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Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
MDF is one of four main categories of wood-based panels - laminated boards, particle boards, fibre boards and oriented strand boards. These different types of boards are distinguished by the level of conversion of the wood raw material into veneers, particles or fibres. MDF is a type of fibreboard made from wood or other lignocelluloses materials, refined into fibres and reconstituted with a resin binder (glue) at high temperatures. The raw wood material can be in almost any form or species and in almost any mixture such as branches, small-diameter trees, hardwood, softwood, mill waste and forestry waste chips. As such, the recovery rate of the raw material is almost 100%.
In MDF, individual raw wood elements cannot be identified in the finished board. This is due to the creation process where wood fibres are combined with a wax and resin binder. MDF has a homogeneous structure with uniform texture and properties throughout. There are no identifiable grains or knots seen at the edge, end or face nor any internal voids or pits or variation in surface hardness.
MDF is easier to machine than natural wood and can be laminated and painted to produce almost any board finish. It can be sawed and shaped very evenly and smoothly - a process which cannot be achieved to the same degree with particle boards. MDF can be nailed, stapled, routed, sanded and screwed just like any natural wood product. It has the mechanical and physical characteristics approaching the levels associated with solid wood, and in many applications can be used as an ideal substitute for solid wood. MDF is particularly light in color which makes it especially easy to paint and permits the application of very thin laminates without the underlying board color darkening the laminate.
"MDF is resistant to warp, moisture and compression. It is dimensionally stable with close tolerances"
Thin MDF boards are an ideal alternative to plywood. Typical applications in furniture include drawer bottoms, backs of cabinets and centre panels in framed doors. In building interiors, thin MDF can be used for wall and ceiling panelling, partitioning, office screens, lightweight doors, exhibition panelling and as skins for flush doors. Given developments in High Moisture Resistant panel boards, MDF is finding growing markets for exterior applications as well. Thin MDF has found its way into novel applications such as shoemaking, motor vehicle interior parts, toys, printed circuit board production and blades for electric fans. Due to its excellent acoustic properties, MDF is also being successfully used in Hi-Fi equipment.
MDF can be machined into intricate patterns as easily as natural wood with the advantage of no grain telegraph.
Thick MDF boards can be used in building as architectural features such as columns and archways where the warp resistance, tensional stability, the screw holding strength and edge finishing characteristics of MDF make it a good substitute for solid wood. Thick MDF is used as a core substrate material for panelling with veneers, painted surfaces, vinyl and low-pressure laminates due to its dimensional stability and smoothness.
MDF is easily shaped into almost any form and is commonly available in lengths up to 16 feet and therefore an excellent material for finished interior mouldings. MDF has a good bonding strength and resistance to compression, and so can be finished by a variety of secondary processes such as flooring, partitions and tabletops. The complete versatility of MDF is yet to be utilized. How you use MDF is only limited by your imagination.