WO2012004699A2 - Panel and method for manufacturing panels - Google Patents

Panel and method for manufacturing panels Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2012004699A2
WO2012004699A2 PCT/IB2011/052713 IB2011052713W WO2012004699A2 WO 2012004699 A2 WO2012004699 A2 WO 2012004699A2 IB 2011052713 W IB2011052713 W IB 2011052713W WO 2012004699 A2 WO2012004699 A2 WO 2012004699A2
Authority
WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
edge
substrate
top layer
material
panel
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/IB2011/052713
Other languages
French (fr)
Other versions
WO2012004699A3 (en
Inventor
Laurent Meersseman
Martin Segaert
Bernard Thiers
Original Assignee
Flooring Industries Limited, Sarl
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to BEBE2010/0420 priority Critical
Priority to BE2010/0420A priority patent/BE1019501A5/en
Priority to BEBE2010/0441 priority
Priority to BE2010/0441A priority patent/BE1019747A3/en
Priority to BE201000602A priority patent/BE1020170A3/en
Priority to BEBE2010/0602 priority
Priority to BEBE2010/0705 priority
Priority to BE2010/0705A priority patent/BE1019654A3/en
Priority to BEBE2010/0713 priority
Priority to BE201000713A priority patent/BE1019659A5/en
Priority to BEBE2010/0719 priority
Priority to BE201000719A priority patent/BE1019662A3/en
Priority to BE2010/0749A priority patent/BE1019665A5/en
Priority to BEBE2010/0749 priority
Priority to US61/426,734 priority
Priority to US201061426734P priority
Priority to US201061426583P priority
Priority to US61/426,583 priority
Priority to US61/429,845 priority
Priority to US201161429845P priority
Priority to US61/432,021 priority
Priority to US201161432021P priority
Priority to BEBE2011/0128 priority
Priority to BE2011/0128A priority patent/BE1019954A3/en
Application filed by Flooring Industries Limited, Sarl filed Critical Flooring Industries Limited, Sarl
Publication of WO2012004699A2 publication Critical patent/WO2012004699A2/en
Publication of WO2012004699A3 publication Critical patent/WO2012004699A3/en

