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Välinge makes significant investments in new flooring concepts

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Viken, Sweden—Välinge Innovation will add further capacity for development and production of its powder-based flooring concepts. The new investment includes additional 4,000 square meters to the current R&D center as well as a new production line.

Välinge’s flooring concepts with the surface technologies Nadura and Woodura combine high impact and wear resistance with new design possibilities. The demand for these floors around the world has steadily increased. As a result, Välinge has decided to invest in additional production capacity.

The new production line is scheduled to open during the first quarter of 2017 and will include equipment for wood surface treatment and also digital printing to maximize flexibility and facilitate development of new products.

“We want to help our present and potential customers introduce these exciting products to the market before eventually fully taking over the production themselves,” said Niclas Håkansson, Välinge’s CEO.

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Välinge introduces Flexdura

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 10.36.07 AMViken, Sweden—Välinge Group has developed Flexdura, a new floor covering based on powder technology in which a waterproof thermoplastic core is combined with a high quality surface comprising thermosetting melamine resins.

The new Flexdura floor is an alternative to LVT and ceramic tiles. Its major advantages are cost efficient production combined with superior surface and core properties allowing the formation of strong locking systems for floating installations.

“Moisture resistant cores with digitally decorated powder-based surfaces with better properties than conventional products on the market is the main focus of the Välinge Group development when it comes to new flooring solutions,” said Darko Pervan, Välinge’s CEO. “Välinge Invest AB is installing new advanced digital printers and pressing equipment which will be used to optimize production costs and product properties.”

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Välinge successfully defends patent

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 3.42.06 PMViken, Sweden — Välinge successfully defended the European Patent No. 1 108 529 against the opposition filed by Flooring Industries Limited, SARL (the IP company of Unilin) in the oral proceedings on Oct. 14, 2014, before the Opposition Division. The patent is thereby maintained as granted after the opposition proceedings. According to Välinge, the patent was originally filed by Mannington Mills, Inc. and relates to resilient floor panels.

The Opposition Division decided in the oral proceedings to reject all grounds of the opposition filed by the opponent, and declared that claim 1 of the patent as granted is novel and involves an inventive step. The patent is thereby maintained as granted after the opposition proceedings, Välinge reported.

The “Välinge-Mannington EP529” patent relates to a thermoplastic laminate plank having a core, a print layer and a protective layer, wherein the core has a groove located on a side of the core, according to the company. Thereby, the patent is relevant for thermoplastic floorings having any kind of connection means comprising a tongue and groove.

Flooring Industries Limited, SARL, can appeal the decision of the Opposition Division.

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New wrinkles enhance locking systems

September 15/22, 2014; Volume 28/Number 7

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 11.42.36 AMSpecialty retailers often cite ease of installation as one of the major benefits of laminate floors, particularly in comparison to other types of products. Indeed, the innovation of locking systems over the past decade has greatly simplified the installation process, allowing these floors to be used immediately, without the need for cleanup.

“Locking systems are a critical item,” said Derek Welbourn, CEO of Inhaus, the North American arm of global conglomerate Classen. “If you don’t have a very good locking system, people aren’t going to use your product. At the very least you need a good locking system today, and the fact is most everyone has one, which has leveled the playing field.”

Following is an update on the latest advancements in laminate locking systems.

Uniclic

Unilin’s patented Uniclic glueless installation locking system helped transform the laminate flooring industry in 1997. Prior to Uniclic, all laminate flooring required planks to be glued down during installation.

Roger Farabee, senior vice president of marketing for Unilin, said flooring dealers are building their laminate programs around products that use the Uniclic system. “Retailers are able to emphasize Uniclic as an advantageous selling point when talking with customers. The Uniclic joint consistently performs better on standing water and pre-tension strength tests than other laminate, which results in Mohawk, Quick-Step and Columbia having one of the lowest claims rates in the industry.”

With Uniclic, planks click into each other to form a solid, lasting connection that also provides superior water resistance between planks.

