Established in 1976, Starbank Panel Products is one of the UK’s premier decorative panel fabricators for interior fit-outs. The company specialises in manufacturing decorative panel products from high-pressure laminates, wood-based panels and solid surfaces, as well as commercial and industrial plastics.
It consistently develops its own brands, exclusive to Starbank, which extend the material options for projects or component outsourcing. Phil Darbyshire, MD at Starbank, takes up the story: “We are continually investing in the latest machine and IT technology to enable our team to meet and exceed customer expectations.
“As a bespoke fabricator we love to work on projects from the everyday, to one-off assignments that are too difficult for our competitors. Recently, the growing trend for more precise tolerance edge detail, such as on compact laminate or lacquered plywood, with perhaps a radius or chamfered edge, led to us wanting to replace our existing Homag machine for the very latest technological gain.”
Tracing units provide perfect edge processing, regardless of changes in panel thickness
Makor wide-track edge-processing machine
“At Starbank, we produce about half a million panels a year. Around 80% of these are bespoke to the customer’s design and may never be produced again. So, when we’re specifying machines, we are not only looking for the usual attributes like reliability, price and service back-up, but we also look for a machine that is flexible.
“In addition, it has to be quick and easy to set up, because every production day is different, every job is different, and sometimes every panel is different – so the speed of set-up is vital for us.
“We manufacture a lot of custom, post-formed worktops for healthcare, as an example – HTM 63 profiles being a speciality – so we need a reliable edge-processing machine to put the radius on the edge before we wrap the laminate around.
“Our association with Homag goes back a long way, so the first person we talked to about this was their area manager, Jon Lawman. Knowing our business inside out, Jon immediately understood what we were looking for and suggested the Makor wide-track edge-processing machine.
Achieving the perfect finish with fine detail
“Although we had experience of similar machines, what attracted us to this particular model were the two tracing units. The core products we work with are wood-based panels and compact-grade laminates which, at one time, of course, have been a living entity by nature of their composition. The drawback of this is that, despite the efforts of the board manufacturers, we are faced with a working thickness tolerance that needs to be addressed to ensure a class-leading finish can be achieved.
“When you are machining fine details such as small radii or chamfer edges, any tolerance in the panel thickness distorts that detail, so it’s almost impossible to achieve a perfect finish.
“Let’s say you want a 2mm radius down the length of the board. If the panel is slightly thicker at one end than the other, the result is a part radius at one end and a full radius at the other. The tracing units on the Makor machine trace the thickness of the panel, top and bottom, to remove any tolerance. This guarantees perfect edge-processing detail, which is a great result for our customers – and, ultimately, the end user.
A solid partnership
“The Makor also has three sanding heads. One does the flat edge of the panel and then the other two are at 45° to sand the radius or chamfer top and bottom. Again, this is an important feature for us. If we are processing raw plywood and it’s getting lacquered, or we are processing a compact laminate that needs oiling, then they have to be sanded to a good finish to achieve the desired results.
“Another key benefit of the Makor is its wide track, which helps with long, narrow parts. When you are machining the detail on the end of the panels it keeps them square to the machine and holds them steady so, once more, you get consistent detail.
“Overall, we’re delighted with the Makor. It does exactly what we wanted it to do, and Homag UK has, as usual, been really helpful in supporting us. They were flexible when we had to delay the installation, and they always stand by their products, working with us if issues need to be resolved,” concludes Phil.
The Homag Group has enjoyed a successful partnership with Makor since 2017 and is the UK distributor for its products. Makor is a leading manufacturer of wood-finishing machines for workshops and industrial manufacturers of furniture, window parts and wood components.
The Makor Group has created systems for finishing any kind of profile, both for the furniture and building industries. It offers solutions for processing a wide range of materials including wood, MDF, glass, plastic, metal, chipboard, coated elements and special materials.
For a demonstration, or more information on the Makor range or any of Homag’s edge-processing machines, contact Adele Hunt at Homag UK on 01332 856424.