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Woodworking Network– North American Plywood Corp. started as a plywood importer and distributor, but it has become much more.

Their products today are defined by the customer’s imagination.

The company has steadily expanded its own capabilities to match and exceed that of the customer’s imagination, and they offer new options, including panel processing, UV coating and digital printing.

As an example, North American takes two things that may be considered separate and combines them, by printing wood designs on wood veneer. They can print multiple species on one type of veneer and are doing the same on particleboard and MDF.

“It’s real wood that we’re digitally staining,” said Don Kuser, general manager.

Russian birch, for example, can be a blank canvas for printing, and a neutral base, said Marshall Williams, creative technician.

Williams works with the customer and is involved in the design process, demonstrating capabilities and possibilities. Digital staining permeates the wood, and Naply can control the cure and gloss levels.

“We’re only limited by (what) the end user wants,” Williams said.

“You never know where it may lead,” sales manager Matt Mullen said.

Naply’s new Onset x2 direct-to-substrate printer can create large, accurate images. It can print on a panel as large as 63 x 123 inches. Two ABB robots load and unload panels.

Increasing capabilities

The limits in product design are continuing to expand, thanks to a direct-to-substrate digital printer and other technology. Panels with special coatings, finishes, cores and sizes are the company’s specialty. They can supply panels up to 7 x 20 feet with a thickness up to 4 inches. Custom panel cutting and CNC machining can be done in house with new technology equipment. One of the largest 60-inch wide UV finishing lines is available for one and two sided UV finishes on panels up to 63 X 123 inches. Also, a PUR laminating line provides a wide variety of laminated panels.

All manufacturing is in Parsippany, New Jersey. The company is based in Santa Fe Springs, California, with four other distribution locations. There are 30 employees in New Jersey.

As a specialty plywood importer and wholesaler, the company has a large inventory in Parsippany with a variety of plywood types, thicknesses and sizes. They’re not limited to standard panel sizes, and may carry 4 x 8, 5 x 5, 5 x 6, or 5 x 10 panels. Much of the material is FSC certified.

The company is one of the largest importers of Russian birch, and Sveza is a major supplier. Sveza brand Russian birch hardwood plywood is made in six modern mills. The company is the world’s largest producer of natural Russian birch plywood.

Italy and Brazil are also major suppliers, and Kuser said many European and South American suppliers are delivering good quality.

Kuser said he avoids Chinese plywood due to inconsistencies in quality and evenness. Specifically, he has heard of cases of initial shipments of Chinese plywood being of acceptable quality, but later shipments dropping in performance and consistency.

“North American imports unusual products that have performance that exceeds existing products, in terms of strength, consistency or void-free cores,” Mullen said.

One of North American’s specialties is making furniture parts, furniture components and drawer side blanks.

Products and parts

One of North American’s specialties is making furniture parts, furniture components and drawer side blanks made of Russian birch with a flat and round top edge and UV clear coated.

They also make wood components for vehicles and flooring, children’s furniture and entertainment sets, including stages for well-known entertainers, and other items like cargo boxes for resorts. Other products include concrete forming panels and dieboards.

Lite Ply is a multi-ply panel with thickness from 1/8 up to 2 inches that is up to 30 percent lighter than standard plywood and can be used in interior and exterior applications such as boating, retail displays, and interiors. It is plantation grown, CARB II compliant and FSC certified. Another product, Wiggle Wood, is a bending panel designed to be flexible enough to conform to many shapes, even on a job site.

Automated UV line

A major component in Naply’s capabilities is a large automated UV coating line, reported to be one of the largest in North America. Built by Burkle, the line includes multiple stages, roll coaters and three Costa widebelt sanders.

The UV coating line can handle 4 x 8, 4 x 10, 5 x 5, 5 x 10, and 5 x 12 panel sizes in any thickness from 1/8 to 2 inches.

The process includes two reverse fillers, three smooth sanders, and six roll coaters. A Wandres rotating brush cleaner applies “micro cleaning” to the surface. Junker handling equipment stacks, flips, and lifts panels for the coating line.

The process ends with a full hard cure and final UV topcoat. An automated stacking system can handle any configuration. Special finishes include anti-microbial, high wear, dry-erase and other opaque finishes.

Also, a new Barberan “compact line” is being installed in Parsippany and will be used for applying high-gloss coatings or ultra matte on other surfaces such as melamine.

A major component in Naply’s capabilities is a large automated UV coating line, one of the largest in North America.

Direct-to-substrate printer

The biggest addition to Naply’s capabilities is an Onset x2 direct-to-substrate printer that can create large, accurate images. Inca Digital Printers Ltd. In Cambridge, England, supplies the printer, with Fuji Film as a major component supplier.

The Onset wide-format inkjet platform has a large print bed that can print on a panel as large as 63 x 123 inches. A vacuum bed helps ensure flatness. Two ABB robots can load and unload panels. The printer has been in operation in Parsippany since March.

Kuser said the company has continued with a steady upgrade in equipment and technology.

Instead of having a warehouse full of laminate designs, the printer allows them to keep an unlimited number of designs as digital files in the equivalent of a box on a desktop. (The digital information for one 4 x 8 sheet can be 2 gb or more.)

Naply’s new digital printing capabilities can provide infinite possibilities for customer designs, Kuser said.

Kuser said that major contract furniture manufacturers have been shown the technology and what it can do.

Mullen said they can print a company’s logo on wood as a way to demonstrate the technology.

Panel processing

North American Plywood has heavy-duty panel processing capability in house, including five Northwood CNC routers, most with two tables, twin heads and tool changers. One of the Northwoods was added this year.

There are also two Schelling fh6 rear-load panel saws, TAWI Lyftman vacuum lifts that improve handling, and a Holz-Her edgebander that was recently added. A custom-built drawer side blank machine is also kept busy.

The New Jersey location also has a large Superfici edge coater with Doucet return conveyor, and a Barberan laminating machine in a separate area.

Services include cutting to size, custom cutting and routing, flat lamination and UV edge coating, in addition to digital staining and finishing on plywood, particleboard, MDF, metal and plastics in panel sizes up to 63 x 123 inches and up to 2 inches thick.

In assembly of components, Mullen credited the Rampa connectors with improving their products. He said it has a steeper angle, more thread starts, bottoms out better, and works well with laminates. (Rampa Tec Inc. makes inserts with multiple three-thread design so the insert stays straight with the surface of the material.)

“We’re solution providers, we sell Russian birch because it does the job, it is strong, not because it is cheap,” Kuser said. “You have to let the customers show where the limits are.”

North American Plywood Corp.

Parsippany, New Jersey

Products: Plywood distribution, specialized printing and coating, wood components, furniture parts

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