Links

Classifications

    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04FFINISHING WORK ON BUILDINGS, e.g. STAIRS, FLOORS
    • E04F15/00Flooring
    • E04F15/02Flooring or floor layers composed of a number of similar elements
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B27WORKING OR PRESERVING WOOD OR SIMILAR MATERIAL; NAILING OR STAPLING MACHINES IN GENERAL
    • B27NMANUFACTURE BY DRY PROCESSES OF ARTICLES, WITH OR WITHOUT ORGANIC BINDING AGENTS, MADE FROM PARTICLES OR FIBRES CONSISTING OF WOOD OR OTHER LIGNOCELLULOSIC OR LIKE ORGANIC MATERIAL
    • B27N7/00After-treatment, e.g. reducing swelling or shrinkage, surfacing; Protecting the edges of boards against access of humidity
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B21/00Layered products comprising a layer of wood, e.g. wood board, veneer, wood particle board
    • B32B21/02Layered products comprising a layer of wood, e.g. wood board, veneer, wood particle board the layer being formed of fibres, chips, or particles, e.g. MDF, HDF, OSB, chipboard, particle board, hardboard
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B21/00Layered products comprising a layer of wood, e.g. wood board, veneer, wood particle board
    • B32B21/04Layered products comprising a layer of wood, e.g. wood board, veneer, wood particle board comprising wood as the main or only constituent of a layer, which is next to another layer of the same or of a different material
    • B32B21/08Layered products comprising a layer of wood, e.g. wood board, veneer, wood particle board comprising wood as the main or only constituent of a layer, which is next to another layer of the same or of a different material of synthetic resin
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B27/00Layered products comprising a layer of synthetic resin
    • B32B27/06Layered products comprising a layer of synthetic resin as the main or only constituent of a layer, which is next to another layer of the same or of a different material
    • B32B27/10Layered products comprising a layer of synthetic resin as the main or only constituent of a layer, which is next to another layer of the same or of a different material of paper or cardboard
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B27/00Layered products comprising a layer of synthetic resin
    • B32B27/18Layered products comprising a layer of synthetic resin characterised by the use of special additives
    • B32B27/20Layered products comprising a layer of synthetic resin characterised by the use of special additives using fillers, pigments, thixotroping agents
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B27/00Layered products comprising a layer of synthetic resin
    • B32B27/30Layered products comprising a layer of synthetic resin comprising vinyl (co)polymers; comprising acrylic (co)polymers
    • B32B27/304Layered products comprising a layer of synthetic resin comprising vinyl (co)polymers; comprising acrylic (co)polymers comprising vinyl halide (co)polymers, e.g. PVC, PVDC, PVF, PVDF
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B27/00Layered products comprising a layer of synthetic resin
    • B32B27/40Layered products comprising a layer of synthetic resin comprising polyurethanes
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B3/00Layered products comprising a layer with external or internal discontinuities or unevennesses, or a layer of non-planar form ; Layered products having particular features of form
    • B32B3/26Layered products comprising a layer with external or internal discontinuities or unevennesses, or a layer of non-planar form ; Layered products having particular features of form characterised by a particular shape of the outline of the cross-section of a continuous layer; characterised by a layer with cavities or internal voids ; characterised by an apertured layer
    • B32B3/30Layered products comprising a layer with external or internal discontinuities or unevennesses, or a layer of non-planar form ; Layered products having particular features of form characterised by a particular shape of the outline of the cross-section of a continuous layer; characterised by a layer with cavities or internal voids ; characterised by an apertured layer characterised by a layer formed with recesses or projections, e.g. hollows, grooves, protuberances, ribs
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B7/00Layered products characterised by the relation between layers; Layered products characterised by the relative orientation of features between layers, or by the relative values of a measurable parameter between layers, i.e. products comprising layers having different physical, chemical or physicochemical properties; Layered products characterised by the interconnection of layers
    • B32B7/02Physical, chemical or physicochemical properties
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B7/00Layered products characterised by the relation between layers; Layered products characterised by the relative orientation of features between layers, or by the relative values of a measurable parameter between layers, i.e. products comprising layers having different physical, chemical or physicochemical properties; Layered products characterised by the interconnection of layers
    • B32B7/04Interconnection of layers
    • B32B7/12Interconnection of layers using interposed adhesives or interposed materials with bonding properties
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B44DECORATIVE ARTS
    • B44CPRODUCING DECORATIVE EFFECTS; MOSAICS; TARSIA WORK; PAPERHANGING
    • B44C5/00Processes for producing special ornamental bodies
    • B44C5/04Ornamental plaques, e.g. decorative panels, decorative veneers
    • B44C5/043Ornamental plaques, e.g. decorative panels, decorative veneers containing wooden elements
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B44DECORATIVE ARTS
    • B44CPRODUCING DECORATIVE EFFECTS; MOSAICS; TARSIA WORK; PAPERHANGING
    • B44C5/00Processes for producing special ornamental bodies
    • B44C5/04Ornamental plaques, e.g. decorative panels, decorative veneers
    • B44C5/0469Ornamental plaques, e.g. decorative panels, decorative veneers comprising a decorative sheet and a core formed by one or more resin impregnated sheets of paper
    • B44C5/0476Ornamental plaques, e.g. decorative panels, decorative veneers comprising a decorative sheet and a core formed by one or more resin impregnated sheets of paper with abrasion resistant properties
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B2260/00Impregnation or embedding of a layer; Bonding a fibrous, filamentary or particulate layer by using a binder
    • B32B2260/02Composition of the impregnated, bonded or embedded layer
    • B32B2260/026Wood layer
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B2272/00Resin or rubber layer comprising scrap, waste or recycling material
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B2274/00Thermoplastic elastomer material
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B2307/00Properties of the layers or laminate
    • B32B2307/40Properties of the layers or laminate having particular optical properties
    • B32B2307/412Transparent
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B2307/00Properties of the layers or laminate
    • B32B2307/50Properties of the layers or laminate having particular mechanical properties
    • B32B2307/536Hardness
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B2307/00Properties of the layers or laminate
    • B32B2307/50Properties of the layers or laminate having particular mechanical properties
    • B32B2307/546Flexural strength; Flexion stiffness
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B2307/00Properties of the layers or laminate
    • B32B2307/70Other properties
    • B32B2307/72Density
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B2307/00Properties of the layers or laminate
    • B32B2307/70Other properties
    • B32B2307/732Dimensional properties
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B2307/00Properties of the layers or laminate
    • B32B2307/70Other properties
    • B32B2307/75Printability
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B2419/00Buildings or parts thereof
    • B32B2419/04Tiles for floors or walls
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B2471/00Floor coverings
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B2607/00Walls, panels
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04FFINISHING WORK ON BUILDINGS, e.g. STAIRS, FLOORS
    • E04F2201/00Joining sheets or plates or panels
    • E04F2201/01Joining sheets, plates or panels with edges in abutting relationship
    • E04F2201/0138Joining sheets, plates or panels with edges in abutting relationship by moving the sheets, plates or panels perpendicular to the main plane
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04FFINISHING WORK ON BUILDINGS, e.g. STAIRS, FLOORS
    • E04F2201/00Joining sheets or plates or panels
    • E04F2201/01Joining sheets, plates or panels with edges in abutting relationship
    • E04F2201/0153Joining sheets, plates or panels with edges in abutting relationship by rotating the sheets, plates or panels around an axis which is parallel to the abutting edges, possibly combined with a sliding movement
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04FFINISHING WORK ON BUILDINGS, e.g. STAIRS, FLOORS
    • E04F2201/00Joining sheets or plates or panels
    • E04F2201/04Other details of tongues or grooves
    • E04F2201/044Other details of tongues or grooves with tongues or grooves comprising elements which are not manufactured in one piece with the sheets, plates or panels but which are permanently fixedly connected to the sheets, plates or panels, e.g. at the factory
    • E04F2201/049Other details of tongues or grooves with tongues or grooves comprising elements which are not manufactured in one piece with the sheets, plates or panels but which are permanently fixedly connected to the sheets, plates or panels, e.g. at the factory wherein the elements are made of organic plastics with or without reinforcements or filling materials

