What makes good Rattan, Wicker and Bamboo Furniture?
We will try to shed some light to this question that many of our customers have asked us.
Rattans are the most important group of forest species after timber. Their growth is confined mainly to the tropical forests of South – East Asia, and they have been used for centuries by the people of that area for one purpose or another – from the making of household furniture, artifacts, and accessories to foot-bridges. The material also found its way into many other parts of the world, and there are records and examples of furniture made from it in ancient Egypt and later, during the renaissance period, in reigns of Louis XIII and Louis XV and Napoleon Bonaparte of France.
Today the rattan industry has become a multimillion dollar business and even though its roots still remain firmly embedded in villages and small – scale rural cottage-type activities, it generates employment for tens of thousands of people who harvest, process and shape it into a variety of end-products for home and export markets. World trade in raw rattan is in excess of $100 million and by the time the manufactured product reaches the ultimate consumer it has increased in value 100 fold.
The industry nevertheless remains highly labor intensive, despite introduction of some degree of mechanization and better production organization. In the processing and manufacturing aspects it is estimated that average investment per worker in a modern rattan factory is about $3,000, while that for a worker in a similar type conventional furniture plant about $20,000.
As interest in rattan and rattan products increases it is hardly surprising that the industry is attracting close attention, not only from national Governments in whose territory it forms an important natural resource but also from entrepreneurs and importers who recognize its potential ability and even research institutes that have finally come to acknowledge the need for more organized research and development on its behalf, especially in the fields of rattan cultivation and utilization.
Since a very large proportion of rattan is destined for the product of furniture, there is no reason why it should not benefit from association with its longer established counterpart, wood. Many of the production techniques, equipment and other raw materials developed by the latter could, with appropriate modifications, can be used to advantage in the manufacture of rattan furniture. At the same time, the inherent characteristic of the latter, especially its lightness, flexibility and durability, offer a unique opportunity to both the designer and production engineer to achieve an end-product incorporating shapes and forms denied to them in working with wood.
This, in turn, is enabling rattan furniture to carve a small though increasingly special place for itself in the most sophisticated of world markets, such as Japan, Korea, the United States, Canada and Europe, where it can command both exclusivity and a price range based on its own merits.
To turn out a well made piece of rattan, wicker or bamboo furniture under favorable conditions requires a smoothly running process where all moves are in gear with each other.
Most and the best of rattan found in the markets comes from plants growing in their natural habitat. Large-scale plantations are to be found in central Kalimantan in Indonesia, but these are usually confined to the smaller diameter canes known as Sika.
Germination takes place in 7 to 14 days and the seedlings are ready to be transplanted to the nursery when one month old, i.e. when each has produced one sucker, which is the beginning of an aerial stem. The first harvest is from 8 to 12 years after planting depending on soil quality and climate. Mature canes attain length of 15m, 18m or even 20m. During the harvest, which is done in the drier months, the top 2m are discarded. Wet months are generally unsuited for harvesting because of floods and the consequent difficulty of access to the growing areas.
Lengths into which the rattans are cut also vary according to the practice in different countries. In Indonesia, Calamus manna and Calamus scipionum are cut into 2-3m lengths. More slender canes such as Calamus Caesius and Calamus trachycoleus are cut into 5m to 7m pieces and bent in two. In the Philippines, rattans are cut in 3m to 6m lengths, bent sharply in the middle and tied in bundles for transport. This includes Tumalin (Calamus mindorensis), Sika (Calamus spinifolius) and Panlis (Calamus ramulosus). Palasan (Calamus maximus) is bundled straight in lengths of 4m. In Malaysia, large-sized canes are cut in 3m pieces, smaller canes into 8m to 9m lengths bent in two and bundled.
B. Preliminary Processing
Blemishes in rattan are cause by a certain fungi (Ceratocystis sp. and Diplodia sp. and Diplodia Sp.) that heavily infects the rattan tissue with colored vegetative structures known as hyphae. Most of these discolorations are caused by soluble pigments that are given off by the fungi and taken up by the cell walls of the substrate. In some instances, however, the pigmentation of the fungus filaments may contribute to the discoloration. The pigment hyphae penetrate deeply into the rattan tissue and produce blemishes that cannot be removed, even by scraping.
The staining fungi produce spores that float in the surrounding air. Once the spores some into contact with the cut ends and bruises of green rattan poles, they germinate so fast that hyphal penetration may go as deep as 50mm in 24 hours. The spread of the hyphae continues as long as the moisture in the poles remains favorable for the growth of the fungi. However, fungal growth is inhibited when the moisture content of the rattan is below 20 percent.
