Next year, from 27 to 31 May, LIGNA will showcase the full spectrum of innovations from providers of woodworking and wood processing technologies. The show will feature comprehensive coverage of the latest surface finishing trends and technologies, including haptic, matt and glossy surfaces, digital and decorative gravure printing solutions, print inspection systems, spray coating systems and robotics applications. Themed “Smart Surface Technologies”, the surface finishing exhibits at LIGNA 2019 will span the full range of smart processing solutions for stunning surfaces. “The R&D agenda in the surface technology arena is increasingly being set by a growing range of materials, new material mixes and the trend towards individualization. It’s all about achieving greater flexibility while keeping costs to a minimum. Automation and digitization are the most important factors in this context. At the upcoming LIGNA, the exhibitors in Halls 16 and 17 and in parts of Hall 15 will present all the latest surface finishing technologies, applications, innovations and solutions,” said Christian Pfeiffer, Deutsche Messe’s Global Director LIGNA & Woodworking Events. In the industrial sector, the trend is towards digital printing and variable systems. When it comes to lacquers and glues, environmental friendliness and resource efficiency are primary considerations. The lines between manufacturers and the skilled trades are becoming increasingly blurred as cabinetmaking and carpentry firms gain access to technologies that have previously been the exclusive preserve of much bigger companies. Another key factor driving this development is increasing market demand for highly authentic haptic surfaces, on both reconstituted and solid wood products, right across the furniture manufacturing and cabinetmaking sectors. Examples here include bronzed surfaces and rough-sawn finishes – challenges that call for highly specialized machines if they are to be mastered cost-effectively. Hence, in the industrial sector, digital printing solutions are gaining ground on their decorative gravure printing counterparts. In fact, thanks to recent advances, digital printing is now emerging as the more cost-effective alternative: “We believe that digital printing will generally cut production costs by over ten percent,” said Dr. René Pankoke, CEO of Hymmen Maschinen- und Anlagenbau GmbH. In laminate flooring production, recent advances in digital printing technology have also enabled the production of highly authentic continuous decorative layers in hitherto impossible lengths. “With digital printing, pattern length is not limited by printing cylinder diameter. We can now print patterns up to 6,000 mm long,” said Holger Dzeia, head of marketing and sales at Interprint. Inspection systems that ensure consistently high quality are becoming increasingly important in digital printing, with scanners already successfully integrated into single-pass lines all around the world. In the near future, camera-based control systems will ensure maximum quality and process reliability across the entire value chain, from printing and impregnation right through to the final pressing stage. The growing uptake of digital printing systems in the timber and woodworking industry is opening up promising opportunities for technology providers. The increasing compatibility between established gravure printing systems and new digital options is also having a positive influence in this context. Further opportunities for technology providers may come from the growth of decentralized print production. Visitors at next year’s LIGNA can also expect to see many exciting spray coating innovations. For instance, it is now possible to produce both matt and glossy finishes on the some inkjet machine. . Texture spray printing solutions open up even more applications and cost saving potential. With these types of solutions, the printed decorative pattern has a matching sprayed-on texture pattern, resulting in highly authentic visual and haptic finishes. The automation trend is just as strong in the spray coating sector as it is in other sectors of industry. Progress in spray coating technology is largely driven by small, low-cost, easy-to-program robots that boost competitiveness by enabling high reproducibility without compromising quality. In the solid wood sector, oil finishes are very “in” at present. Special roller oil coating machines have been developed especially for furniture, staircase and parquet manufacturers. The latest generation of these machines will be on show at LIGNA 2019. On the sanding front, diagonal sanding systems capable of processing spray coated and veneered surfaces are currently at the forefront of technology. Automation is also big news here, with the advent of industrial robotic sanding machines capable of performing highly complex tasks that were once possible only by manual means. Efficiency-boosting systems are also making big inroads into the adhesives sector. For instance, new adhesives containers now enable easy switching between all types of adhesives, including PUR adhesives. Major efficiency gains are also becoming possible through the use of interfaces which fully integrate adhesive application systems into host systems. Technologies that may still seem like distant visions to some are already a working reality to others. In the age of digitization and integrated manufacturing, the timeframe for big developmental leaps is no longer measured in years but in months. This makes a visit to LIGNA all the more important for anyone wanting to keep abreast of the latest trends in wood processing and woodworking technology. When the show next opens its gates in May 2019, it will feature many market-ready systems that are currently still on the drawing board. Alongside “Smart Surface Technologies”, the focus themes at LIGNA 2019 are “Integrated Woodworking – Customized Solutions” and “Access to Resources and Technology”, the latter being the keynote theme of the Wood Industry Summit.