Interview by raumprobe
From solving a burning problem
Interview with Rolf van den Berg and Elli André of DI Dekodur International
Founded in 1846 as the first veneer factory in Germany, the South Hessian company DI Dekodur International has developed into an HPL specialist and looks back on over 150 years of company history. At the beginning of the year, his materials were used in the newly opened Jung und Sexy - a small, fine café in Stuttgart's Bohnenviertel district designed by Studio Komo. We are going to search for clues and take a closer look at the company DI Dekodur International.
What does the name DI Dekodur International stand for?
DI stands for Dekodur International /
Dekodur consists of
Dur: thermosetting material, hard, resistant, durable.
Our core competence: HPML (high pressure metal laminates with deep embossings)
You are a worldwide distributing manufacturer of HPL laminates with various decors. How has your product portfolio developed in the 150 years of company history?
In 1846, Johann Ludwig André founded the Gebrüder André sawmill, from which the first veneer factory in Germany was created in 1851. More than one hundred years later, Marc Anton André founded the company Dekorplattenwerk Hirschhorn and already in the following year the first decorative laminate board with a layer of real metal (real copper) was produced. A material mix in design and structure followed. Genuine metal surfaces in aluminium, stainless steel, brass and tin-look were an integral part of the production of decorative high-pressure laminates. Since then there have been important milestones that have shaped the history of Dekodur.
Dekoart art concept and Unique art - hand-made motifs in melamine and copper by artists brought art into everyday life. Each plate is unique. This was followed by translucent laminate panels, which lent a special touch to lighting architecture and set accents in rooms. The bark cloth, extracted from the African fig tree - the production of which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO - was now the surface material for the Dekowood bark cloth product group. The connection to nature was created. This was followed by the world's first CO2-neutral laminate board, free of formaldehyde and phenol. Eco-HPL was born.
AGT (Anti Ghosting Touch) stands for a new surface within the dekopin product range (magnetic HPL). The matt surface can be written on with a board marker and then wiped dry without leaving any residue. The Magic Touch product group convinces with very special features: a horizontally usable, scratch-resistant, abrasion-resistant laminate with anti-fingerprint properties. Also available with antibacterial properties on request.
Deko Firesafe - a non-flammable laminated board in a composite - revolutionizes the market and fire protection takes on a new meaning. In 2019 the new collection of DI Dekodur International with the certified and patented non-flammable laminate is created.
These were just a few highlights. We are looking forward to the future!
From a layman's perspective: paper soaked in resin, pressed together under pressure - is HPL that easy?
HPL consists of layered cellulose fibre webs (paper) impregnated with thermosetting resins. The top layer is impregnated with melamine resin and has decorative colours or print designs. Instead of the paints or print designs, thin metal foils can also be used, which are protected against external influences by appropriate surface treatment. The core layers are impregnated with phenol and melamine resin. After curing, these resins become thermosetting plastics. Melamine resins cure to form transparent, light-resistant, scratch-resistant and hard coatings. They are ideally suited as a surface layer of HPL. When heat and pressure are applied, the resins flow and then cure so that the paper layers are joined to form a homogeneous material. The result is a raw material with a closed surface.
Your product portfolio is optically diversified, so are your references. Is there a reference project of which you are particularly proud?
Every project is exceptional in its own way. To name a few, though:
> Wilmersdorfer Arkaden / balcony and escalator cladding in decorative Firesafe D 061 in combination.
> Hybrid Tower Frankfurt / One floor in aluminium scratch-resistant A 356 in deco Firesafe
> Technical University Braunschweig / Ceiling installation in Deko Firesafe in D 070
> State theatre in Stuttgart in decoration Firesafe
> Hotel in Trinidat Tobaco / Reception Installation in fossil / Amber HPL (T 320)
> Sanitary facilities Sanifair in service areas in the Netherlands in dekoart art concept with hand-painted artist motifs according to the ideas of architect Sarah Rosenthal
> Artists' motifs in copper - especially for the Asian market - in dekoart unique art, a play of colours achieved by oxidation
> slot machines in casinos in USA in decorial starline A 211 mirror gold and A 210 mirror silver
You offer HPL laminates with so-called artist motifs in copper. What is this all about and how does the cooperation with the artists develop? For what use are these special decors intended?
The cooperation with the artists already started in the 1980s. The vision was and is not only to make art accessible to a special interest group, but to integrate art into everyday life and into the lives of all people. This is how the series dekoart - art embedded in HPL was created. These laminate panels are intended for individual interior design and can also be used to realize projects in the corporate identity colors of the respective interested parties (e.g. Postbank, Lufthansa, etc.).
> Dekoart Art Concept: artist motifs in melamine
In addition to the HPL surfaces, your product deko-FireSafe also offers a non-flammable composite. How did this product solution come about?
There is an EN standard EN 13501-1, which stipulates that only "non-combustible materials" may be used in certain construction phases of large buildings where many people are present (escape routes, high-rise buildings, hospitals, airports). At the same time, however, there are also construction phases within the same project that do not necessarily have to meet these requirements. Here the fire protection classes "normally flammable" or "hardly flammable" come into play.
Who can currently supply a product that meets the "non-combustible" specification in a construction phase with the same decoration as that which is classified as "flame-retardant" and "normally flammable"? How do you put the decoration that you have made in the flame-retardant or normal flammability sections on a substrate that does not burn?
This is now possible with our deko FireSafe® patent. With this innovation we have the possibility to coat any substrate that is not flammable - with the same decor as in the other fire protection class areas. So suddenly we have not only a material composite but also a decor composite. With our invention we now have the possibility to cover a complete decor composite in all construction projects. We solve a burning problem of architects!
Since May of this year you offer a 5 year warranty on all your products. How does this strong promise to architects and consumers come about?
In order to assure the customer that our material meets the highest standards, we would like to offer this guarantee if our products are processed professionally. We have learnt that small and medium processors may have a burning problem.
In construction contracts (VOB) with their customers, our processors commit themselves to warranty periods of up to 5 years. Also, in order to receive the final payment our fabricators usually have to bring a bank guarantee to get the last 10% of the contract amount. As a supplier, we as a company that is customary in the industry today only offer a warranty of 12 to max. 24 months. This is a great burden for our customers. In order to convey to our customer that we accompany him on this way, we have decided to offer a 5-year manufacturer’s warrenty.
With the Café Jung & Sexy we recently opened a project where your products have been installed. Would you like to have a look at the realized references in person?
We are always in contact with our customers and always follow their projects with interest. Picture © Studio Komo
Material you need:
Paper, fibreglass panels and resin - for a clean surface
Material that moves you:
expanded glass (A2-S1-D0)
Material you dream about:
deko FireSafe® lightest plate in the world. Vermiculite panel: 800 kg/m³ (for shipbuilding) / Promat 1300 kg/m³, expanded glass: 550 kg/m³
DI Dekodur International developed the first HPL with a decorative real metal surface in the 1950s in copper, aluminum (up to aluminum mirrors), stainless steel and tin and has been a leader in this technology ever since. The company also offers extremely deep structures on HPL, translucent HPL, as well as decorative HPL individually designed by artists, where each panel is unique. Other special features include a laminated panel made from the bark of the fig tree (bark cloth) and a CO2-neutral laminated panel (Eco HPL), which is free of formaldehyde and phenol.
The people behind it are:
Rolf van den Berg, CEO (picture left)
Elli André, Executive Marketing (picture right)
and approx. 70 employees
decorative high-pressure laminates with a surface of real metal (in a wide variety of embossing) and melamine (plain colours, fantasy, wood and stone decors)