyor. Random length veneers are then placed manually or mechanically on top of the plywood end to end and fed through a press to bond the plywood to the veneer. A subsequent sawing operation is used to cut on the veneer joints, resulting in random length engineered flooring. The random length components are then further processed to machining on all 4 edges, end matching and side matching.
It is very important that the top veneer joints are not near the bottom plywood joints. This ensures a strong bond and solid end joints during the subsequent laminating and machining processes (end matching and side matching). Using the manual lay-up method, feed speeds make it is difficult for the operator to not only identify the plywood butt joints, but as well, to select proper veneer lengths so that the veneer joints do not come into close proximity with the plywood joints.
Summary of the RVF 75R
The RVF 75R, Random Length Veneer Feeder provides an automatic method to place random veneer lengths onto a continuously running plywood core such that the veneer joints do not line up closely to the plywood joints. The innovation uses a robot fitted with a vacuum arm that selects the veneer and then places it precisely (end to end) onto the plywood core. The veneers are sorted by length and stored in hopper bins, for example: bin #1 may have veneers that are 2 – 3 ft long, bin #2 has veneers 3 – 5 ft long, etc. A vision system on the conveyor identifies plywood joint locations and tracks the joints as they move down the conveyor. The vision system relays information to the Robot as to which bin to pick the veneer from so that the veneer joints will not be in the same proximity as the plywood joints.
Enhanced Production through Robotic Automation
To remain competitive in the engineered flooring industry, there is a need to increase production, reduce labor and maintain consistent, quality product. The RVF 75R, Random Length Veneer Feeder, will eliminate labor, increase yield and will provide the manufacturer with a consistent, high quality product. The investment can be recovered in one year or less when running 3 shifts. This automated system eliminates material waste and inconsistent product quality from joint failure when end-matching.