Abstract

Panel of the type which comprises at least a substrate (6) and a top layer (7) provided thereon, wherein this panel (1), at least at one edge (4), comprises an edge portion (13) of synthetic material, different from the substrate material (6), characterized in that the synthetic material extends at least over 80 percent of the thickness (T3) of the substrate (6), and wherein the substrate (6) at the respective edge (4) comprises a distal point (77), wherein said edge portion (13) extends beyond said distal point (77) over a distance T5 which is larger than half of the thickness T3 of the substrate (6).

Description

Panel and method for manufacturing panels.

This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) to the U.S. provisional applications No. 61/426,583 filed on December 23, 2010, No. 61/426,734, filed on December 23, 2010, No. 61/429,845 filed on January 5, 201 1 , and No. 61/432,021 , filed on January 12, 201 1.

This invention relates to panels and methods for manufacturing panels, and in particular to floor panels and methods for manufacturing them.

More particularly, the invention relates to floor panels of the type which comprises at least a substrate and a top layer provided thereon, wherein said top layer preferably comprises a motif. As known, above such motif a transparent or translucent synthetic material layer can be provided, which then forms part of said top layer.

In particular, the present invention relates to floor panels of the type comprising on two or more opposite edges coupling means or coupling parts, with which two of such floor panels can be coupled at the respective edges, such that they are locked to each other in a horizontal direction perpendicular to the respective edge and in the plane of the floor panels, as well as in a vertical direction perpendicular to the plane of the floor panels. Such floor panels can be applied for composing a so-called floating floor covering, wherein the floor panels are interconnected at their edges, however, are lying freely on the underlying surface or underlying floor.

From WO 97/47834, laminate floor panels are known for forming a floating floor covering. However, laminate floor panels show the disadvantage that they mostly are provided with a moisture-sensitive substrate, namely MDF or HDF (Medium Density Fiberboard or High Density Fiberboard), and that the top layer provided on said substrate, when the floor covering is in use, leads to the development of ticking noises. Namely, the top layer is composed of thermo-hardening resin and leads to the formation of a very hard surface layer. The substrate, too, is hard due to the high density of MDF or HDF. Mostly, laminate floor panels have a thickness situated between 6 and 12 millimeters, wherein the thickness of the top layer mostly is less than 0.5 millimeters.

From WO 2007/141605, coupling systems are known, wherein, either for the female part or for the male part, use is made of an edge portion or insertion piece of synthetic material, with the intention of obtaining sufficient flexibility for the respective part. Said synthetic material can be composed on the basis of polyurethane. In the case of panels with a printed decor, such as with a laminate floor, such material is laterally introduced in a groove-shaped recess in the respective edge of the panel. Hereby, a portion of the water-sensitive substrate remains accessible to moisture which penetrates into the joints, on the edge surrounding the insertion piece as well as on the opposite edge. Thus, the document concerned does not offer a solution for realizing water-repellent edges.

From WO 2004/015221 , similar coupling systems are known, wherein for the male part or the tongue, use is made of extruded synthetic material, which also is laterally introduced into a groove-shaped recess. Each time, a portion of the substrate remains accessible to moisture, either on the tongue side, or on the groove side, or on both. In the embodiments wherein the synthetic material extends over at least 80 percent of the thickness of the substrate, no solution is offered for the possible development of migration effects in floor panels with a top layer or printed decor. In the embodiments, the synthetic material anyhow remains visibly present in a coupled condition of two of such panels. Moreover, extrusion is a cumbersome technique, which hinders the production speed. From DE 10 2004 023 157, a coupling system is known, in this case an engagement connection which locks in horizontal direction only, wherein, for the female part as well as for the male part, an edge portion or insertion piece of synthetic material is used, with the intention of obtaining a water-repellent effect at the respective edges. In the case of boards provided with decorative film, it is started from larger boards. The synthetic material is provided in the larger board in grooves provided for this purpose in the upper side of the board. These grooves are provided at the locations where the edges of the final smaller panels are expected. In these grooves, liquid or paste-like thermoplastic material is provided, which hardens there. Subsequently, the board is provided with the respective film, and subsequently the board provided with film is divided into smaller panels, which, as aforementioned, comprise an amount of synthetic material on the edge, in this case immediately underneath the decorative film. The panels obtained thereby have a high risk of migration of the edges of the synthetic material through the decorative film. Moreover, the applied method requires the presence of a residual amount of substrate material below the level of the synthetic edge portion in order to enable the application of the liquid or paste-like thermoplastic material. Moreover, thermoplastic materials show the disadvantage that the adherence to a moisture-sensitive material, such as MDF or HDF, leaves much to be desired, that this material is difficult to apply at high speeds, and, during finishing, for example, with machining tools, it can cause difficulties, such as accumulation on the milling tools.

