It is not always good to get what you expect, especially when your expectations were low, but the IWF show did meet the expectations of the exhibitors; they expected fewer visitors and that’s what they got.
There were also only two halls this year, compared with three in 2008, and there were quite large empty spaces in those two.
However, most said that the exhibitors were ‘quality contacts’ and that they had been involved in some interesting discussions.
Apart from the US and Canada, some visitors also came from South America, with a few from other regions, too.
The number of Chinese machinery makers exhibiting in Atlanta has steadily increased over recent shows as they seek to export more of their production.
Kings Mountain had a prominent booth in Hall A, which was also the location of a good number of panel makers.
The company is supplying its press plates to Turkey, South Korea and South America as well as having a strong presence in North America. It also specialises in what Don Jones called synchro-registration for textured plates.
Also in Hall A, by choice, was complete line supplier Dieffenbacher. Sales manager Cole Martin, from the company’s Atlanta office, said there had been a lot of interest in the  fibre insulation board lines offered by the company, offering an alternative to fibreglass which allows house walls and roofs to breathe.
Hueck Rheinische from Germany promoted its stainless steel or brass chemically etched press plates for LPL and HPL.
Most of the machinery makers were in Hall B, with US offices of overseas companies intermingled with homegrown American ones.
Among the former was Flamex, who reported good traffic through their well-placed booth. New at the show was the infra-red hot particle detector which detects down to 350oC, even in ambient light. Also new was the flame detector, which detects three wavelengths of infra-red and is designed for use in open areas. It was Factory Mutual approved this year.
Super Thin Saws Inc of Waterbury, VT, offered its circular saw blades, which it claims are stiffer than the competition while being 10-20% thinner and therefore offering less sawdust waste, said president John S Schultz.
Sweed machinery of Gold Hill, Oregon, was promoting its signature strapping chopper to deal with that dangerous steel and plastic strapping waste. It was also showing its new pack turners and its established range of veneer dryer feeding and outfeed systems.
Merritt Machinery of Lockport, New York, demonstrated the new wide-belt sander produced by Meinan of Japan whom it represents in North America, as well as its own brand new Merritt FlitchPrep. “This is the first machine to automatically clean flitches prior to slicing – it always used to be a manual process,said president Anna McCann. “The Meinan sander was a finalist in the IWF Challengers Award,she added proudly.
Andy Clarke of Clarke’s International, Eugene, Oregon, reported that sales had picked up in recent months, mainly in its spark detection and safety valve equipment.
Willamette Valley Company, also of Eugene, said it is the biggest producer of polyurethane patching for plywood, worldwide. It also offers wood putty.
“We specialise in products to enhance the finished product, be it lumber, plywood, OSB or engineered wood,said vice president Tony Vuksich. “We offer end-sealing paint for OSB and primers for mouldings, including MDF, and all application equipment, including robotics. We have a truly global market.”
Ashland Hercules Water Technologies of Wilmington, Detroit, offers both water treatment systems and soy-based adhesives for interior use under the name of Soyad. The adhesives are a combination of a soy base and a cross-linking resin and, says the company, contain no formaldehyde and low VOCs. Another division of Ashland makes MDI resins.
Arclin took a room above Hall A to discuss its range of low-emission resins and its overlays. “We are continuing to push product development and innovation and are also reaching downstream more, to designers and architects, to create transparency for them as to what makes a panel overlay ‘green’ – what imparts that ‘green’ characteristic,said director Kevin Griffin.
All Arclin’s decorative overlays have FSC Greenguard certification, including the ‘children & schools’ certification.
To deal with the problem of formaldehyde contained within recycled wood products used in panel manufacture, Arclin offers E-Gen ESorb resins which scavenge formaldehyde, explained Mr Griffin.
Leitz Tooling Systems of Grand Rapids Michigan (although a German-headquartered company) was the proud winner of the ‘Challengers Award’ for its RipTee cutting system. The company offers cutting tools to all levels of the market and has regional offices throughout the US – and the world.
Daniel James of Vits Technology of Germany reported an order for a phenol impregnation line for Formica St Jean, Canada, to be delivered in December. “This line involves totally new impregnating technology which we developed with Formica,said Mr James. “It could revolutionise the way we make HPL today.The company has achieved several orders this year, which should keep its factory busy for some time, he added.
Biele of Spain has had a representative office in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for a year and has already had several projects for its handling and pressing lines, mainly in door manufacture in the US so far.
Complete line supplier Siempelkamp of Germany has its US office in Marietta, Georgia. Joachim Meier said the company had a few upgrade jobs coming through in North America after a quiet period and that upgrades were the main point of discussion at the show this year.
Electronic Wood Systems Int of Beaverton, Oregon represents this Hameln, Germany headquartered company and Keith Mays said he had picked up some good leads at the show which he might not otherwise have got. The mills are interested in EWS’ quality control equipment as they are looking for efficiency improvements, he said.
Austrian panel saw maker Schelling has an alliance in the US with IMA to offer total solutions in sawing, edge-banding, drilling and so on. The companies share offices in North Carolina.
GreCon Inc of Portland Oregon is the US arm of this German company. Stephan Zimmerman reported the first references for the Dieffensor foreign-body detector in North America, as well as sales of quality control and spark detection equipment.
Fezer of Brazil reported improving business in Brazil as well as Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina and Chile, with a good order book this year, mainly for its plywood production equipment.
Giben America Inc of Norcross, Georgia, showed a new line of edge-banders and CNC machines as well as its panel saw lines. All products are made at the Italian headquarters.
Energy plant supplier Vyncke of Belgium works with Ebner of Wadsworth Ohio in the North American market. Ebner makes industrial heat treatment systems.
Modul Systeme of Germany, the supplier of used and new machinery, which recently sold 50% of its shares to Andritz of Austria, reported a big project underway dismantling the Great Lakes MDF plant for shipment to, and rebuilding in, Colombia. Managing director Hans-Joachim Binder reported several other contracts worldwide too.
Stefano Benedetti of Imal Pal, Italy, reported interest from clients in central and South, as well as North, America and was promoting the new Dynaformer, Dynastream and Dynapress for continuous panel production lines.
Limab North America Inc of North Carolina, headquartered in Sweden, offered its laser-based PanelProfiler board thickness measurement system.
An agency company, European Woodworking machinery, represents German panel saw maker Anthon and Brazilian plywood machinery maker Omeco, among others, in North America.
Finding companies at the IWF was not as easy as at some shows. Other exhibitions, such as Ligna in Germany, have panel making machinery suppliers together in one hall and general woodworking in another, but at IWF there was no discernible logic to the layout, with suppliers of items such as handles and drawer runners alongside makers of heavy woodworking/panel making machinery.
Overall, the exhibitors I spoke to seemed pleased with the show, albeit in the light of a poor and hesitant US market, although Canada has not suffered too badly from the downturn in comparison.