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While HPL material have outstanding strength, it can nevertheless be damaged if handled or processed improperly. It is therefore important to pay attention to the following aspects:
Storage:The panels must be stored lying flat in order to avoid deformation. This is ensured by stacking on a level support or shelf. Edges should be horizontally stacked, and the entire surface of the top panel should be covered with a protective panel. Especially one should pay attention to dirt between HPL panels and remove them before stacking.
These panels must be stored in enclosed storage areas that comply with standard indoor climatic conditions (18-23 degrees and 50-60% relative humidity).
HPL panels can be processed with standard wood processing tools. However, the high material density causes higher tool wear and will dull tools more rapidly. It is therefore important to keep tools sharp. Processing will otherwise require noticeably greater force and will result in a detectable difference in cut quality and accuracy, along with a greater heat load on cutting edges. We therefore recommend using carbide or diamond-tipped tools and saw blades with change sawtooth or trapezoidal flat-toothed combinations. This keeps your tool sharper longer and facilitates clean cutting.
Saw cutting techniques
Is it not possible to cut the material on a stationary table saw, we recommend at least to use a portable circular saw with guide fence to achieve a straight and clean cut. The cut must be made from the panel underside (blind side) to avoid tearouts on the visible side. If a cut with minimum tearouts on both sides is desired, this can be controlled by modifying the sawblade projection. Tearouts can be minimized on the cutting side by reducing the projection. Underlayer such as plywood, woodchip panels, or HPL have also been shown to reduce tearouts.
However, the best possible cutting surface can only be achieved on stationary table saws that are equipped with a synchronized scoring blade motor. Scoring is accomplished with a second small sawblade that cuts through the bottom layer at risk of tearouts before the actual cut is made. Tearouts are avoided in this area as a result.
It is equally important to avoid vibrations or flutter of the panel material with appropriate clamping devices or sufficient hold down force. Sharp edges and smooth tool rotation are essential for flawless quality. Tearouts, splintering, and other deformations are the result of improper processing or unsuited tools.
Minor fitment work and small cutouts for pipes or other supply lines can be easily made with a jigsaw. In order to minimize tear outs, we recommend using the pendulum setting I with minimal forward and backward motions. Metal saw blades have shown to be a particularly suitable choice of saw blade. These do not dull as quickly and achieve a clean cut due to their many fine teeth.
Saw feed rate
In addition to the tool characteristics and sawing methods, the saw feed rate is an equally important element that influences the cut quality. An excessively fast feed rate will result in increased tearouts. If the feed rate is too slow, this will result in local overheating of the panel material and cause the tools to dull more rapidly. Both issues need to be avoided.
It is therefore important to make some sample cuts to determine the best feed rate. In doing so, it is equally important to note the diameter of the employed tools, and to select the correct rotational speed for these. A higher rotational speed allows a faster cutting speed and more efficient operations.
HSS (High Speed Steel) drills have proven themselves for drilling into HPL products. In particular, it is important to use a drill tip with a 60-80° cutting lip angle. In order to avoid unnecessary tearouts, it is important to observe the correct penetration speed. Due to the hardness of the material, we recommended to drill cautiously with a low feed rate. Additional tearouts caused by the exiting drill can be avoided by a underlayer (e.g. woodchip panel, plywood) or by pressing against a wooden block.
For blind hole drilling, the hole depth should be executed that at least 1.5 mm of panel thickness (a) remains. When drilling parallel to the panel level, the residual thickness (b) must be at least 3 mm.
In order to ensure occupational safety, we recommend wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Safety gloves: Handling unchamfered HPL products represents an injury hazard. We therefore recommend wearing appropriate gloves as protection against cuts and to provide additional grip to prevent slipping.
- - Safety glasses: Splinter and dust particle which accrue by cutting HPL are hazardous for the eyes. Wear safety glasses as protection against eye injuries.
- - Ear protection: Due to the density of HPL material, the noise level can quickly rise over 80 dB(A) during processing. In order to avoid hearing damage, we recommend wearing ear protection, especially during extended noise exposure.
- - Dust protection: Any cutting device should be equipped with an appropriate dust collector. This will prevent hazardous dust exposure for respiratory system and eyes, and facilitates a clear view on the marked cutting line. If this is not possible we recommend at least wearing a fine dust mask.
Do you have additional specific questions for processing HPL?