From WO 96/27721 , laminate panels are known, wherein the coupling system for the panels is provided in separate laths of waterproof material, which are attached to the edges of the panels. It is unclear how and when these laths are connected to the panels. The coupling system from said WO document only allows coupling the respective panels by means of a horizontal shifting movement. Further, these laminate panels largely show the same disadvantages as the panels of DE 10 2004 023 157 in respect to migration of the edge of the laths through the laminate layer.

From WO 2007/113676 and WO 2007/078181 , it is known to cover the coupling systems of laminate floor panels with various substances, which can result in a moisture-repellent effect or a local sealing. From EP 1 938 963, vinyl-based floor panels are known for forming such floating floor covering. Such vinyl-based floor panels mostly have a thickness of 3 to 5 millimeters and have a high material density. Inherent to these floor panels is their limited bending stiffness and their high deformability. These features lead to problems when the floor panels are applied on an uneven underlying surface. Namely, after a certain period of time the unevennesses of the underlying surface can migrate towards the surface of the floor covering. With local loads, for example, underneath the legs of tables or chairs, permanent impressions will result, which are undesired as well. The present invention relates to an alternative panel, which in the first place is intended as a floor panel for forming a floating floor covering. According to various preferred embodiments of the invention, also a solution is offered for one or more problems with the floor panels of the state of the art.

To this aim, the invention, according to its first independent aspect, relates to a panel of the type which comprises at least a substrate and a top layer provided thereon, wherein this panel, at least at one edge, comprises an edge portion of synthetic material, different from the substrate material, with the characteristic that the synthetic material extends at least over 80 percent of the thickness of the substrate and that the attachment of the edge portion to the substrate and/or the provided top layer is at least partially obtained by hardening of said synthetic material. Due to the fact that the synthetic material extends at least over 80 percent of the thickness of the substrate, the moisture-sensitivity of the respective edge already is limited to a considerable extent. In combination with the attachment by hardening, one or more separate glue layers can be avoided. Moreover, such attachment can lead to a local impregnation of the substrate at the respective edge, such that also on the substrate side of the interface between substrate material and edge portion a reduced moisture-sensitivity can be obtained. Hereby, the moisture-sensitivity of the possible substrate material at the edge, i.e. 20 percent of the thickness or less, is limited as well. Preferably, the synthetic material extends over 90, 95% or more of the thickness of the substrate material, such that the moisture-sensitivity is limited still further.

Preferably, the synthetic edge portion also extends over at least 80 percent, 90 percent, 95 percent or more of the contour of the possible profiled edge portion. Preferably, the complete edge of the substrate material is covered by the synthetic edge portion, such that no exposed surfaces of the substrate material are present on the respective edge.

Preferably, at least the attachment of the edge portion to the substrate is obtained by hardening said synthetic material. Preferably, this herein relates to a direct attachment without intermediate material layers and/or substances, such as glue. Preferably, in combination herewith, also the attachment of the edge portion to the top layer is obtained by hardening of said synthetic material; preferably, this herein also relates to a direct attachment. Moreover, the direct attachment of the synthetic material to the lower side of the top layer can lead to an increased resistance against delaminating of the top layer. Namely, there is a risk of such delamination, for example, when manufacturing the panels, when the edges of the panel are provided with profiles by means of cutting treatments, such as milling operations. A risk of delamination also exists during installation, in particular when the panels during coupling rub with their top layers against each other, such as it can be the case, for example, when these panels, at the respective edges, are provided with coupling means, wherein these coupling means can be connected by means of a downward coupling movement. A risk of delamination also exists when using a floor covering which is composed of panels, and is present in a pronounced manner, for example, underneath the castors of office chairs.

It is clear that, when an attachment of the synthetic edge portion to the top layer is mentioned, either by hardening or otherwise, this preferably relates at least to an attachment which takes place at the lower side of the top layer. The technical merits of the present invention in such cases lies, amongst others, in minimizing any migration effects, whereby the edges of the synthetic edge portions will be outlined less or no more at all on the surface of the panels.

