MicroSlat NEWS: MDF prices soaring

MicroSlat NEWS: MDF prices soaring

THE rising price of MDF and chipboard is narrowing the price gap between wood chip and extruded aluminium-based slatwall display systems, according to one of the UK’s leading manufacturers.

Although there is still a price disparity between the aluminium slatwall system manufactured by Darlington-based MicroSlat and MDF alternatives, company managing director Terry Dady believes environmental factors are playing into his hands.

“The price of MDF is rising,” he said. “We believe that will make our systems, which use extruded aluminium, more attractive to new customers.”

Government subsidies for new biomass power stations, which consume wood chip and other by-products, have driven up the cost of MDF products.

The MicroSlat flexible display system is entirely made from extruded aluminium. Mr Dady says there are other advantages to using MicroSlat that are not possible with MDF chipboard, including greater flexibility, strength and longevity. MicroSlat is also water and fire retardant as well as offering an end- of-life return on investment.

Since MicroSlat was launched in 1998 it has been used by some of the biggest names on the High Street including EE, 3 Mobile, Hamleys and Harrods. The product is purpose-designed to accommodate industry standard slat wall metal and acrylic accessories and is available in both single and double sided formats.

The modular design means MicroSlat can be used for limitless applications. The extruded sections can be wall-mounted or free-standing. They can also be used as dividing wall panels in open-plan offices using their innovative interlocking design and bespoke connectors and trims.

MicroSlat offers display solutions for retail, office, exhibitions and libraries as well as offering designers’ unparalleled flexibility to create their own bespoke displays.

All-aluminium construction makes MicroSlat far stronger than the cheaper MDF alternative. Companies wanting to strengthen and improve the look of MDF chipboard slatwall by laminating it will discover the price difference when installed is negligible.

Mr Dady explained: “Of course, you can fit MDF slatwall with aluminium inserts for added strength, but there’s a cost to that, and also an increased installation cost that brings the fitted price ever closer to our product.

“Customers need to consider the “on-the-wall” price not the “on-the-shelf” price. For somebody to get MDF to look something like an aluminium panel they have to add an aluminium laminate, aluminium inserts  and a balance laminate on the back to stop the board warping.

“A MicroSlat 2m by 1m panel costs approximately £200. An MDF sheet with plastic inserts is about £100 to fit. As soon as you add the inserts and the balance laminate it’s about the same price anyway. Yes, you can have an MDF panel that looks like MicroSlat but, at the end of the day it will still be MDF and the pitch can only go down to 50mm.”

Aluminium is also naturally fire retardant and water resistant. “For places like garden centres, where there is a high likelihood of the product coming into contact with moisture, this product is far more effective than MDF,” he added.

MicroSlat has other benefits, too. It can be re-used, re-purposed, powder coated or re-cycled. “The end-of-life value is at least 10% as scrap. How many times have you seen an empty shop that’s still filled with MDF slat wall? That wouldn’t happen with MicroSlat.”

And with the cost of MDF set to soar even higher, Mr Dady believes his company is poised to grab an even larger slice of the market.

The business is already booming. Turnover more than doubled from 2011 to 2012 and is on course to grow further in 2013.

MicroSlat also exports its products across the globe and has ambitious plans for the American market.

MicroSlat is based at Units F13 and F14, Morton Park Way, Darlington. Tel: 01325-351276.



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