Farabee said another advantage is Uniclic allows Quick-Step planks to click together using one of two methods: an angle-in or flat installation. “The dual-installation options of Uniclic are important because real-life installations will almost always involve installing flooring in some type of trapped situation (i.e., under a door jamb, toe kick or recession/undercut such as a fireplace), and Uniclic provides that flexibility.”

Bill Renner, installation manager for Unilin, said Quick-Step floors with the Uniclic locking profile are also easy to repair using UniFix, a tool that makes removal of a single plank or replacement of a damaged section easier and more time efficient.

Välinge 5G

Laetitia Kimblad, business unit director of surface technology for Välinge, said since 2000, locking systems that utilize angling/angling as well as angling/snap installation have progressively been replaced by the fast and easy single-action installation method, such as that offered by Välinge’s 5G locking systems.Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 2.39.47 PM

Kimblad called 5G “the easiest, fastest and most robust way to install laminate flooring.” The panels are installed in a single movement by angling the long side and folding the panel down. A flexible and displaceable glass-fiber reinforced polymer tongue secures the installation, locking the product vertically and providing a visible and audible feedback when folding down the panel. As of today, Välinge counts over 80 5G licensees worldwide, and more than 700 million square meters of flooring with 5G/fold down systems have been installed since the product was first launched in 2005.

“The simplicity of the 5G laminate locking system presents great advantages for installers as well as for DIY consumers,” Kimblad said. “5G reduces the risk of accidentally damaging products during installation as this could happen earlier on panel edges when snapping boards together. It also decreases the risk of gap openings and height differences that may occur on panels equipped with other locking systems.”

Välinge has also developed an optimized 5G tongue, which offers high locking strength and easy installation for thin laminate flooring down to 6mm.

Inhaus

Megaloc is Inhaus’ fold-down locking system for laminate flooring installation. The system features an interlock clip (a PET plastic insert) that, once locked into position, prevents the short ends of the planks from lifting after installation.

The advantage of Megaloc, which is used on all Inhaus laminate products, is its ability to be manufactured efficiently in a highly automated process in products as thick as 7mm. “We work on this all the time,” Welbourn said. “We have all the equipment in our factory that tests joint strengths, and we are tweaking the locking system all the time. Sometimes it leads to a breakthrough.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 2.39.38 PMAlthough new to the industry, the Megaloc system is now being used by some of the industry-leading LVT companies. “It makes sense as it improves the joint holding strength and improves ease of installation,” Welbourn said.

Newcomers

Innovations4Flooring, a new technology company that markets two types of locking systems—called TripleLock and Click4U—said it has received 11 license agreements since entering the market in June.

TripleLock and Click4U use a drop-lock installation technique for flooring panels, eliminating the need for an additional insert on the short side. This omission gives manufacturers the ability to improve productivity levels as well as reduce their costs and carbon footprint, according to John Rietveldt, CEO of Innovations4Flooring.

Several international patent applications have been filed for both products. “With some important patents soon to expire, our drop lock, one piece offers the industry a faster, more cost-effective way to manufacture environmentally friendly solutions in a sustainable way,” Rietveldt said. “And in a highly competitive market, the introduction of a drop-lock solution on the short side means that installation for end users is significantly facilitated.”

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Välinge awarded U.S. patent

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 9.45.10 AMViken, Sweden – Välinge said it has been awarded a U.S. patent regarding mechanical locking of LVT/resilient floorboards.

The patent protects methods for assembling resilient floorboards provided with a mechanical locking system by using the resiliency of the floorboard.

By upwardly bending a first floorboard at its first edge such that the first edge is curved, locking is facilitated and the force required to lock the floorboard with an adjacent floorboard is reduced.

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Välinge adds Windmöller as licensee

valinge logoViken, Sweden — Välinge and Windmöller have signed a global license agreement that gives the German producer the right to produce and sell products using the Välinge patent protected locking system for its resilient products with a glueless click system.