A number of steps can be taken to prevent staining of rattan poles: When possible, harvesting of rattan is done during the dry season when weather conditions are favorable for the cutters to treat the poles with fungicides. Many rattan cutters leave their poles in the woods for as long as three weeks without treatment, which results in heavy loss due to degradation caused by staining.
Rattan canes that are cut in the forests are transported to the treating depot before they are dried and processed either for local use or for export.
Our rattan poles are transported from the forest to the treating depot for dipping in anti – stain chemical solution the day the poles are harvested in order to protect them from initial infection. If the dipping is done within 24 hours after cutting, the effectiveness of the anti – stain chemical solution is high. But, it is preferable that treatment take place within 12 hours after cutting so as to ensure complete protection from staining fungi. Further delay in dipping will reduce the effectiveness of the chemical treatment against stain infection.
The anti stain chemical solution, consisting of Woodtech with concentration of approximately 0.84% by weight or 3.18 kilograms of the chemical per 378.53 litres (100 US gallons) of water, has been found to be effective in controlling rattan stain; provided, of course, that the poles are properly handled before and after chemical treatment. To maintain a relatively consistent concentration, the solution is stirred thoroughly before rattan poles are dipped into it and the tank containing the solution is covered to protect it from the rain.
If it is not possible to bring the harvested poles to the treating depot the day they are cut, preliminary dipping in the chemical solution is done in the cutting to minimize the risk of infection.
The poles to be treated are hauled to the treating depot, scraped, then dipped for one to two minutes in the Dowicide G solution.
Clean and sanitary conditions are strictly maintained in the treating depot. No rattan trimmings or scrapings or other debir are scattered in the area. This waste is burned; otherwise, it would provides an excellent place for harboring and propagating the staining fungi.
Treated poles are air dried by end-racking. While being air dried, the poles must be protected from rain to prevent the washing away of the anti-stain-chemical solution. When the poles are thoroughly dry, they are sanded for smoothening and subsequently subjected to another and final anti-stain-chemical treatment. During this last treatment, an insecticide may be added to the anti-stain-chemical solution to protect the pole from both stain and insect attack. The poles are dried in a well-ventilated and sheltered storage place by the end-racking method for about a month, until the moisture content is below 20 percent. Once the poles are dried continues efforts are made to keep them dry, especially when they are in transit.
Before shipment for export, the poles are wrapped in thick water-repellent paper or other material that will protect the poles and minimize the moisture they pick up while aboard the ship.
It should be borne in mind that once the staining fungi have penetrated rattan poles beyond the bench of the chemical solution recommended, cure and prevention of fungal staining becomes impossible, redering the rattan poles unusable.
All poles are treated with pentachlorophenate or saline solution to safe-guard against insect borers.
1.2 Conditions for a well-organized production.,
a. The factory building has to be correctly installed in accordance with the right working sequence (routing).
b. The appropriate number of workers should be put to work at the appropriate place to them.
c. The machines to be used have to be in the right position in the working sequence and should be operated in the right way; they should have the right auxiliary tools and in time undergo the proper maintenance.
d. Raw materials, parts and finished items should during the production process be moved and (temporarily) be stored in an appropriate manner (pay attention to it that intermediate storage is as small as possible).
e. Raw materials and parts have to arrive in time, on the right spot and in correct quantity and quality.
f. All through the process of manufacturing everyone concerned (operator, foreman, assistant supervisor and supervisor) are responcible to check and maintain the quality standard that was agreed on.
g. Each person should have a perfect understanding of the quality standard applicable to his specific job. Each person is made aware of his specific responsibility and so help to reach the mutual goal.
h. The above mentioned points are only some of the requirements that a well run factory should comply with.
1.3 Possible causes of inefficient production.
It is a pity to see that some present day factories of rattan furniture do not conform to the standard set forward. This state of affairs may originate from:
a. The building is not suitable to place machinery on the right place or the building does not allow for machines to be shifted to the ideal position.
b. The conveyance of the material and parts is haphazard sometimes due to the above mentioned condition of the building.
c. Fabrication lanes are ill organized, criss-cross each other and are stretched over extremely large distances.
d. Too much room is taken up by too large stacks of intermediate stocks of parts, which results in too little working space.
e. Too much goes to waste by shoddy planning and carelessness.
f. Low personal sense of quality and too little inspection during the full manufacturing process.
g. Loss in revenue due to too large investment in buffer, intermediate and ready stocks.
h. Low productivity which causes high cost-prices.
i. Too many different items worked on at the same time.
j. Too many stoppages, disturbances and break-downs caused by lack of maintenance of machines and tools.
