Medium-density fibreboard (MDF) is a non-structural panel made from fibres produced from wood chips through a mechanical refining process. It is generally used for industrial purposes as a raw material in the production of finished goods, including ready-to-assemble furniture and cabinets. MDF is either hidden from view in a finished product or covered with a decorative coating such as a wood veneer or resin-impregnated paper.
MDF is composed of wood fibres bonded together with specialized resins under heat and pressure. The fibres are produced using a pulping process in which wood chips are treated with steam and broken down into fibres by grinding them between ridged steel plates. Mats are then formed by allowing the fibres distribute themselves randomly, resulting in in a very homogeneous panel.
MDF is produced in thicknesses ranging from ¼ inch to 1½ inches. Larger panel sizes can be produced, but panels are typically cut to 4x8 feet for retail purposes. The panels have smooth surfaces suitable for direct painting, printing or laminating.
When cut, MDF produces a tight edge and smooth surface (compared to particleboard), and can therefore be machined and worked like solid wood. The edges can be routed to various shapes and still be smooth enough for a clean paint finish. The small size of the fibres not only makes MDF easy to finish, but also allows it to be produced in moulded form as well as in straight-edged flat panels. However, MDF does not hold a screw or nail as well as solid wood, plywood or even particleboard.
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