This agreement was preceded by a settlement between Välinge and Windmöller related to the angling system used on the Wineo resilient products with mechanical locking. It does not refer to other features of luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) with click system that have also been developed and protected by Windmöller.

“Välinge and Windmöller see this agreement as a first step to a long term partnership and cooperation,” said Per Nygren, executive vice president marketing at Välinge. “Windmöller is an innovative company who has been a pioneer in glueless LVT and has played an important role in the development and initial commercialization of this new flooring category.”

Välinge’s 5G fold down installation has had a major impact since being introduced. More than 7.5 billion square feet equipped with 5G/fold down systems have been sold worldwide.

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Välinge to extend holographic label system

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 4.20.38 PMViken, Sweden — Välinge said it plans to expand the scope of its L2C holographic label system during 2014.

Since the launch of the holographic label system in late autumn 2012, starting in China, Välinge has agreed with its Chinese licensed partners, to attach a unique holographic label with a specific serial number on each box of products that is manufactured and sold under a license from Välinge.

As previously announced, any products covered by the system that are manufactured and sold without the appropriate label are considered as un-licensed and infringing products.

The launch of the holographic label system has been successful and Välinge is satisfied with the results achieved so far. Välinge said it believes the system will help prevent the existence of un-licensed products and generate fair market terms protecting the interests of Välinge’s licensed partners as well as other actors doing business with products manufactured by Välinge’s licensees.

In accordance with information previously announced, Välinge has decided to extend the scope of the label system. The intention is to extend the label system to also cover additional production regions before the end of 2014 in order to further increase the actions against patent infringements. The new production regions to be covered by the system will be announced soon.

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Välinge introduces high-speed Powder Backing line

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 4.20.38 PMViken, Sweden — Välinge’s new high-speed Powder Backing line in the R&D Center in Viken demonstrates the full cost saving potentials that can be created by the wood powder technology on laminate and nadura products.

The Powder Backing technology is already successfully used in the production lines at Välinge and MeisterWerke. Välinge’s latest high-speed Powder Backing line is taking the technology to the next level, proving it for high production speed. “We have been running extensively our new Powder Backing line at 30 meter/min”, says Peter Wingårdh, senior project manager at Välinge Innovation

By replacing the backing paper by a fiber and binder mixture, the cost for the balancing layer of the floor boards can be significantly reduced. More than cost savings, the Powder Backing technology opens up new opportunities for more flexible and environmental friendly manufacturing process.

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Resilient: Cutting-edge products ignite 2014's trending category

Feb. 17/24 2014, Volume 27/number 21

By Jenna Lippin

(Second of two parts)

Resilient products had a major presence across the expanse of the two Surfaces halls. Some come from familiar names, while others are new to the category, seeking to capitalize on this segment’s ever-increasing popularity. And, thanks to advanced technology, products within the category mimic natural visuals, adding to resilient’s appeal. Introductions from the larger resilient suppliers appeared in the Feb. 3/10 issue of FCNews; the remainder follows.

Happy Feet

Celebrating its first anniversary and second Surfaces appearance, Happy Feet is building its brand on customer service and extensive, readily available inventory, according to Casey Johnson, president.Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 3.46.16 PM

The Iron Man collection features a 3mm dryback product with an antimicrobial, anti-slip, anti-scratch polyurethane finish. And, with six new colors and a beveled edge, Johnson believes Iron Man is the “best value in the marketplace for commercial use with its 15-year warranty.”

With the LVT Stone line, Happy Feet has added three colors in a 12 x 24 click tile. “We’re trying to emulate the stone look, but the nice thing about LVT Stone is the labor is a third of the price [of the real thing],” Johnson explained. “Plus, you can take it up without a challenge.”

Home Legend

The main LVT attraction at the Home Legends space was Nú Elements, a luxury vinyl line of tiles and planks that has been enhanced with 12 new colorways streamlined from its original 20 visuals. “The original line did well, but there were a few [designs] that weren’t such good sellers,” explained Tiffany Davis, marketing brand and product manager. “We’re hearing from retailers that gray—especially lighter grays— are big sellers.”

