Theme: EB (Electron Beam) Technology
"Approaching technology with the consumer in mind ——Taking our environmentally conscious floor coverings to world markets"
Electron Beam (EB) coating technology is one of DNP’s core technologies. It allows us to instantly improve the durability of resins and coating films by exposing them to electron beams. We use this technology in the development of highly scratch-resistant, abrasion-resistant, and soil-resistant decorative sheet used as building material. Amid increasing awareness of the need to protect our global environment, DNP set about to develop decorative floor coverings made with environment-friendly resin films.
Using EB technology to develop environmentally conscious decorative sheets
A wood grain pattern emerges gradually as layers of color are overlaid in stages on resin film. In the mid-1990s, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) film printed with wood-grain patterns was widely used as decorative sheets in Japan. However, as plasticizers used in the manufacture of this sheet, as well as hydrogen chloride gas, dioxin, and other substances generated during burning of the sheet, were found to have damaging effects on the global environment and on people’s health, the development of PVC-free products has become an important issue.
Polyolefin is a kind of plastic that turns into mainly water and carbon dioxide when burned completely, with no hydrogen chloride or dioxin released. However, polyolefin film was problematic in that it is less durable than PVC film. By employing EB technology, it became possible to use polyolefin as PVC-free decorative flooring that resists scratches, abrasion, and dirt.
Composite flooring—consisting of decorative sheet laminated onto the surface of a base material (generally plywood or laminated timber)—is less susceptible to the sunburn or cracking that may appear in natural wood floors due to aging. Choosing composite flooring also makes it possible to obtain a desired quantity of flooring with a consistent color and pattern.
Demand for this type of environmentally conscious flooring material is now growing in parts of the world where there is a strong awareness of the need to preserve the global environment. However, flooring developed to Japanese specifications will not necessarily pass muster in other parts of the world. Especially in places like Europe or North America, where people wear shoes inside the house, a higher degree of resistance to scratching and wear is required compared to what suffices in Japan, where people generally do not wear shoes inside their homes. With that in mind, we first studied living environments and the way of life in Germany and other European countries, investigated flooring material requirements, and employed EB technology to meet the flooring quality standards established by the European Union. As a result, in 2015 a number of European companies began to use DNP’s PVC-free decorative sheet for flooring, and today it is sold in every European country. Sales of DNP’s EB products are also growing within Asia, and the distribution area is expanding. For example, EB products were introduced for sale in South Korea in 2016.
With full attention to both functionality and aesthetics, we venture into markets worldwide
In order for our highly durable, environmentally conscious decorative sheet to be accepted all over the world, we need continuous technological innovation along with novel ideas for making wood grain and other aesthetic designs. People tend to choose flooring materials based first of all on appearance. DNP’s surface design experts work the surface of the natural wood that we use as our “original manuscript” until it is smooth and polished, coat it, scan it, and use that data as the basis for designing natural wood grain patterns that evoke a pleasant sense of rhythm and balance in the eye of the viewer. Even among wood grain patterns, there are fashion cycles and fads. Recently, detailed and elegant patterns are in favor. One of our specialties is the fabrication of natural wood-like textures ranging from delicate, smooth surfaces to uneven surfaces with relief features.
Going forward, we plan to expand the lineup of more specialized designs with niche market appeal. In order to expand our PVC-free decorative sheet and other Living Spaces businesses, DNP will continue to build the brand value of its products and take on the challenge of entering world markets.