When it comes to dispatch console furniture, it is important to consider the surface edge type. The surface edge is one of the first interfaces a dispatcher has with their console and it is a common rest for elbows and forearms. It is also often bumped by chairs. A failing edge can be uncomfortable and unsightly. In severe cases, a failing edge can take a console position off-line until it is repaired.

Edges are a High Contact Area on Dispatch Consoles

dispatch-console-furniture-edges-should-be-comfortable-and-durableSince console work surfaces are in constant use, durability and comfort are of utmost importance.

The console surface is going to get cleaned with harsh chemicals, potentially scratched and spilled upon. And while it would be ideal if everyone’s posture is 100% ergonomically correct 100% of the time, it is an unrealistic expectation. When dispatchers are sitting at your console for long hours, their posture is going to change periodically and there will be times when they are resting your forearms on the worksurface edge.

A quick image search of dispatch centers, with console furniture provided by various manufacturers, reveals common posture with forearm and wrist contact with the surface.

dispatchers-console-furniture-ergonomics-habits-wrist-resting-on-edge

 

Dispatch Console Furniture Edge Experts

Our team has been manufacturing mission critical products for more than 50 years. Our experience includes mastery of wood and wood-composite products and finishing with high-pressure and low-pressure laminates and various edge materials including Direct Injection Molding, T-Edge, Banding, and 3D Laminate.

Here’s what we have learned along the way:

• Not all edge types perform equally on horizontal surfaces
• No edge is “seamless” (and why it matters)
• Certain edges meet ergonomic needs, feel good, look great and perform best in mission critical environments

4 Common Dispatch Console Furniture Edges

Not all edge types are equal. Some are more durable. Some are more comfortable. And some measure high in both areas. Here is what you should know about the durability and comfort of four commonly used edge types.

 

#1 Direct Injection Molded Urethane

dispatch-console-furniture-with-Injection-Molded-Edge-Russ-BassettDirect Injection Molded Urethane is known for unparalleled durability.

This softened urethane is injected into a mold that is clamped to the surface and held until cured to create a liquid-tight seal. The liquid urethane penetrates the fibers of the substrate before it cures. This means there is zero gap between the impact resistant edge and the surface – on both top and bottom.

The liquid-tight seal eliminates the place for microbial growth or moisture to accumulate making it ideal for high-traffic areas.

  • Water, coffee or cleaning agents will not accumulate or penetrate the seal
  • Adds user comfort by removing sharp corners
  • Resists chair nicks, scratches, cracks, and peeling
  • Semi-soft, impact, and puncture resistant
  • UV-stable and flame retardant
  • Integrally molded; completely sealed to the core

direct-injection-molded-urethane-edge-bonds-to-wood-substrateThis cross-section of the direct injection molded edge shows the contact point of the urethane and wood substrate. Direct Injection Molded Urethane edges are used broadly in high-traffic commercial environments that require ultra-durable materials.

Our Experience with Molded Urethane Edging: The injection molded urethane edge is THE top performer and used on our Flex consoles. Users find it comfortable and we have had zero customer service requests related to edge damage with hundreds of installations over a dozen years.

 

#2 T-Edge

t-edge-console-desk-edge-attachment-diagramT-Edge, or T-Molding, is available as PVC, ABS and other polymer variants. T-Edges are available in a variety of profile shapes, are comfortable and durable and used widely in commercial high-traffic applications, including dispatch console furniture. T-Edge is mechanically applied into a channel routed along the surface substrate, following the shaped profile of the wood core.

  • dispatch-console-furniture-with-t-edgeProvides a tight fit to the edge
  • Resists chair nicks, scratching and cracking
  • Increases user comfort by softening corners
  • Semi-soft, impact resistant
  • Edge material will not discolor
  • UV-stable and flame retardant

Our Experience with T-Edge: The T-Edge is a durable, comfortable, cost-effective solution for dispatch console furniture applications. 10-year-old Russ Bassett consoles with in-tact, undamaged T-Edge are still in use by PSAPs nationwide. In part, due to this track record of durable performance, we elected to finish the surface edge of our Define dispatch consoles with T-Edge.

 

#3 Edge Banding

application-edge-banding-on-console-furnitureEdge Banding is an extruded polymer, typically PVC or ABS, that is thermally fused to the surface substrate. A melted glue is applied to the board, then rollers press the banding onto the glued edge and the pressure is held until the glue cools. This is a durable edge. Commonly used thicknesses include 3mm and 1.5mm.

• Resists chair nicks, scratches, cracks, and peeling
• Semi-soft, impact, and puncture resistant
• Liquid tight seal
• UV-stable and flame retardant
• Impact resistance is high along edges that have minimal contact; poor along the surface edge that is exposed to daily operator contact

Our Experience with Edge Banding: We use this edge treatment for perimeter edges on consoles because it is durable and economical, a value to our customers. We do not use it on the front surface edge since top edge impact can damage it and customers have shared it is uncomfortable to rest against.

 

#4 3D Laminate

3D Laminate (also known commonly as thermafoil, Rigid Thermofoil, or RTF) is made from plastic polymer. Typically, a decorative membrane material is heated and molded over medium density fiberboard (MDF) using vacuum pressure. The result is a smooth surface that resists chipping.

  • Adds user comfort by removing sharp corners
  • Looks like a solid piece, eliminating the appearance of an edge
  • Eliminates concerns of food, dirt, and bacterial build-up on the top of the surface
  • UV-stable and flame retardant

3D-laminate trimming Unfortunately, the 3D Laminate Edge Process is not designed for horizontal surfaces in high-traffic environments where food and beverage are present. While it looks seamless, there actually is a seam. The vinyl follows all contours of the top until it reaches that bottom edge where it is trimmed off with a knife or router.

3d-laminate-prone-to-delamination-in-24/7-dispatchThe adhesion is achieved with temperature and pressure, a technology developed for vertical surfaces such as cabinet doors. The image at right shows the laminate being trimmed along the surface edge, after adhesion. Since the 3D Laminate Thermafoil cannot integrate with the core material for a secure connection, liquids such as chemical cleaners or spilled coffee will gather at that bottom corner where the very absorbent MDF core will soak it up and swell. This causes delamination of the vinyl.

For these reasons, as well as the fact that you can cut the vinyl with a knife, you will not see 3D Laminate on high-interface surfaces like kitchen counter tops.

 

Our Experience with 3D Laminate: We once offered the edge now commonly known as 3D Laminate on our console surfaces. While the edge had some advantages, it did not perform as expected in 24/7 mission critical environments, suffering premature failures. We made the easy decision to remove the edge from our offering and do right by our customers.

 

Why High Performance Edges Matter

As you know, the surface edge is one of the first interfaces your operators have with their dispatch consoles. A failing edge can be uncomfortable and unsightly. In severe cases, a failing edge can take a console position off-line. The high-contact point should be comfortable and durable, today and ten years from now.

We encourage your teams to ask potential console furniture suppliers about their console surface edge, materials, application process, and performance. Here is a list of questions to get you started.

  • What type of edge do you use? Why?
  • How long have you been working with this edge type?
  • For all edge types – Direct Injection Molding, T-Edge, Banding, 3D Laminate edge – what is the adhesion process?
  • Since it is not broadly used, how long has your oldest 3D laminate customer had their furniture?
  • What service issues related to edging have you encountered in the customer’s second half of life of their console furniture (years 7-15)?

best-edges-for-dispatch-consoles-console-furniture-russ-bassett

 

References

More Console Furniture Resources