The Association for Laminating in the New Millennium

LMA: The Association for Laminating in the New Millennium


The Laminating Materials Association (LMA) is a not-for-profit trade group that represents all types of manmade decorative overlays in North America. In addition, the LMA is the representative organization for all edge-banding in the United States and Canada. The products represented by the LMA are applied to a wood substrate (typically particleboard or MDF) and used in the production of furniture (household and office), store fixtures, cabinets (kitchen and bath), wall paneling and more.

Starting with only 12 members in 1985, the LMA has grown to nearly 140 member companies in the United States, Canada, England, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Venezuela. Approximately 45 of these companies are suppliers of decorative overlay materials or edgebanding. These companies are known as Reporting Members within the LMA. As their name implies they report their annual production or import data to the LMA for inclusion in the group’s annual statistical report.

The decorative finishing materials represented by the LMA include:

* Continuous Laminates

* Decorative Foils

* Heat Transfer Foils

* Low Basis Weight Papers

* Saturated Papers (a.k.a. Thermofused Melamine)

* Vinyl Films (includes membrane press vinyls)

* Edgebanding

The remaining members in the LMA, known as Nonreporting Members, supply all of the other materials required for laminating. These include Substrates, Adhesives and Equipment. A number of the Nonreporting Members are custom laminators, bringing all the supplies together and producing some type of laminated products. A few members in the LMA produce finished goods utilizing laminated products.

The Association’s Board of Directors is comprised of members who represent each of the major product categories covered by the LMA. Each Director serves for three years, while day-to-day operations of the LMA are taken care of by George Carter, Executive Director. The following members compose the LMA’s Board of Directors:

* Jerry Villa (American Adhesive Coatings Co.)

* Ed Zelasko (CFC International)

* Ed Dudley (Chiyoda America Inc.)

* Bjorn Wahl (Dyno Overlays, Inc.)

* Mike DiGiuro (Flexible Materials Inc.)

* Bruce Caplan (H.B. Fuller Co.)

* Jim Barnett (Omnova Solutions)

* Michael Brewer (Perstorp Unidur Inc.)

* Allen Pickering (Pickering Inc.)

Glossary of Terms

One of the first tasks undertaken by the LMA was the creation of a Glossary of Terms for the Laminating Industry. Realizing the need to standardize many of the terms used in the industry, the members of the LMA worked to produce useful definitions of all the overlays, edgebanding, adhesives, substrates and equipment used by laminators.

This handy, pocket-sized booklet is indispensable for sales and marketing people who need to interact with customers on a daily basis. It’s also great for use around the shop, when you have questions about materials.

The Glossary of Terms is available free from the LMA or you can download the complete text for the Glossary from our Web site ( If you would like the printed version, fax your request to the LMA at 201-666-5665.

We would like to hear from you if you have any suggestions for ways to improve the Glossary. Specifically, if there are any “buzz” words you use to describe any of the overlays or edgebanding represented by the LMA, please let us know and we can incorporate them into future versions of the Glossary.

Source of Supply Directory

In this issue of Wood & Wood Products you will find a Product Finder Guide that has each member of the LMA listed in their respective product categories. This handy section is based on the LMA’s Source of Supply Directory, which lists the actual products each company supplies along with addresses and phone numbers. Just like the Product Finder Guide, the Source of Supply Directory is separated into major product groupings. However, the longer Source of Supply Directory provides an overview of the actual products offered by each LMA member.

The LMA’s Source of Supply Directory is only available on-line from our Web site. If you do not have access to the Internet and need to contact an LMA member or need a list of companies in a specific category, please contact the LMA directly. We can arrange to fax you selected sections from the most current Directory. Fax your requests to 201-666-5665.

Voluntary Product Standards

In 1992, the Laminating Materials Association published a complete book of Voluntary Product Standards, which covered all the overlays and three of the edgebanding materials represented by the LMA. In addition, the newly revised book includes our standards for Profile Wrapped Materials as well as our Standard Test Measures for Laminated Products. The complete Standards Books costs $40. For more information, please contact the LMA.

Within each product standard, you will find references to a variety of test methods and expected results. Some of the sections within each of the Voluntary Product Standards are: Purpose, Scope, Product Requirements and Performance Characteristics.

The Standard Test Measures for Laminated Products includes six different tests that a laminator can perform, which will help determine the future potential for panel delamination. These tests are designed to be conducted quickly and with little expense, but they do not guarantee panel performance. In other words, even if your panel passes all six tests, there is no guarantee that it won’t delaminate at any time in the future. However, passing all the tests should be a good indicator of future performance.

