June 10/17, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 26
By Ken Ryan
With more than 2,600 patents to its credit and another 5,300 in the pipeline, Välinge Innovation AB continues to burnish its credentials as an R&D company par excellence.
“Innovation is in our DNA,” Lennart Thålin, region manager – North and South America, told FCNews. “Lately we’ve launched a few more groundbreaking innovations.”
Whether it’s the company’s legacy 5G locking system or a new innovation like wood powder technology, Välinge’s objective is to push through any barriers and deliver technological solutions to the market. In many instances, it requires a new way of thinking, Thålin said. Case in point is the company’s wood powder technology—a production and material innovation in which Välinge uses a mix of wood powder that comes from recycled laminate flooring, melamine, aluminum oxide and pigment. “With this powder mix we create two types of flooring: ceramic composite featuring the Nadura surface and hardened wood featuring Woodura surface,” Thålin said. “The former has a ceramic look and feel, and the latter features a wear layer of real wood which is infused with the powder mix and thereby increases the hardness and impact resistance three times compared to the original species.”
According to Thålin, ceramic composite flooring is harder and more scratch resistant compared to normal ceramic or porcelain tiles, but still feels warm and comfortable to walk on due to the wood fiber content. “It also withstands impacts much better and can be installed as a floating floor using our 2G/5G locking system.”
The wood powder technology uses a thinner wood wear layer (0.6mm) that enables production of wider planks at an affordable cost. “You get an automated filling of knots and cracks in the process thanks to the penetration of the powder when heated and compressed in the production cycle,” Thålin explained. “It also withstands impacts much better than similar flooring and can be installed as a floating floor using our 2G/5G locking system.”
Välinge plans to license the wood powder technology as well as set up its own production of flooring.
In recent years Välinge has stepped up its introduction of market innovations, especially as the resilient flooring segment has soared on the strength of LVT, WPC and SPC offerings. The sheer weight of these types of flooring can prove challenging for installers. To remedy this, Välinge created a technology and process called Liteback to remove some of the material from the back without affecting the properties of the floor. By removing material, users can achieve a weight reduction of 15%-20%. As a result, all handling of the product becomes easier and more efficient—from delivery out of the production unit to the time of the purchase and during installation. In addition, the removed material can be recycled, and new flooring can be produced.
How it works: by using a grooving unit, groovers are milled on the backside of the floorboard. The material that is removed in the process is recycled back into the production process, thereby reducing material consumption by up to 20%. Terry Barbree, global director of sourcing, hard surfaces, Shaw Industries, said the company has been using the Välinge locking system for many years. “We appreciate the great technical support and the new features Välinge has brought to the flooring industry. We’re excited to see where the newest innovations like Liteback and powder technology will evolve.”
5G is the well-known Välinge brand for the globally recognized fold-down installation system used by more than 100 flooring companies around the world. The unique feature about this technology is the flexible tongue that enables a much easier and faster installation process. “We have fine-tuned the 5G system so it also works with thin materials (down to 4mm) such as LVT and SPC by using an alternative version of the plastic locking tongue—stepnose—that also makes the installation easier and the locking stronger,” Thålin said.
Anett Nemeth, deputy CEO at Graboplast, a Győr, Hungary-based vinyl flooring manufacturer agreed that the 5G system facilitates and significantly shortens the time of installation, adding, “The prefabricated wood floor with shock absorbing underlay together with 5G fold-down installation system is a perfect match. Our customers like it very much.”