A particular variant consists in that the attachment of the synthetic edge portion at the substrate is obtained by hardening of said synthetic material, as set forth herein above, however, wherein the attachment of the edge portion at the lower side of the top layer is obtained by means of an intermediate substance, such as glue. To this aim, preferably the same glue is applied as the glue with which the top layer is provided on the substrate. Possible migration effects of the edges of the synthetic material towards the surface of the panel can be minimized or even avoided by taking one or a combination of one or more of the following measures:

- the measure wherein at least 10 grams or even at least 15 grams per square meter of the intermediate substance is applied for adhering the top layer to the synthetic edge portion and/or the substrate. In this manner, the intermediate substance forms a buffer, which can flatten possible level differences between the synthetic edge portion and the substrate completely or partially;

- the measure wherein the top layer has a thickness of at least 0,3 millimeters, and still better of at least 1 or 1.5 millimeters. Such thick top layer provides for a certain stiffness, such that the migration of limited unevennesses between the synthetic material and the substrate has less chances; - the measure wherein a thermoplastic top layer is applied, of the type which as such is at least composed of a back layer, a motif provided thereon and a transparent or translucent wear layer. Herein, the back layer preferably covers a thickness of more than 45 percent of the overall thickness T of the top layer. The back layer preferably consists of a layer of soft recycled

PVC, which is filled, for example, with chalk or any other filler. The back layer as such has a higher density than said transparent or translucent layer. The motif preferably is provided on a carrier. This may relate, for example, to a printed PVC film. For the transparent or translucent wear layer, preferably a PVC layer with a thickness of minimum 0.2 millimeters is applied. Preferably, the PVC layer is not thicker than 0.6 millimeters. This thickness is sufficient for obtaining a good wear resistance;

- the measure wherein the surface of the substrate and the surface of the synthetic material are sanded before the top layer is glued onto the whole.

Preferably, the panel comprises such edge portion on both edges of a pair of opposite sides. Herein, the attachment, construction or dimensions of the respective edge portions do not necessarily have to be identical, however, preferably well. Of course, edge portions of a pair of opposite edges preferably have approximately complementary shapes or contours, such that they can cooperate as coupling means or coupling parts for realizing a locking between two of such coupled panels. They may, each individually, show the characteristics of one or more preferred embodiments of the first aspect. The invention thus also relates to all possible combinations of such characteristics.

Preferably, the synthetic material extends at least over the entire thickness of the substrate material. In this manner, moisture-sensitivity of possibly remaining substrate material on the respective edge is maximally excluded, and additional covering layers with water-repellent substance of remaining substrate material on the respective edge are not required.

Preferably, the synthetic material extends from the lower side of the panel to or still better into the top layer. By means of this embodiment, it is obtained in a reliable manner that no remaining substrate material is present directly below the top layer. In this way, negative effects, such as swelling of the edge, which can push up the top layer, can be avoided. If, contrary to the present preferred embodiment, a residual amount of substrate material is present between the edge portion and the top layer, at least this portion of the substrate material preferably comprises a covering on the basis of a water-repellent substance. In this manner, edge swelling, which might push up the top layer, also can be avoided to a certain extent. Also possibly remaining substrate material below the edge portion additionally can be sealed with such water-repellent substance.

Preferably, on all edges of the panel the substrate material is finished in a watertight manner. It is clear that on the edge or edges where the edge portion of the invention is situated, this watertight finishing of the substrate material is at least partially obtained by the presence of said edge portion.

Preferably, said connection between the edge portion and the substrate material extends over a boundary surface, which comprises partial surfaces extending transverse to the normal of the surface of the panel. Such boundary surface increases the strength of the connection between the substrate material and the edge portion. Moreover, it is possible to save synthetic material by means of such configuration, in that, for example, in the case of profiled edges, said boundary surface then can follow the profile to the edges to a certain extent. Preferably, said boundary surface is performed such that it extends from the top downwards towards the bulk of the substrate material, or that an uppermost point of this boundary surface is situated closer to the edge of the top layer than a lowermost point of the boundary surface. Such configuration allows a smooth production of the panels.

