3D & 2D
Laminates

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Introduction

Two-dimensional laminates (2DL), three-dimensional laminates (3DL), and films are versatile surfaces for commercial and residential environments and offer excellent options for breadth of design, performance, and durability.

2DL and 3DL are made from thermoplastic films. 2DL is primarily used in flat lamination and profile wrapping of trim and moldings and is typically used with matching edgebanding to finish the laminated panel. 3DL is membrane pressed and provides end users the freedom to design components with contoured surfaces and seamless edges without requiring edge treatments. 2DL and 3DL are applied over a substrate like MDF or particleboard to create a panel or contoured component.

2DL is any film flexible enough to laminate in two dimensions, like crown molding or a flat surface. 2DL is primarily made from vinyl, which uses enough plasticizer to render the material flexible and ideal for a profile wrapping machine. The most common way to laminate moldings is with 2DL. The flexibility of 2D laminates puts less stress on the glue line between the substrate and the surface. In addition to vinyl, 2DL includes polyester saturated paper, polyester films (PET), light basis weight paper, decorative foils, and polypropylene films, all of which have excellent flexibility and two-dimensional characteristics.

Vinyl and other film-based 2DL have superior water, chemical, and scratch resistance and are often chosen for demanding applications where these performance qualities are needed. Based on the film type, 2DL may have an embossed surface for a realistic woodgrain tick or other unique embossed finish to the surface. Paper-based 2DL have varying degrees of durability and offer different finishes, including texture, to the surface through their topcoats.

2DL Attributes

2DL is any film flexible enough to laminate in two dimensions, like  crown molding or a flat surface. 2DL is primarily made from vinyl, which uses enough plasticizer to render the material flexible and ideal for a profile wrapping machine. The most common way to laminate moldings is with 2DL. The flexibility of 2D laminates puts less stress on the glue line between the substrate and the surface. In addition to vinyl, 2DL includes polyester saturated paper, polyester films (PET), light basis weight paper, decorative foils, and polypropylene films, all of which have excellent flexibility and two-dimensional characteristics.

Vinyl, and other film-based 2DL, have superior water, chemical and scratch resistance and are often chosen for demanding applications where these performance qualities are needed. Based on the film type, 2DL may have an embossed surface for a realistic woodgrain tick or other unique embossed finish to the surface. Paper-based 2DL have varying degrees of durability and offer different finishes, including texture, to the surface through their topcoats.

Bathroom Vanity
Kitchen Cabinetry

3DL Attributes

3DL is also known as rigid thermoformable foils (RTF) and, as the name implies, can be heated and formed over a three-dimensional substrate, generally MDF or particleboard. 3DL is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG), both of which are thermoplastics, meaning they soften when heated and retain the “rigid” three-dimensional shape when sufficiently cooled. The forming process occurs in a vacuum or membrane press around contoured components, including edges. 3DL can be miter folded and is available in 10 to 16 mils thicknesses.

Coatings on 3DL provide scuff- and chemical-resistant properties, are available in various gloss ranges and finishes, including soft touch, and can be fingerprint-resistant. Print fidelity for 3DL has improved dramatically over the years, offering very realistic simulations of the woodgrains, stone, and abstracts from which they are inspired. 3DL can be embossed and also offers Emboss-in-Register (EIR), where the embossing aligns precisely with the pattern, enhancing realism and making them an excellent match for TFL.

Applications

Retail

2DL Applications

Common uses for 2DL include recreational vehicle walls and ceilings, vertical surfaces for retail store fixtures and cabinets, commercial flooring, and residential components. Understanding your application needs and choosing the best 2DL product is essential. The specification of either film-based or paper-based 2DL will depend on the application’s durability, performance, and design requirements.

3DL Applications

3DL is resistant to impact, chipping, cracking, or breaking, making it a popular choice for retail store fixtures, displays, RV tables, and countertops. In addition, the contoured, continuous-formed component seals the substrate from bacteria and moisture, making it an increasingly popular choice in healthcare settings for bed tray tables, furniture, and cabinetry.

When used with routed MDF, 3DL can be formed into nearly any shape within a design specification, from letters and logos to raised panel and shaker cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and countertops. Due to their ability to wrap around custom shapes, edges, and contoured surfaces, designers often specify 3DL materials for POP displays, commercial hospitality components, and office furniture.

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