Sanding and finishing of plastic and HPL: how to do them best

How to finish plastic and HPL and get the best results


Materials such as plastic and HPL laminate are particularly versatile, resistant and long-lasting and can be used in many sectors and areas of use: from furniture to doors and windows, up to the industrial sector. To guarantee the realization of quality finished products, however, they must be worked at best and with machinery that ensures precise results and optimal finishes, specific for each type of application.


So, let’s find out together the main characteristics of these materials and which are the most suitable machines to best perform the sanding and finishing processes of plastic and HPL.


What is HPL laminate?


With HPL (High Pressure Laminate) we mean a particular high thickness layered material, obtained by compressing several sheets of Kraft paper impregnated with thermosetting resins and made compact with decorative paper and protective material, subjected to high temperatures (140/150 °) and pressure. In this way a homogeneous material is obtained, non-porous and extremely resistant to water, scratches, thermal changes and many chemical agents or corrosive substances. Due to its specific aesthetic and resistance characteristics, it is often used for the creation of furniture and furnishing elements, such as tops for tables and desks, doors and parts of furniture, but also furnishings and external finishes.


In addition to being extremely durable, HPL laminate is easy to clean and maintain and ensures a high level of hygiene. This makes it particularly suitable for making furnishings and elements for hospitals, pharmacies, health facilities, swimming pools and gyms and, in general, in all places where high standards of cleanliness and hygiene must be respected.


Plastic and HPL finishes: which processes can be performed?


Depending on the sector and the specific area of ​​use of plastic or HPL products, different types of finishes and processes can be carried out, essential for obtaining precise results and responding precisely to customer requests. Among the main processes of plastic and HPL there are certainly:


  • rustication, a type of finish that allows the surface finish of the material to be uniform in order to prepare it for subsequent treatments;
  • grinding, a precision operation that allows you to shape the material and bring it to size while respecting predefined tolerances;
  • polishing, carried out using special brushes to reduce the roughness of the surfaces;
  • smoothing, useful for making surfaces uniform, while respecting the predefined surface roughness characteristics;
  • scratching, a process that allows to obtain a high roughness thanks to the use of machinery equipped with special brushes;
  • milling, an operation that allows you to shape the materials according to the different uses and sectors of use;
  • edge finishing to optimize the profiles of the raw material.


How to best perform sanding and finishing operations


The plastic or HPL sanding process is very similar to that of painted wood because, in this case too, Scotch Brite abrasive belts, brushes and wheels are used. However, plastic and HPL are very sensitive to temperature, therefore, during the finishing phase, you must pay the utmost attention and set cutting speeds that are not too high.
If overheated, elements of black color, or in any case dark, could lighten and lose uniformity with respect to the rest of the material. For the removal phase it is therefore necessary to resort to ventilated abrasive belts, using very low speeds and possibly insisting with pressure. For finishing operations, it is essential to maintain controlled speeds and to keep the materials always cold.


The types of finishes required may vary according to the type of use and scope of application. HPL laminates can be used in many sectors: from furnishings (for the construction of tables, furniture, kitchen tops, bathrooms) to the external finishes of buildings, up to the medical and industrial sectors.


The ideal machines for plastic or HPL finishing


HPL and plastics can be very sensitive to any uneven processing. The most suitable machines for sanding and finishing processes are therefore those that have an automatic feed: if the operators focused more on the processing of a specific area, in fact, the signs would be clearly visible on the material. The machines that allow you to perform automatic advancement processes avoid this risk and allow you to obtain a homogeneous result and precise finishes.


Depending on the needs, type and quantity of production, you can choose specific finishing solutions, such as the Volpato machines of the LS line, ideal for satin finishing and polishing, or machines for more complex but always automatic processes, such as models of the LBO line.
The special machine LBO-60 / A STS, in particular, is very versatile: it allows to obtain glossy and super-glossy finishes and is ideal for those who want to increase the level of production while maintaining high product quality, or for large companies that have the need to work oversize panels.
In addition to standard machinery, Volpato is also able to design and manufacture customized and tailor-made machinery for plastic and HPL sanding and finishing, designed to best meet the specific needs of the customer.


Why choose Volpato machines?

As seen above, the processing and finishing processes of certain materials require specific and custom-designed machines: this is essential to perform the work operations efficiently and safely and to obtain quality products, which fully meet the expectations of the end customer. Thanks to the long experience in the sector and the deep knowledge of materials and finishes, Volpato can advise and guide each customer in choosing the best and most suitable machinery for specific types of processing, reaching a high level of customization.


The machines can be designed and made to measure, based on the characteristics of a specific production line and respecting the required production volumes. Volpato offers a very wide range of machinery to meet the processing and finishing needs of every type of customer: from small artisans who want to improve performance and productivity, to large industries that need specific solutions to improve the final result of the products.