Preferably, said synthetic material relates to a polyurethane, preferably obtained on the basis of a two-component system, such as on the basis of polyol and isocyanate. Polyurethane can adjusted to different hardnesses and is a flexible material in respect to production possibilities. For example, it is easy to cast. By means of such two-component system, a chemical adherence to wood particles, which possible can be present in the substrate material, can be obtained. A chemical adherence is to be preferred above a mechanical adherence in respect to the strength thereof. Preferably, said synthetic material relates to a thermo-hardening synthetic material, for example, a material on the basis of polyurea, epoxy or polyurethane. Thermo-hardening materials do not require any extrusion process for processing them and allow smoother production processes. Herein, polyurethane is preferred as a result of the herein above-mentioned features thereof, and in particular the adjustable flexibility and casting ability thereof. The hardness of polyurea and epoxy is difficult to adjust to the requirements of the present invention, in particular when the invention is applied with profiled edge portions which comprise coupling means. In such case, the hardness of polyurea and epoxy is too large for allowing a user-friendly and/or creak-free coupling. Moreover, polyurea cannot be cast, which complicates the applicability thereof in a mass production process.

Preferably, said synthetic material comprises filler material, preferably between 5 and 50 percent by weight and still better between 10 and 35 percent by weight of the edge portion consists of filler. By applying a filler material, considerable cost savings can be realized. As a filler material, possibly milling dust can be applied, for example, milling dust generated by profiling the edges of the panels. As an alternative, the synthetic material may be at least partially foamed and/or comprise foamed filler material. For a foamed filler material, use can be made of polystyrene-based synthetic material particles. Preferably, the expansion or foaming of the synthetic material and/or the filling material is performed at least partially during hardening of the synthetic material, and/or after this synthetic material already has been applied on the respective edge. The application of foaming filler material further has the advantage that any shrinkage of the synthetic material, when being hardened, can be compensated. Preferably, between 0.1 and 10 percent by weight of the foamed filler material is applied in the respective edge portion, and still better between 0.5 and 5 percent by weight.

According to a particular embodiment, the panel of the invention at its surface, next to the edge concerned, is provided with an edge surface situated lower in respect to the global surface. Such edge surface can be realized, for example, as a chamfer, namely, with an inclined or bent surface in respect to the global surface, or realized as a horizontally lower-situated edge, for example, for imitating a cement joint. Preferably, such top layer extends over such edge surface. By means of such embodiment, an edge portion can be applied which extends on the edge of the panel up into the lateral edge of the edge surface.

Preferably, the substrate, at the respective edge where the synthetic edge portion is situated, comprises a distal point, wherein said edge portion extends beyond this distal point over a distance which is larger than half of the thickness of the substrate, of still better is larger than the thickness of the substrate. By a distal point, the point is meant which, in horizontal direction, is situated closest to the edge. Preferably, said top layer extends in distal direction at least up to said distal point, or still better beyond the distal point of the substrate.

With the same intention as in the first aspect, the invention, according to an independent second aspect, relates to another panel of the type which comprises at least a substrate and a top layer provided thereon, wherein this panel, at least at one edge, comprises an edge portion of synthetic material, different from the substrate material, with the characteristic that the synthetic material relates to a thermo-hardening material and/or a material obtained on the basis of a two- component system, wherein the edge portion is directly connected to the substrate and/or the provided top layer. From the above, it is clear that applying a thermo- hardening material and/or a material obtained on the basis of a two-component system as such has advantages, without the requirement that the synthetic material herein must extend over at least 80 percent of the thickness of the substrate. Preferably, the invention of this second aspect shows the characteristics of one or more preferred embodiments of the first aspect, wherein the aforementioned 80 percent degrees of covering of the substrate material either are achieved or not.

Suitable synthetic material for realizing panels with the characteristics of the second aspect are, for example, polyurethane elastomers, such as Elastocast from BASF, Baytec from BAYER or Rencast from HUNTSMAN. As a possible foaming filler material, Expancel of Akzo Nobel can be applied.

It is clear that by a thermo-hardening material, a material is intended which, when heated up to a certain temperature, undergoes an at least partially irreversible chemical alteration, such as a cross-linking reaction. Preferably, a thermo- hardening material on the basis of a two-component system is used, such as so- called thermo-hardening urethane resin or TSU (Thermosetting Urethane). It is also noted that said hardening of the synthetic material can be obtained in different manners. For example, it can be started from a cast material, which hardens at the location of the edge of the substrate and/or on the lower side of the top layer. According to another possibility, it can be started from hard profiles, which are entirely or partially melted and, by renewed hardening at the location of the edge of the substrate and/or on the lower side of the top layer, realize said connection. Possibly, also the substrate, or at least a part thereof, can be connected to the substrate at least partially by means of such melting connection. Possibly, all connections between substrate, synthetic edge portion and top layer can be obtained in a single melting treatment or a limited number of melting treatments, for example, in a heated press device.

