During Domotex 2015, the President of MMFA, Matthias Windmöller, was giving a positive message about the work carried out to date by the MMFA (the Multilayer Modular Flooring Association): “Last year we put some key strategic stakes into the ground and our joint activities are already showing early positive results. The most important of these is the new CEN 16511 standard, which was prepared to a large extent with the help of the MMFA and which marks a significant step towards improving the position of multilayer products on the market. And our list of tasks for 2015 is still jam-packed!”
The new standard entitled “EN 16511, Loose-laid panels – semi-rigid multilayer modular floor covering (MMF) with wear resistant top layer” has been effective since August 2014 and represents an important milestone for the MMFA, whose experts made a significant contribution to its swift preparation. But a dynamic, innovative market means that revision will be required before long, so the MMFA will give consistent support in updating and developing the standard. For example, the MMFA’s Technology Working Group has on its agenda the development of suitable test methods. Also, the eyes of the Association are currently fixed on Brussels, where the course will be set this spring on how the numerous working tasks concerning multilayer floorings should be dealt with, and first and foremost in which of the committees. – After all, the technical questions regarding these products do affect several working groups at the European CEN and the global ISO standards bodies. As for the MMFA, a preferably cross-product solution tuned to the factual issues is imperative to guarantee a professional standardization work on behalf of these innovative products.
To ensure long-term high performance of a multilayer floor construction, the correct underlay material must be used. So last autumn, the MMFA published its comprehensive technical bulletin “Underlay Materials under Multilayer Modular Floor Coverings (MMF) – Test Standards and Performance Indicators”. The Association is in the process of putting together a brochure containing a summary of the bulletin, and one of the ways this can be used is to provide practical advice for sales and the retail trade. In time, this brochure will be made available free of charge in several languages on the MMFA website (www.mmfa.eu). Other items currently being worked on by the MMFA include technical installation instructions for MMF coverings (including those installed on top of underfloor heating systems), plus cleaning and maintenance advice.
During September 2014 in Cologne, the MMFA ran a successful pilot series of practical training courses for craftsmen, flooring experts and retailers. Following the success of these, the MMFA plans to continue this scheme in the German-speaking area in collaboration with the IFR (Institute of Flooring Technology and Interior Furnishing, Cologne). The level of interest and need for advanced practical training on multilayer floors remains strong and the MMFA is currently talking to specialist organizations abroad about running these workshops on a joint basis.
The diversity of surfaces, product compositions and formats of modular multilayer flooring is constantly growing; there are products to suit every taste and any construction situation. The MMFA has already reacted to the rapid developments: in order to open up three MMFA product categories for new product types, they slightly modified their definitions in October 2014, which are now as follows: “Floating, multilayer structure modular floor coverings… Class 1: Substrate based on HDF with polymer layer (excluding lacquer only systems), Class 2: Substrate based on polymer or polymer composite with polymer layer and/or polymer lacquer system, Class 3: All other flooring structures which are not covered by Class 1 and 2 or external standards”. Class 3, for example, covers modules with textile surface using a click system, or those with a mineral core.
According to Sebastian Wendel, Chairman of the MMFA Market Development Working Group, the sales volumes produced by MMFA members for Class 1 (with HDF core) currently account for the greater part of the global market and for this category, the Association recorded a good growth within recent years. Western Europe remains the leading international market for Class 1 products which continues to show a clear growth trend, particularly in the traditionally strong sales regions of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
As of January 2015, the MMFA is made up of 15 European flooring manufacturers as ordinary members, 17 supplier companies as extraordinary members and two research institutes as supporting members. The Association has recently gained Forbo Flooring B.V. based in Assendelft (NL), as a new ordinary member, and machine manufacturer Sandvik TPS (a Division of Sandvik Materials Technology Deutschland GmbH), based in Göppingen (G) as a new extraordinary member – and anticipates further newcomers in the medium term. Members of the MMFA will be attending the next Ordinary Members’ Meeting in the spring; this working session will take place on 20-21 April 2015 in Viken, Sweden, at the invitation of Välinge Innovations AB.