Edgebanders: Glue Pot Versus Cartridge Versus Hot Air

Here's a detailed discussion of edgebander characteristics, for a shop owner who's trying to make a purchase decision. May 28, 2010

I need some advice on the purchase of an edgebanding machine. Keeping in mind that I am a one man shop that only does 12-15 sets of cabinets per year, does anyone have any thoughts on the Minimax me15 and me20 or the Felder p 200 or g200? Also, outsourcing is not an option as there is no one in my area that does that sort of work.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor L:
Look at Nebraska Tools. That machine would be perfect for you. My advice is to stay with glue pot banders only.

From contributor S:
To contributor L: I am interested in your thoughts on why to stay with a glue pot bander? What are the advantages? Secondly, what are the costings regarding cleaning?

From contributor R:
I second a glue pot machine also. It gives you way more choices and you can glue laminate, PVC, wood, etc.

From contributor J:
The edge banders you are looking at are hot air edge banders. They are great machines if all you run is pre-glued edge banding. A glue pot machine like everyone else said is a great machine with flexibility. It also allows you to glue different material. In my experience it gives a faster product as thicker edge banding with a better bond.

From contributor P:
Find a decent used glue-pot machine. You'd outgrow a hot-air machine quickly, and their residual value is pretty low.

From contributor D:
I started with a hot air bander. I out grew and purchased a 70k bander. It went down in the end trimmer area. I called for service, had a tech in the next day but while we were waiting, we hooked up the old hot air because we actually had some pre-glued PVC banding that matched. We ran one piece, turned it off, turned the big bander on, turned the end trimmers off, and cut all the ends by hand. Still hands down, without the end trimmers on, much, much faster. We finished that job, had the bander fixed and had the next job done that night.

From contributor R:
Do not let the size of your shop cause you to buy the wrong machine. I have seen many small shops with the wrong edgebander, the wrong widebelt because the owner said I am small. Buy a machine based on what you need that machine to do.

From contributor P:
With a hot air bander you are limited to pre-glued tapes. Take the cost of non-glue tape and the cost of the hotmelt glue to apply and you find you save about three cents per foot over pre-glued. The bond on a gluepot machine is 50% to 60% stronger. A gluepot machine allows you to apply HPL and some even apply wood strips. Because most hot air machines use an overhead belt feed rather than a drag chain, panel movement side to side is normal while trimming and thus you will never get a finished edge that does not require some type of hand work.

Take a look at the Adwood Bryko for less than 15K.

From contributor U:
I'm not going to say anything more on the glue pot machine - other than I agree whole heartedly. If you think the cost is prohibitive for your volume of work, you have provided your own answer - there is no one in your area who can provide the service. The time you are going to save will allow you to provide the service to others and still maintain your own volume of work. You buy it, let someone else pay for it.

From contributor S:
When I asked the question re glue pot, I was not being specific enough, I know what you mean by a hot air unit, not worth the time. I was implying a cartridge system along with a glue pot. Two different systems, and superior to any hot air unit, I have a cartridge system and find it better than a glue pot unit, nothing really to clean other that the dosing rod every couple months or so.

From contributor L:
Glue pot vs. cartridge. I don't have a cartridge but I have a pot. Here's what I learned about my pot and bander.

1. Turn it off if you aren't using it. The glue cooks. It loses its elasticity and becomes sludge.

2. Weekly, and I mean weekly, scrape the burnt crap off the machines auger area.

3. Learn to take it apart and clean it.

4. Use the recommended glue for the machine- this is imperative. Call the manufacturer and use only what is recommended. I have only run Jowat through mine, and a lot of others say Dorus would be much better.

5. Stop filling the pot. Fill only enough to keep from running the auger dry. This keeps fresh glue in the mix, and keeps the burnt crisps shit away.

6. Change the cutters out frequently and keep them sharp.

From contributor P:
It's easy to base opinions on old technology or poor technology from 10 or 20 or 30 years ago. Just as the automotive industry is continuously improving so do edgebander manufactures. Brandt, Scmi, Biesse, Cehisa, IDM, Holmeg and even many of the HolzHer machines used in Germany use a roller and pot for a reason and not because of patients. I'm not kicking the cartridge system and if it's what you like then ok but it has plusses and minuses just like a pot and roller. We could talk this thing to death but unless you compare the machines built over the last five years then you will not get real picture.

1. The roller/pot machines of today are equipped with digital temperature controls. This gives a very precise temperature for the glue but more important it has features like auto temperature drop when not in use and it also makes heating elements last about three times longer.

2. Pot/roller systems are coated with a non-stick coating for easy cleaning.

3. Improvements in glue products have come a long way. You now have non-filled glues. The filler when heated for long periods of time is the residue that you see left in a pot.

4. It was stated earlier by keeping a better glue level in the pot allows less cooking time before use and fresh product to be added more often.

5. There are even cleaning products out there that reduce the labor involved when it is time to clean.

6. Education has improved with those who maintain the equipment.

As stated earlier there is some cleaning involved with the Cartridge system but it's not as in depth just more frequently. The other thing to consider is the cost of parts replacement cost over a ten year period and can you get aftermarket replacement parts.

Lastly if you check glue product prices with several suppliers you will find that granular glue for a pot/roller averages about a dollar less per lb than Cartridge (and it's the same product). What does this mean? 1 lb of hotmelt will band on average 300 lineal feet of edgebanding on 3/4" substrate.

From contributor M:
I too am a one man shop and just went through the same thing as you. I decided upon a used glue pot machine. I bought an SCM K201 that needed a little work. Few hours and a couple hundred bucks and it works perfect. The glue pot machines typically have higher feed speeds so you get your work done faster. The tape for the gluepot machines is less expensive. The gluepot machine allows you to run HPL etc. As you can tell, I also recommend a gluepot, or HolzHer cartridge machine. When shopping for a machine, pay particular attention to minimum panel length, and minimum panel width. You need to be sure that you will be able to run your common parts through without having to cut to width after banding, or manually trim the tape to length.

From contributor L:
Reader response is overwhelming for a glue pot machine - same for me. If you take care of your machine properly the pot is no big deal to keep working well. HH machines with cartridges work fine for lighter duty (one man shops, thin materials, low feed rates.) They may be better now but when we used one it couldn't melt fast enough to keep up with 1.5" panels. Any decent bander can put on PVC and not require much if any hand work. Our current machine automatically lowers the pot/tower temperature if no panels are fed for a short time. It also keeps the pot filled to the same level so you don't get problems with charring on the sides and you don't have the glue in the pot very long because it automatically keeps the relatively small pot filled with pre-melted glue. When you get a bander, new or used its worth having a qualified person help you get started. Banders are simple machines when you break them down into their various sub assemblies. They do require thinking to get the most out of them. Even the small ones are very productive and can do a good job, but, they don't have brains so the operator needs one!

From contributor P:
I have a Minimax ME15, about five years old. It works fine on real wood tape. On PVC it has a tendency to pre melt the PVC and so clog the feed track. It's a hot air machine. I like the four to five minute warm up period.