By Abhijit Phadke
As the name suggests, prelaminated particle boards are particle boards (PB) that have a decorative laminate surface attached to it at the time of its manufacture. Adding such a decorative laminate over the board surface greatly increases its aesthetic value by making it look more attractive for the end-customer, as also increases the board's resistance to moisture, and to wear and tear.
Prelam (Prelaminated) boards are often categorized into the two types listed below.
1. OSL: One sided lamination. In this case only one side of the particle board (the top surface or show surface) is laminated, while the other side is kept plain.
2. BSL: Both sided lamination. In the case of BSL, both the top and bottom surfaces of the particle boards are prelaminated at the time of manufacturing. This also makes BSL is costlier than OSL.
A short cycle lamination production line, that utilizes lower pressure press machines, is used for prelaminating the particle boards. A decorative paper impregnated (saturated) with melamine resin is pressed over the particle board surface using press machines. The process employed for the lamination of MDF and HDF (Medium and High density fibre-boards) is also the same.
Prelaminated particle boards are also sometimes known as MFC (Melamine faced chipboards) because decorative paper impregnated with melamine resin is used as the laminate and bonded over the particle boards. By the addition of laminates, the otherwise plain particle boards get adorned with colourful shades, designs, as well as textures. Designs that replicate the look and feel of wood are more popular with customers.
Such Prelam particle boards are usually made by manufacturers in two different grades, viz. Interior grade and Exterior grade, based on the types of resins used in its making. The Exterior grade boards are stronger than the Interior grade ones.
Comparison with Laminated Plywood.
In the case of plywood, decorative laminates usually have to be separately purchased, cut to size and glued over the plywood surfaces by carpenters. These decorative laminates used with plywood generally have a thickness of 2 to 2.5 mm, and are made of brown kraft paper impregnated with phenolic resin, plus a decorative paper saturated with melamine resin.
Whereas in the case of prelaminated particle boards the total lamination thickness gets significantly reduced, since brown paper is not required, and the melamine saturated decorative paper is directly heat-pressed and bonded over the particle board surfaces.
Pre laminated particle boards have several end-uses such as in the making of ready-made furniture, and for making kitchen cabinets, false ceiling, wall panels, partitions and other such applications. Particle boards are not as strong as plywood or blockboards, however the costs of these boards is also significantly lower than the cost of plywood sheets of the same size.