To start and manage a rattan factory requires a longsighted planning and regular checking because:
a. The fabrication process comprises many aspects.
b. New models and designs are always added.
c. The pace of technological innovations is ever-increasing.
d. COMPETITORS ARE AWAKE.
Therefore we should take into account all the above remarks, positive and negative, when starting a new factory.
A good factory should always be able to adapt and make changes accordingly.
This section of our site is to give you an insight of rattan manufacturing and to broaden your (technical) understanding by which Rattan furniture and products of the best quality are measured by.
We hope this section of our site will contribute to a better technical background and knowledge of buyers, home decorators, interior designers, thereby enabling them to better understand rattan manufacturing and designs.
We at Sun Valley Rattan believe in “Total Quality Management” and are always striving to improve our quality, efficiency and Manufacturing Standards.
Our In House Designers, are always ready for design changes, new concepts and innovations that is ready for today’s market.
With proper management, we have cut the wastage of raw materials. This knowledge of costing procedures and our well designed factory lay-out has boosted both quantity and quality, thus reducing our manufacturing cost. This cost reduction is passed on you, the End User.
All of our cushions are manufactured in-house and we only use the finest fabrics and foam materials available.
Typical list of machinery and equipment to be found in a rattan manufacturing plant.
RATTAN POLE YARD.
a. Sizing racks.
b. Drying Kiln.
SANDING AND WOODWORKING AREA.
2 Hydraulic straightening machines.
2 Profile sanding saws with working table.
1 Rattan splitting / trimming machine.
1 Rattan weaving machine.
1 Rattan peel winding machine.
1 Band Saw.
1 Circular saw bench with sliding table.
1 Overhead cross-cutting saw.
1 Circular saw bench with sliding table.
1 Surface planer.
1 Surface / thickness planer.
1 Grinding machine.
1 Exhaust fan and cyclone, (chip and dust exhaust system).
STEAMING; BANDING AND MOULDING AREA.
2 Steaming ovens (different sizes).
1 Bending machine.
1 Pneumatic jig table.
BUFFER SANDING AREA.
1. Buffer sander with cylinder and brush.
1. Buffer sander with brush and disk.
Special sanding machines for sanding bent poles. In these machines two sanding belts are mounted on a rotating disc. When the disc rotates the sanding belts are driven opposite direction. The curve pole can be fed through the opening between the belts. For smaller curves smaller sanding belts are used. Sanding brushes can be used for even smaller curves. Fine and flexible sanding is used for polishing the product. Very suitable is a type of sanding material with grit 220 or 240 applied to a thin foam layer. This is easy to handle and sands all curvatures.
MACHINING JOINTS AREA.
1 Drilling / coping machine with 2 or more drill heads with a multiple set-up frame and pedal (electro).
1 Drilling Machine.
1 Pneumatic “lamello” hand grooving machine.
4 Hand drills operating pneumatic.
1 Grinding machine.
PRE-ASSEMBLY AND FINAL ASSEMBLY AREA.
1 Steaming Oven.
1 Pneumatic jig and assembly table.
1 Drilling machine.
1 Open stroke press (cold gluing method).
Variety of self made assembly frames.
3 Electric hand grooving machines.
9 Electric self-feed drills and tuckers.
3 Pneumatic hang sanders.
2.7 BINDING AREA
9 Pneumatic self-feed tuckers.
5 Pneumatic hang sanders.
1 Chair leveling and chamfering machine.
2.8 SURFACE TREATMENT AREA. 1. Stain dipping tank.
1. Bleach dipping tank.
1. Airless device with 2 spray guns.
1. Electronic device with 1 spray gun.
2. Lacquer spray booths with exhaust fans. Drying racks.
UPHOLSTERY Section. 1 Lay cutter with straight and round cutters.
1 Adhesive spray gun.
1 Exhaust booth and fan.
1 Industrial sewing machine.
FINAL ASSEMBLY AND FITTING AREA.
2 Pneumatic drills and tuckers.
Compressors, Compressed-air installation, Electrical Installation, Chip and dust exhaust system, transport equipment, Storage equipment, Tool room equipment for maintenance, jig making and machine setting.
An estimated 100,000 to 150,000 poles are available at all times to ensure the poles dried in time and to supply the factory continually, without undue stoppages.
The unusual demand is for about 20,000 to 30,000 poles per month.