“This was the first project we’d used Lamello’s connectors on,” begins Peter Hillman, production manager at Deanhouse Interiors Ltd. “As well as doing the ground floor fit-out, we also had to supply and install all the fixtures and fittings in the hotel’s bedrooms, including 189 wardrobes.”
Peter and his team had to create high-specification fitted furniture that not only offered pleasing aesthetics but could also deliver on the strength and durability needed to sustain commercial use. Removable components needed to be integrated into the designs in order to retro-fit damaged parts in the future and, when faced with a 4 x 5 ft trade lift or nine flights of stairs, easy transport and simple, on-site assembly was key.
“Biscuits were simply not going to cut it,” admits Peter, when asked how he tackled the manufacturing and installation of the four-star hotel’s wardrobes. “Due to the bespoke nature of this project, the time-scale we were working to and limited access in and around the hotel, we needed to find an alternative that could work efficiently with our five-axis CNC machine.”
When it came to building the first sample room, Peter sourced some cheap connectors to see if they might offer a simple, automated solution. “We needed them to pull wardrobe panels together so we could do away with glues, clamps and screws, but it was clear they were not up to the job. They didn’t offer us any tolerance whatsoever. You only needed to be 0.2 mm out of a groove cut and they would not click together or if they did, there was an ugly gap between each panel. “Their thickness also posed a problem: we were working with 18 mm MDF boards and the connectors were measuring 14 mm thick and required a deep cutting depth. This caused a weakness in the board and reduced the strength of the panel.
"Lamello’s demonstration of its three and five-axis P-System range at Deanhouse’s factory in Honley couldn’t have come at a better time. “The difference in quality and strength was visible from the start and we knew that, not only could it shorten our current machining process and speed up production, it could work directly with our CAD/CAM software. It also offered us considerably more flexibility when it came to transporting and assembling volume items and because of the design of the connectors, they required a minimal cutting depth, offered a lateral tolerance, high clamping force and gave us a seamless join every time.”
The company needed to invest in two new tools before production could begin on its Morbidelli CNC. “We bought a disc cutter and a router cutter to profile grooves and reduce milling time. We also needed a 6 mm CNC drill bit to perform vertical and horizontal cuts but that’s standard on a fiveaxis CNC.
“At the same time, we upgraded our existing software package, which allowed us to programme the machine to position drill holes and process profile grooves on the surface and side of each panel, ready for the insertion of Lamello’s connectors (Clamex P detachable furniture connectors, Divario P self-clamping invisible connector for slide insertion and Tenso P selfclamping gluing aid). Peter says, “All I need is a geometry line from a drawing and I can add the necessary macros into it and input the tool path. From this, you know the CNC’s cutters will work at the correct speed and won’t burn out, guaranteeing a clean, accurate cut every time, even when working with solid woods and birch plywood. “It’s safe to say that you could easily triple your production rates if you’ve been using traditional joining techniques.” Transport and installation was also considerably quicker and more manageable. “We’d normally part-build furniture in our workshop before transporting it to site but space was at a premium.
“Lamello’s clever technology meant we could flat pack every wardrobe and build it on site without loosing any strength. You certainly couldn’t do that with a biscuit because once the glue joint is broken, it’s lost its strength.
“We would not have had the man-power, time or room to clamp each panel if we were to glue on site. It’s simplified the whole process, meaning we only needed semi-skilled workers putting each panel in place.” Clamex P connectors were favoured to hold the wardrobe’s carcasses in place because they offered precise on-site assembly, strength and durability. Panels could also be pre-installed with the connector for a speedy build. The Divario P connectors were used to slide and click shelves into place that may need to be removed at a later date, making volume work a cinch.
Peter adds: “Thanks to the timesaving benefits of using Lamello’s P-System on our CNC, one job has absorbed our cost of the new simultaneous software. “Lamello’s range has changed the way we approach our work and our clients were very happy with the results. “It’s also opened new doors for us and, whether we’re working on batch runs or one-off projects. Lamello’s fixings are now a staple tool in our workshop. “Partnered with our five-axis CNC, Lamello’s P-System connectors are a force to be reckoned with.”