With the same purpose as in the first aspect, the present invention, according to an independent third aspect, relates to another panel of the type which comprises at least a substrate and a top layer provided thereon, wherein this panel, at least at one edge, comprises an edge portion of synthetic material, different from the substrate material, with the characteristic that the synthetic material is directly connected to the substrate and/or the provided top layer and that the respective edge of the substrate material is formed exclusively of said edge portion. By "directly connected", it is meant that the attachment of the edge portion is obtained without the intermediary of additional material layers and/or glue. Preferably, the invention of this third aspect shows the characteristics of one or more preferred embodiments of the first aspect, wherein the attachment mentioned there does not necessarily have to be obtained by hardening of the respective synthetic material. Of course, the third aspect can also be combined with said second aspect. The direct attachment of the synthetic material to the lower side of the top layer can lead to an increased resistance against delaminating of the top layer.

With the same purpose as with the first aspect, the present invention, according to an independent fourth aspect, relates to another panel of the type which comprises at least a substrate and a top layer provided thereon, wherein this panel, at least at one edge, comprises an edge portion of synthetic material, different from the substrate material, with the characteristic that the synthetic material relates to a material which hardens under the influence of moisture and that the substrate material contains less than 10 percent by weight of residual moisture. Preferably, use is made of polyurethane as synthetic material. Due to the fact that the moisture which is present in the substrate material is restricted, undesired formation of foam in the edge portion is avoided. Preferably, the substrate material relates to a material which comprises wood particles, for example, MDF or HDF. Preferably, the substrate material comprises less than 7 percent by weight of residual moisture. Preferably, the invention of this fourth aspect shows the characteristics of one or more preferred embodiments of the first aspect, wherein the aforementioned 80 percent degrees of covering of the substrate material either are achieved or not. Of course, the invention of the fourth aspect can be combined with the characteristics of the second and/or the third aspect. According to a fifth independent aspect, the invention relates to another panel of the type which comprises at least a substrate and a top layer provided thereon, wherein this panel is realized rectangular and oblong, with the characteristic that this panel, at a first pair of opposite edges, comprises an edge portion of synthetic material, whereas on the other pair of opposite edges other provisions are taken for reducing the water-sensitiveness of these edges. According to this fifth independent aspect, a panel can be obtained which shows a reduced moisture- sensitivity on all edges. It is clear that for the edge portion, use can be made of embodiments described by means of the first, second, third and/or fourth aspect of the invention. For the second pair of edges, preferably use is made of a covering on the basis of a water-repellent substance. Due to the fact that the first pair of edges shows an edge portion, the covering with the water-repellent substance on the second pair of edges can be provided in a more reliable manner. Namely, said covering can extend from the lateral surface of the edge portion of one of the first pair of edges over the second pair of edges up to the lateral surface of the edge portion of the other of the first pair of edges. Preferably, the first pair of edges relates to the pair of short edges of the panel. However, it is not excluded that this might be the long pair of edges.

According to a sixth independent aspect, the invention relates to another panel of the type which comprises at least a substrate and a top layer provided thereon, wherein this panel, at least at one edge, comprises an edge portion of synthetic material, different from the substrate material, with the characteristic that said top layer relates to an annealed thermoplastic layer. By "annealed" (English: annealed) or relaxed, it is meant that the respective top layer is treated in order to minimize possible residual tensions. This can be performed, for example, by heating the respective top layer up to or above the glass transition temperature, mostly indicated as Tg, and to let this top layer cool down slowly. By this process, the internal tensions present in the material of the top layer can at least partially relax.

Preferably, it is annealed or relaxed tension-free, such that the remaining tensions are at least 90 percent lower than the initial residual tensions or even are negligible. Because the top layer is annealed, it is obtained that the risk of migration effects from the edge of the edge portion towards the surface of the panel is minimized. As the possibly remaining residual tensions are smaller after annealing, it is obtained that the top layer pulls less at the substrate and the edge portion. As aforementioned, the reduced pulling effect leads to a reduced migration effect.

Preferably, said top layer, or a portion thereof, has been annealed or relaxed before said top layer or the respective portion has been provided n the substrate. In this manner, the influence of annealing on the substrate material and/or the edge portion is minimized. Working with an annealed or relaxed top layer results in various advantages when further processing or manufacturing the panels of the invention. For example, incisions in the substrate material will lead to a less high risk of deformations of the top layer.

