|Beelite, Re-board (Design Force), BioBoard (PlyVeneer), Falconboard (Hexacomb Pregis), X-board (Xanita)|
At VISCOM Paris 2009 three booths had their furniture made from either Re-Board, BioBoard or Falconboard. At SignAfrica '09 there was X-board from Xanita in more than 75% of the booths of UV-cured flatbed printers. At Print '09 there was Re-Board in several booths and BioBoard in others.
I have worked with UV-cured printers since DRUPA 2004, have studied UV-cured printers since DRUPA 2000 but have never seen such buzz about low-density fiber board material.
At SGIA '09 all the major manufacturers of recyclable honeycomb structure of kraft paper with white-covered printable surface had booths except for Xanita (which is a bit scarce in the US).
I never noticed any of this at trade shows in 2008 or before. Clearly the entire green ecology trend is taking hold: HP latex ink is another good example: this was the most discussed topic at SGIA ‘2009 (whether the ink was as capable as PR releases claimed).
By 2011 there were many new brands, such as Beelite
White printable surface
The intent of these boards is to have a white printable surface. Re-board is the most white (simple eye-ball test with an equal-sized example of X-Board, Bio-Board, and Falconboard side by side).
Falconboard and X-board have the smoothest surface. Re-Board and Bio-Board are not as smooth (which is not by any means a disadvantage! Ink may stick better). This is a basic finger test: I have all four boards in front of me and I pass my fingers over each one.
Next step is obviously a printability test: which looks best when and why? This implies an actual project, so as soon as funding becomes available we will initiate actual demo-room printing.
Diverse other surface materials
But non-white surfaces are also available, such as Kor-Board from Panel Processing. And X-Board (Xanita) comes with MEF or other surfaces to make decorative veneer. Others have high- pressure laminate applied to one or both sides (such as Formica). Or you can get Melamine skins.
A lot of this material is used on building RVs (recreational vehicles; you can see what they are build of in the TV shows that pictures demolition derbys of cars pulling old RVs. The RVs get crashed into and fly into pieces when smashed by a car or by another fast moving RV. So you can notice that most of the RV is sandwich board out of kraft paper.
Diverse sizes and thicknesses
Some boards come in standard sizes (4x8' for USA, which is 48 x 96 inches) or other European sizes in centimeters. Thicknesses can be anywhere from 18mm to 68 mm (for X-board, which is quite substantial).
I would expect these boards have some basic thermal insulation properties as well (since they are used as siding, especially in RVs).
A primary advantage of using X-board for all the furniture at FIFA venues in South Africa in 2010 is the fact that the material is not heavy. MDF and HDF are heavy materials, as of course is plywood. So the transportation costs are lower than for regular furniture.
And plastic is, well, it's plastic and thus has a bad name even before the trend to green awareness.
There is no standard name for the material
MDO, MDF, HDF are all standard industry names for other kinds of composite board material. But there is not as much consistency in how all the recyclable paper products are called.
Xanita uses the phrase low-density fiber board. I have seen sandwich board elsewhere. Other is called paperboard (which makes the material sound flimsy; in actually you can build temporary structures and furniture: the chairs are strong enough to sit and some you can even stand on them). The material may be “paper” but I consider them “boards” (not sheets of paper).
The interior stucture is called “closed-cell honeycomb core. The word honey comb is crequently used but the size of the honey comb varies considerably, with Falconboard having large empty spaces and all the others being actually more compact than an actual beehive honeycomb.
I have seen the term verticell technology used, but rarely.
To add to the confusion, many of these boards come in different forms. So Xanita has X-Board and X-Core.
The intent of these materials is to provide a recyclable lightwate lightweight viable alternative to rigid extruded foam PVC sheets.
Contents are varying degrees of Post Consumer Waste
Some of the material is virgin material. BioBoard is 63% post consumer waste content. Most of the other fiber board is kraft paper with varying amounts of post consumer waste.
All of the inner paper material can be recycled. The outer white surface may or may not be completely recyclable. But for sure the material is more ecologically friendly than PVC and foam board.
Brand names for lightweight, recyclable paper (cardboard) boards
Inclusion on this page on the FLAAR web site is not a recommendation; inclusion here only means we have seen them at one or more trade shows recently (2009 onward).
The only way we can recommend a material, or a company, is when we have been facilitated to visit the company headquarters, get to know the company there, visit their demo room and/or factory or mill, and then visit an end-user to check to see how the material actual works with a UV-cured flatbed inkjet printer.
We would also prefer to check how the material can be cut with a digital flatbed cutter-router such as Zund, etc.
Some of these products come from the world of packaging material (Falconboard, for example). But today if you wish your display and signage to hold up you need structural strength in a board. Plus you need a printable surface (preferably white!). So we list primarily those products that are printable
List of Rigid Paper Composite Boards (low density fiber board):
Plus several other brands that we will mention in a series of new FLAAR Reports on honeycomb sandwich board materials.
Can be cut and joined
Most good digital flatbed cutter-routers can V-cut these low-density fiber boards. Kongsberg XL is the cutter we know the best. Kongsberg is the cutter being used to create all the furniture and “fences” of X-board for the FIFA soccer event in South Africa. Actually four Kongsberg cutters are working on this project already.
BioBoard calls itself a lightweight wood alternative, meaning it can be handled as a wood material and turned into walling material, furniture, etc.
The Re-board booklet shows ramps that are strong enough to put a car onto (for a photo shoot).
Scores of accessories are readily available
Drytac makes a DES-4 Foam Edging Machine to put a handsome solid edge (façade) onto the otherwise rough cut surface of this honeycomb material.
Fastenders and endless number of accessories are available. These are listed on the web sites of DesignForce or Re-Board, the web site of Xanita, etc.
Acknowledgements for assistance on recyclable low density fiber boards
I thank Harvey Meister, owner of GDS Professional Business Displays printing company, for giving me the names of the key brands. Marc Oosterhuis, President of Drytac, also provided the key brand names (their edge machine, DES-4 Foam Edging Machine can put a nice finished surface on the edges of cut boards).
Marc Rannow of Kongsberg (i-cut demo room at former MGE headquarters, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, now part of Esko Artwork) kindly provided me samples of each major material: Re-Board, X-Board, Bio-Board, and Falcon Board.
James Beattie, CEO of Xanita, make time in his schedule to have breakfast with me in Johannesburg. Xanita is a company located in South Africa.
The president of Re-Board in Sweden, Kurt Aldén provided me information in his booth at VISCOM Paris 2009. Two weeks earlier I had received a visit from their US distributors (ZN Productions), Danny Zheng (Managing Partner), Bob Jacobson (Managing Partner), Keith M. Krasney (Director of Sales/Marketing), who came to the FLAAR booth at PRINT 09 in Chicago.
Also at PRINT '09 I spoke with Gary Lyndon and Denise MacLaren about Re-Board. They are in Oce North America, Imaging Supplies, Wide Format Printing Systems.
Wide Format Printers