Internet Web Site

In August of 1995, the LMA joined the digital revolution and established a Web site to increase access to the information available from the Association. The LMA’s site has evolved from a single page to multiple pages designed to address the needs of end-users.

If you visit the LMA’s Home Page ( you will find complete copies of our Glossary of Terms and the Source of Supply Directory. We also provide direct links to every member page that we are aware of, as well as links to other trade associations and magazines.

Do you have a question about laminating? Are you unsure of which product to select for your particular application? If you have any questions relating to laminating send them via e-mail to the LMA. We will do our best to answer your question directly or find someone within the LMA who can answer it. If you are looking for a new source of material, let us know that as well. We will forward your request to our members.

You can find links to other trade associations, magazines and LMA members. Recently published articles and a Calendar of Events can also be found on-line. For more information, e-mail the LMA at:

Annual Statistical Report

The LMA was formed to provide a continuous flow of statistical marketing information on the shipments of decorative overlays. The Laminating Materials Association collects shipment and import data from its members covering the decorative overlays it represents. Because data collection for the calendar year 1999 was nor complete at the time this article was written, estimates have been provided.

North American shipments of decorative overlays rose approximately 10% in 1999, to stand at 13.2 billion square feet (BSF). Shipments of overlays have been on a steady upward trend since the 1991 recession, falling only slightly in 1995 due to an inventory correction. Based on current estimates, the LMA believes that 1999 was the first year in a long time when every product category turned in a positive performance.

Current estimates for 1999 indicate that the vinyl films category rose more than 10% from the 1998 level. The LMA estimates that total 1999 North American shipment volume for all vinyl films will be roughly 2.7 BSF. Vinyl films, made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), may be either clear or solid color. If the film is clear, then it is printed on the reverse side, which protects the print. If the film is a solid color, the printing is on the top. There are six categories of vinyl films. Vinyl films can be used for wall paneling, case goods, stereo cabinets, and other applications. The rapid acceptance of membrane-pressable vinyls, known within the LMA as Thermoformed Overlays, have helped push up the whole category’s market share.

Low basis weight papers, occasionally referred to as “micro-papers” or “rice papers,” range in weight from 23 to 30 grams and are sometimes preimpregnated with resin. Acrylic, polyester, and other resins can be added during the paper making process to improve the internal bond strength of the paper. The paper is then printed and generally coated with polyurethane, urea, polyester, acrylic or melamine resins, or a combination thereof. Total North American shipments of these papers rose about 6% in 1999, to stand at 3.8 BSF. Low basis weight papers make up the largest segment of the decorative overlay market, accounting for more than 28% of total volume of decorative overlays shipped in 1999.

Decorative foils are cellulose papers weighing between 40 and 140 grams per square meter untreated, although most of the commercially available papers in this category tend to range between 40 and 80 grams per square meter. These overlays may be impregnated or topcoated with melamine resins. Treating may add 20 to 40 grams of weight or more, depending on the basis weight of the paper. Decorative foils require an adhesive for lamination.

These papers are generally referred to as “finished foils” in Europe. In the United States they have been called melamine papers, intermediate weight foils, and impregnated foils. They are all of intermediate weight, but so are most of the saturated papers. And “foils” are not all finished, nor are they all impregnated. Impregnation, or lack thereof, and the percentage of resin used, have a direct effect on the internal bond strength of the paper, as well as the porosity, cutting qualities, and machinability. Total North American shipments of decorative foils experienced strong growth in 1999, rising more than 12%. This follows a 14% gain in 1998, bringing total shipment volume in the United States and Canada to 1.8 BSF for 1999.

Saturated papers, also known as thermo-fused melamine (TFM), generally weigh between 60 and 130 grams per square meter, with the majority of usage falling between 80 and 120 grams per square meter. These overlays are saturated with reactive resins, which are partially cured at the point of saturation. Final curing is done at the time of hot press lamination when the resins form a hard crosslinked thermoset material. The paper formation is similar to the decor sheet used for high pressure laminates. These products are self-bonding; that is, the resin in the paper flows into the surface of the board during lamination, creating a permanent bond. Thus, no external adhesives are required. Since the LMA began tracking shipments of these papers in 1975, this product group has declined only 4 times! Shipments of saturated papers in North America rose about 12% in 1999, to stand at 3.2 BSF.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Vance Publishing Corp.

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