How a dream came true

10 November 2005

Close to 150 delegates attended the International 3-D Symposium, organized by Heinrich Wemhöner GmbH & Co KG of Herford to present and discuss the latest in 3-D technology and its many and varied applications.
As a well-known manufacturer of presses for flat and 3-D lamination of panels under its Wemhöner Pressen banner, the company has held a number of such symposia in recent years, but one of the things which made this event special was the venue.
The MARTA Museum in the centre of Herford was constructed around a disused textile mill which was the subject of a preservation order by the local authority. That building is preserved in the heart of the new museum. The forms employed by the architect Frank Gehry for the new part of the ❅28m building certainly give it a unique appearance and as a prime mover behind the planning and execution of this major project, Heiner  emhöner was especially pleased to host the symposium in this venue.
“For me this is a dream come true, to hold this event here, as a particularly appropriate link between this museum and the furniture industry,said the chief executive.
Welcoming the delegates, Dr Hannes Frank, director of adhesive maker Jowat and president of the chamber of commerce of IHK Lippe zu Detmold, emphasised the importance of North Rhein-Westphalia as the centre of the German furniture industry.
He also announced the establishment of the Wemhöner Award for young furniture designers.
Wemhöner is also one of the commercial partners, together with Jowat and Scheider Möbel, in establishing a professorial chair for wood technology at the Lippe and Höxter Fachhochschule for three years. It is specified that the appointed professor “should seek close cooperation with the relevant companies active in the region”.
The keynote speaker at the 3-D Symposium was professor Dr Dieter Spath of the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering in Stuttgart.
Dr Spath extolled the virtues of innovation and emphasised the difference between innovation and invention, saying that innovation is something new which has been implemented in the market, while invention is the creation of something new.
“We are supporting a broad innovation initiative and a wide-ranging innovation offensive,he said.
“Our [Germany’s] competitiveness is under pressure and we have to understand that our labour rate difference is too large when compared with the Ukraine for example.We must continue to rationalise, to nurture brands [like BMW and Mercedes] and focus on new technologies and innovations. We need to re-establish innovation as a German strength. Technology push and market pull must work closely together.”
The first speaker, Dr Tilo Pfeifer, said: “Germany is the world leader in registering patents, but 85%-95% of all developments don’t reach the market. The trigger for innovation is normally finding solutions for problems you have experienced but the mistake is to look at problems rather than their causes. Improving one element does not necessarily improve the whole chain, but Innovation Process Optimisation (IPO) is a holistic approach which treats the chain as one.”
Dr Pfeifer espoused the DMAIC cycle – Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control – as a means of improving innovation potential.
Peter Wippermann, Office of Trends, Hamburg, then told the furniture industry to “Innovate or die!”. He predicted a return to more ornamentation in furniture and interior design.
Professor Dr Udo Koppelmann cautioned against over-complication, pointing out that many drivers of modern cars do not even know what their car is capable of.
“You must analyse whether a development is perceived as an advantage,he said.
“The bait must be palatable to the fish, not the angler!”.
Session ll, ‘Understanding design as a chance’ began with the design awards (see box text).
Then came Andrej Kupertz, chairman of the German Design Council.
“I don’t see 3-D technology as ‘mature’.
Design in your industry is something that can be merged with your very good technology,he said.
He identified three long-term trends: access to future opportunities, smart simplification and personalisation using digital technology.
Professor Dr André Wagenführ of the University of Dresden looked at the use of real wood veneer in 3-D forming and at sandwich panels with veneer faces for light weight.
Klaus Monhoff of panel maker Egger said: “You must oppose the appeal of greed with a stronger appeal of design.He said that a mix of styles was very important, such as the interaction of wood and metal and different styles within a kitchen for example. “The two mega-trends are individuality and wellness,he said.
Another Egger man, Manfred Riepertinger, outlined the essential qualities for a 3-D mouldable MDF panel in terms of smooth moulded surfaces and stability and suggested that Egger’s Formline E1 MDF-MB membrane pressing quality board had all the required characteristics.
Professor Dr Adrian Riegel of FH Lippe and Höxter, Lemgo, looked at the technology of shape cutting in MDF for 3-D applications. He distinguished between roughness and waviness of the surface, pointing out that waviness was more of a problem as it telegraphs through surface coverings.
Dr Heinz Werner Lucas of Bayer looked at innovation in adhesives for 3-D applications,
saying that “Only knowledge of the capabilities and needs of the other partners in the value creation chain will result in constant high quality and in the development of exciting new business opportunities.”
Dr Christian Terfloth of adhesive supplier Jowat asked: “New adhesives – do they keep their promises?He answered his own question by saying that “Jowat’s onecomponent and reactive polyurethane dispersions for 3-D lamination are surely examples of truly innovative adhesives which do keep their promises.
Dr Günther Deiringer of Klöckner Pentaplast looked at the alternative types of 3-D films such as PVC versus PET. He concluded that PVC is the best product currently available, while the progress of PET will be related to cost reduction through alternative raw material technology.
Andrea Luca of Italian machinery maker Cefla reviewed his company’s glue spray application technology.
Detlef Hanel of host company Heinrich Wemhöner presented a Variopress line capable of producing 80,000 pieces of 3-D furniture elements per week on a fully automated line from raw component to packaged end product. He used BLP UK’s line as an example, saying it had the capacity to have 24 or more kitchen door elements per tray and offered flexibility and high capacity.
Further presentations covered actual applications of 3-D laminating, membrane type, data management in production, sustainability of manufacturing processes in an ecological sense, and scenario management.
The last mentioned topic was presented by Andreas Siebe of Scenario Management International AG, Paderborn. He concluded with an appeal to the assembled delegates to look ahead: “If you don’t think about the future, you cannot have one.”


Dieter Spath
Hannes Frank
Heiner Wemhöner