Use 3D Laminates For Kitchens, Cabinets & More
What is a 3D Laminate or Thermofoil?
3D Laminate (often called thermofoil or RTF) is just as it sounds – a decorative film that can be formed into 3 dimensions. There is often some confusion about 3D laminate – the most common terminology for items such as Formica and Wilsonart is High Pressure Laminate (HPL), these items come as laminate sheets (typically 4’ x 8’) and they are applied to a substrate with various adhesives. They can only really be used in a flat 2D application. Similarly, TFL (thermofused laminate or melamine) is a paper pressed onto a substrate using resins and is available only in a flat 2D board format.
3DL is not a laminate sheet or a board, but a film in a continuous roll. It is designed to form around a substrate using heat and pressure, and it is not limited to the flat plane but can form around heavily contoured faces. When used for 3D laminate kitchen doors and drawers for example, it forms around all 5 faces of the door/drawer (all except the back). This removes the need for edgebanding that
comes from using alternative 2D laminates, and gives a seamless, easily cleanable and ergonomic look.
3D Laminate vs HPL vs TFL
It sounds great not to have the black edges that come with edgebanding an HPL, and the delamination and dirt collection issues that will eventually occur using edge banded components – but does 3D laminate perform as well as these other specialty decorative laminates? Is it as durable, cleanable and stain resistant?
HPL standards are well understood and therefore a useful benchmark when comparing the performance features that designers are most interested in. SSI uses the NEMA LD3-2005 HPL standard to compare the wearability of our 3D laminates in both vertical and horizontal applications.
One of the main tests is called the Taber Abrasion and it counts the number of rotations it takes to wear through the decorative surface of the material. With ratings of 750-4950 cycles for SSI’s 3D laminates, our quality products outperform both HPL and TFL which have an average of 400 cycles. 3D laminates also outperform on the NEMA Ball Impact test, where HPLs brittleness causes it to crack.
SSI’s 3D laminates are also very resistant to stains and chemicals and is one of the easiest decorative materials to clean with simple solutions such as mild detergents as well as standing up to aggressive hospital quality disinfectants.
Horizontal 3D Laminate Applications – The Parallel Collection
Designers are always looking for trendsetting 3D laminate design options that can be used in horizontal applications. The challenge is to find 3D laminate film surfaces that have both aesthetic appeal and durable performance. To assist in this search, we have identified the 3D laminate thermofoils in our collection that perform well in both vertical and horizontal situations by our Parallel icon. We curate our stocked North American 3D laminate selection based on multiple factors – of course the latest surface trends but also the requirement for stain, wear and bacterial resistance, ease of cleaning as well as the environmentally and ergonomically friendly options that 3D laminate thermofoil affords us.
SSI’s 3D Laminate film is the right choice for so many horizontal environments – from medical waiting and treatment rooms, dental suites, reception desks, meeting areas, conference rooms, cafeteria spaces and the list goes on. When pressed, 3D laminate thermofoils form to create seamless faces which accept the frequent cleaning required in many applications without delamination or dirty edgebanding failures. SSI’s 3D laminate films are water resistant, non-porous and inert, allowing contoured shapes to be created that are spill proof – a plus when dealing with medical and dental applications.
ReCover – 3D Laminate from Recycled Content
ReCover is a new range of 3D laminates made from recycled PET suitable for membrane pressing and flat lamination. ReCover is made from recycled post-consumer PET bottle waste which our manufacturer is able to turn into a recycled film with exceptional quality and consistency. Introducing ReCover to our designers is an important step in creating added value, accessing environmentally conscious building and design projects, and this program reflects architects, designers and consumer’s interest in eco-friendly sustainable building practices and products. We have five 3DL recycled content color options which have been chosen specifically with the current mega trends in mind, especially the Wellness and Well Building trends where interior environments are being designed with biophilic, organic and natural elements in mind.
Best 3D Laminates
Refacing and Alternative Surface Applications
Often designers work with clients where cabinetry needs to be updated in place. In these cases SSI provides an ingenious solution for transforming a dated existing kitchen into one with fresh 3D laminate cabinets. Cabinet door and drawer fronts (kitchen, bath and commercial) can be ordered in a 3D foil from a local fabricator, and the Exact Match Laminate can be created by SSI to be used in the refacing of the static portions of the cabinetry (such as exposed sides).
SSI creates it’s EML by applying the same 3D foil to either a phenolic back (essentially creating an HPL but with the performance of a 3D laminate thermofoil) or a 3M Peel and Stick adhesive backer. Now there are multiple options to create an exceptional coordinated decorative laminate finish for more challenging projects.
SSI’s 3D Laminate Stocked Design Collection
SSI has curated its 3D laminate film selection – the colors, woodgrains and textures (including a large range of 3DL Super Mattes) – as inspiration to create sophisticated design concepts with next generation surfaces. Featuring the highest quality 3D laminate films (including our ReCover 3DL from recycled content line), our North American stocked collection is a comprehensive program with 3D laminate designs suitable for such wide-ranging applications as 3D laminate kitchen and bath cabinets (doors and drawer fronts), sculpted wall panels, decorative screens, hospital trays, interior signage, emergency services dispatch desks, storage lockers, laboratory cabinets and so much more.
We specifically mention that SSI’s 3D laminates are all stocked items because we have our entire range available in our warehouse, ready to ship out within 24 hours. We have no minimum order requirement, which gives designers the exceptional opportunity to design unique one offs without penalty.
3D Laminates – Additional Resources
At SSI we are constantly striving to provide tools and resources for our direct customers and the design community. Understanding the benefits of our 3DL products can be a key aspect to landing a sale or specifying for a project. We have created this CEU: Specifying 3D Laminated Components to offer additional insight into the 3D foil product and processes, along with all the technical data sheets held under the Resources