Updated: May 4, 2020
An important part of any business is identifying trends and anticipating their overall impact on your industry. The ability to determine whether or not a particular change is a short-term fluke or the sign of a genuine shift in demand can be critical. For example,here at Collins Supply we have seen the slow-but-steady rise in many customers' preference for 1MM PVC edge banding instead of the usual .018 thickness. This is a trend that has been developing over the last 2 years and shows no signs of decreasing anytime soon. What is driving this preference and which customers are making this change ? First, let's look at some basics in terms of edge banding sizing.
For years, the most popular dimensions in PVC edge banding have fallen within a certain range for both width and thickness. In terms of width, the popular choices have been and remain, 15/16", 1-5/16", and 1-5/8". For thickness, the call is usually for one of the Big Four: .018 inch, 1MM, 2MM, or 3MM. Different jobs require different sized materials of course, and woodworkers can usually meet their clients' specifications with one of those four selections. For lighter use edges such as shelving and door boxes, the .018 (approximately .5MM) size is usually the preferred thickness. It is produced in great quantities to match most laminate colors available and the .018 X 15/16" size is an industry standard. For heavier use situations such as countertops and doors, the choices are often 3MM, with 2MM and 1MM being requested also. The durability of 3MM is hard to beat. The "daily use and abuse" of heavily-trafficked items like doors and countertops call for sturdy edge banding material and in general, the thicker the better.
About 2 years ago we began to notice a rise in the demand for 1MM edge banding. It was not a sudden or dramatic increase and to be clear, the .018 thickness continues to be a popular choice. But some of our .018 customers began to seek out their usual color choices in 1MM instead. When asked what made them change their mind, their reasons were both aesthetic and practical. Most of the woodworkers we have spoken with simply say the 1MM material lends itself to a smoother and more consistent finish. "It's just a more pleasing appearance", was how one of our longtime customers put it. He also added that 1MM is a bit more stable and easier to handle than the .018 thickness. Other customers have made the same observation that the extra heft provided by the approximately .5 MM additional thickness allows the tape to be fed into the edge bander at a steadier and more reliable pace. And all of them agree that any material that can perform reliably and consistently is a welcome addition to the workshop.
As I mentioned before, this has been a gradual but steady shift in purchasing preference. It doesn't represent a reversal or complete overhaul in the buying patterns of craftsmen who do business with us or anyone else. The traditional dimensions of .018 X 15/16" continue to be very much in demand and will be a regular stock item in the foreseeable future. However this slow but steady shift has not gone unnoticed. We currently have about 50 colors available in the 1MM thickness and are working with our manufacturer to ensure it is more readily available. If the demand for more 1MM material continues to expand, we will be right there to meet it.
- Dave Donovan