Along with the patented floating click-lock technology installation system, each design includes a 20 mil wearlayer, which means they can all be used in commercial applications. Nú Elements has a 25-year residential warranty, 10-year light commercial and 5-year standard commercial.

“This collection is ready to ship,” Davis added. “Retailers have already gotten samples, and we’ve taken some orders at the show. We’ve gotten good feedback with our new products.”

MP Global Products

While MP Global is known primarily for its underlayment, the company was alaso showcasing its Luxury Vinyl Flooring (LVF) collection along with its Perfectly Warm Floating Floor Heat.

Launched in early 2013, LVF is available in plank (wood) and stone visuals, both in 2mm, 3mm, 4.2mm and 5mm thicknesses. Planks come in a variety of wood looks, all measuring 6 x 36. The 2mm and 3mm options are gluedown, while 4.2mm and 5mm feature locking technology. Each plank includes five layers: a balanced backer, recyclable core, decorative design, wearlayer and UV coating. The 4.2mm and 5mm options include a reinforced fiberglass sheet for dimensional stability.

Stone visuals are 2mm and 3mm thick; the 12 x 12 tiles feature dryback installation, while 4.2mm and 5mm are 12 x 24, feature locking technology and a fiberglass layer. All selections include a 12 mil wearlayer except the 5mm, which offers a 20 mil wearlayer. Matching moldings for MP Global’s LVF are available for 4.2mm and 5mm constructions.

Also highlighted at Surfaces was Perfectly Warm Floating Floor Heat. The thin, flexible radiant heating product warms floating floors with low energy consumption. With an easy three-step process, Perfectly Warm is an appropriate choice for floating laminate and floating wood floors, engineered and solid wood floors, SnapStone, ceramic tile, porcelain tile, cork and bamboo. It cannot be installed under carpet, vinyl, or glued or nailed hardwood floors.

Raskin Industries

The success of Raskin’s Elevations Floors, released in 2011, has led the company to take the wraps off Loft by Elevations, a new LVT with loose lay technology and Gravity Grip non-skid backing. The line includes 6 x 48 planks and 18 x 18 tiles.

“Distributors have been asking for a product like Loft,” said John Hunter, national sales manager. “They’ve all enthusiastically committed to the product once they saw it. The benefit to them is it captures more residential consumers, where Elevations has had a strong penetration in the commercial markets.”Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 3.49.44 PM

Loft features several installation options, including grouted, edge-to-edge, gluedown or loose lay. “The consumer has options from one retail store display,” Hunter added. “Loft is priced competitively so that it hits the magic price points for distributors to sell.”

Another Surfaces highlight for the company was Loom Plus, a woven vinyl product with Raskin’s Gravity Grip system. “It’s the same size as Elevations, so you can mix it,” Hunter said. “This is a product everyone has been gravitating toward. One dealer from the Pacific Northwest said he came specifically to the show to look for woven vinyl.” Loom will be ready to ship in the second or third quarter of 2014.

Välinge

The Sweden-based company continues to gain popularity thanks to its numerous licensing agreements and product innovations. At Surfaces, Välinge highlighted its locking systems for resilient floors.

“[Resilient products] are very sensitive to temperature, and LVT is especially sensitive to light or heat,” explained Laetitia Kimbland, key account and product manager. The company’s 2G and 5G locking systems “give very good strength horizontally, so you don’t get ugly openings or any height differences.”

Also helping the company earn recognition is its ACTiO2 technology for hard surface floors, more notably used by Lauzon in its Pure Genius “smart” hardwood floor.

ACTiO2 is a compound containing titanium dioxide, that, when activated by light, helps break down organic substances including VOCs and bacteria, thus creating a better indoor environment.

“People buy flooring for aesthetic reasons, but a surface should also be selected for functional reasons, like creating a better indoor environment,” Kimbland said. “ACTiO2 has been used on ceramic tiles and outside applications for a while, but now we want to bring it indoors. We are licensing this technology to help people start utilizing it.”