Kleiberit Adhesives says it is now the number two supplier in the world market for PUR (polyurethane) ‘Hotmelt’ products since the company owner, Klaus Becker-Weimann, began concentrating on this sector in the early 1980s.

M G Becker GmbH & Co KG (Kleiberit), was founded in 1948 in Ingolstadt, moving to its current location in Weingarten in 1961, and it is still a family-owned company, run by Klaus Becker-Weimann.

"This means that decisions are made quickly and we can respond quickly to the market," said marketing and communication manager Peter W Mansky.

Today, Kleiberit employs 450 people worldwide and produces 40,000 tons of adhesives per year, 75% of which is exported.

The products include PUR Hotmelt adhesives, Hotmelt based on PVAC, EVA, acrylate and PUR, one- and two-component PUR adhesives, epoxy resins, as well as foams and sealants.

The company also has a network of 70 sales engineers worldwide who are highly skilled in technical and chemical issues, as well as in sales.

Since its foundation, the company has continued to expand internationally, setting up subsidiaries all over the world. The latest addition, in 2013, was Belarus.

"We guarantee two days from placing of an order to delivery within Europe, from our warehouse hub here in Weingarten," said Mr Mansky. "All development and production of adhesive products is also carried out here in Germany."

For the development of new products, Kleiberit engineers work alongside the customer, helping to find new solutions to meet their requirements, he added.

"Our strengths are innovative research and development (R&D) by highly qualified staff; modern production techniques; and good quality-management," said Mr Mansky.

Markets for Kleiberit range from the furniture and automotive industry to filters, sandwich elements, the building and construction industry, textile industry, paper and packaging, to book binding.

A growing market, perhaps unsurprisingly, is in adhesives for sandwich panel construction, reflecting the growing market for both lightweight and wellinsulated panels.

Part of the strict quality control required for all Kleiberit’s products is the requirement to renew its certificates in all the different products and global markets in which Kleiberit trades, so the company has to have a close relationship with all the relevant standards institutes.

‘HotCoating’ innovation
A major breakthrough for Kleiberit was launched at the Ligna exhibition in 2011 in Hannover, when it presented its ‘HotCoating’ technology to the world in the form of a very high-gloss finish.

The company had been developing the products with customers for about 10 years prior to this, but Ligna 2011 was the big promotion.

"Just before that Ligna edition, we sent out hundreds of thousands of small particleboard samples which had been hot-coated with a high-gloss finish and we promised to show them how it was done at our booth," said Mr Mansky. "We had a hot-coating line on the booth and demonstrated the process very successfully, even in such a dusty atmosphere. One new customer was so impressed that he bought the actual development machine at the show!"

Rainer Kampwerth, sales manager for surface treatment products, joined Kleiberit in 2011 having spent the last 20 years in the industrial coatings industry, including direct printing of thin MDF for furniture panels.

"Since that Ligna exhibition in 2011, I have been promoting our process in Europe, then South America and now Asia and it has been a huge success," said Mr Kampwerth. We are working with Barberán of Spain, which supplies the PUR HotCoating machinery, and together we have supplied more than 25 HotCoating lines worldwide. They are installed and now going into production."

To give some background to this success, Mr Kampwerth said that in his previous job, he had a number of customers who were looking at high-gloss finishes applied to their existing melamine surfaces, but standard industrial coatings just did not work.

Some panel producers were creating highgloss surfaces using polished press plates, or by spraying and polishing the panels, but these systems were not successful, according to Mr Kampwerth.

"Kleiberit had successfully developed its system when I joined the company and I immediately contacted [the panel maker] Kastamonu in Turkey and after a lot of tests the management there agreed to invest in a complete line and have now been producing very good high-gloss boards since mid-2012," said the sales manager.

"Kastamonu is upgrading its standard melamine faced particleboard and MDF with our high-gloss technology and has branded the products ‘GlossMax’. The line is 2.4m wide and 120m long."

Mr Kampwerth said that the process of coating on melamine faced boards has been known for a long time, but had always required a chemical primer and an intermediate sanding process.

"The problem with that system is that, over time, the primer hardens in a chemical reaction and many boards lose adhesion – this happened between two months and two years in our comparison tests.

"The Kleiberit PUR HotCoating system, on the other hand, we have tested and found to give adhesion for a minimum of 10 years, with no primer involved at all."

The Kleiberit high-gloss surface is highly flexible and can be demonstrated not to crack or lift, even with impact damage. It can also be re-polished to remove any micro-scratches that may occur through heavy use, such as on kitchen cabinet doors. That flexibility also means it does not chip during drilling or edge-machining; and it can be directly post-formed to make a product known as ‘DesignEdge’.

"We are just starting up a huge, 2.4mwide, line for Duratex in Brazil, close to São Paulo, and another 2.4m line will be installed in a Russian panel maker’s factory," said Mr Kampwerth. "Closer to home there is a 1.4mwide line at AV Design Group, near Hannover, to coat 8 x 4ft [2.44 x 1.22m] panels for kitchen cabinet manufacture. That line started production in May 2013."

Another advantage claimed for the Kleiberit system is that it is totally solvent free.

"We have achieved up to 100 Gloss Units and guarantee over 90 Gloss Units," said Mr Kampwerth. "We also guarantee long-term adhesion and scratch resistance – even to abrasion with steel wool."

In addition to its application in high-gloss wood based panels, Kleiberit has also found that its HotCoating has excellent adhesion on high pressure laminate (HPL) and the company is currently working with a customer on the supply of exterior HPL façade panels with high-gloss finish.

"The flooring market also has huge potential for us, with HotCoating as a scratch-resistant layer, as a kind of laminate flooring – and it can be embossed to produce a wood-grain feel," said Mr Kampwerth. "We can also produce up to AC5 – the highest abrasion standard – by introducing corundum into the coating."

The thought is that, coupled with the Kleiberit HotCoating’s flexibility, this gives the laminate flooring business a product with which to fight the threat of the upcoming trend for Luxury Vinyl Tiles, better known as LVT.

One obvious question to ask Mr Kampwerth is whether the trend to high-gloss furniture surfaces is just that – a trend that will soon pass, or is it here to stay?

"Due to our industrial adhesives business, we are in touch with many large furniture and kitchen cabinet manufacturers," he said.

"None expect a big drop in demand for high-gloss in the near future and high-gloss is always popular somewhere in the world."