It is clear that the edge portion and/or the panel of the sixth aspect can show the characteristics of the first, second, third, fourth and/or the fifth aspect and/or of the preferred embodiments and/or of the particular variants thereof. According to a seventh independent aspect, the invention aims at offering a method which can be applied, for example, for manufacturing the panels of the first through sixth aspect of the invention. According to various preferred embodiments of this method, advantages are obtained in comparison with the methods of the state of the art. To this aim, the invention, in an independent manner, relates to a method for manufacturing panels, wherein these panels comprise at least a substrate and a top layer provided thereon, and wherein these panels, at least at one edge, comprise an edge portion of a synthetic material, different from the substrate material, wherein it is started from larger semi-finished products, from which, by subdividing, at least two of such panels can be obtained, wherein the method comprises at least the step of realizing said semi-finished products, which comprise at least the substrates, top layers, and preferably also the edge portions of said two panels, with the characteristic that the synthetic material of said edge portions is applied after said substrates and top layers already have been provided upon each other. Preferably, herein use is made of an annealed top layer, as in the sixth aspect. In that the substrates and top layers already are provided on top of each other, the edge portion can be realized in a more reliable manner on the location where the panel edges are expected. Preferably, the panel edges namely are oriented in respect to a pattern or motif present in the top layer. For example, in the case of a wood pattern, care can be taken that the panel edges extend parallel or perpendicular to the global direction of the wood nerves. According to another example, in the case of a pattern with joints, such as cement joints, care can be taken that the panel edges extend parallel or perpendicular to the direction of the represented joints. Because the edge portion can be applied in a more reliable manner, cost savings on the synthetic material can be realized. Preferably, the substrates form part of a larger substrate material and the top layers of a larger top layer material, wherein in the step of realizing the semifinished products, the larger top layer material is provided on the larger substrate material and subsequently recesses are provided in the substrate material, in which said synthetic material of the edge portions can be provided. These recesses then are preferably oriented in respect to a pattern or motif present in the top layer, by which the above-mentioned advantages can be achieved.

Preferably, the synthetic material of the edge portions is provided in liquid or pastelike form, after which it hardens in the respective semi-finished product before the semi-finished product is divided into at least said two panels. Application in liquid or paste-like form leads to less problems in respect to tolerances than applying a solid material, such as a lath.

It is clear that the lower side of the semi-finished products, when providing and/or hardening the synthetic material, preferably is directed upward and that the top layer material preferably is directed downward.

The inventors have found that, when the semi-finished product, in particular the substrate material thereof, is heated above room temperature, for example, up to more than 35°C or more than 45°C, when the synthetic material is applied, a reduced risk of shrinkage of the synthetic material is obtained, such that less or no deformations of the top layer occur in the final panel. As aforementioned, possible shrinkage also can be at least partially compensated by the use of foaming filler materials. Whether or not in combination with a heated substrate material and/or foaming filler materials, it is possible to cool the top layer material, below room temperature, for example, below 15°C or below 10°C, when hardening the synthetic material of the edge portions. This operation also contributes in a beneficial manner to the reduction of the above-mentioned deformation risk, and such in particular with thermoplastic top layer material, such as with a top layer material, which as such is at least composed of a so-called back layer, a motif and a transparent or translucent wear layer.

Further, the inventors have found that it may be advantageous to let the applied synthetic material harden under pressure. To this aim, for example, a press-on element can be applied, which is active at the opening of the recesses, namely, on the lower side of the semi-finished products.

The recesses preferably are limited in all directions of the plane of the substrate material by the substrate material and/or the other material of the semi-finished product and thus preferably comprise one or more openings exclusively in a direction perpendicular to the plane of the panels, namely, on the lower side of the semi-finished product. In this manner, it is obtained that the synthetic material, when being applied, does not flow away from the semi-finished product. Instead of by the substrate material and/or the other material of the semi-finished product, one or more of such recesses, in the directions of the plane and in particular at the transverse ends of such recesses, can also be limited by a separate, whether or not automatic, covering element.

Preferably, said semi-finished product also comprises an underlying layer or backing layer, wherein said synthetic material of said edge portions is applied after the backing layer already has been provided on the substrate material. Preferably, said recesses thus extend through the backing layer. As a backing layer, preferably a similar material as the material of the top layer is applied.

It is clear that said dividing preferably takes place after the material of one or more of the synthetic edge portions is applied and/or hardened. According to an alternative, the larger semi-finished products first are divided before the synthetic material of one or more edge portions is applied.

According to a deviating variant of said seventh aspect, it is started from semifinished products, from which only one panel can be obtained instead of a plurality. This alternative semi-finished product then comprises at least the substrate, the top layer and edge portions of the respective panel, and the deviating method of said seventh aspect then has as an inventive characteristic that the synthetic material of the edge portions is applied after the substrate and the top layer already are provided on each other. Apart from that, such deviating variant, mutatis mutandis, comprises similar preferred embodiments as the actual seventh aspect.

With the same intention as the seventh aspect, the invention, according to an eighth independent aspect, also relates to a method for manufacturing panels, wherein these panels comprise at least a substrate and a top layer provided thereon, and wherein these panels, at least at one edge, comprise an edge portion of a synthetic material, different from the substrate material, wherein it is started from substrate material with a side for providing said top layer thereon, wherein the method comprises at least the following steps, namely, the step of realizing, on at least one edge of the substrate material, an edge zone of synthetic material, and the step of forming, from said edge zone, the final aforementioned edge portion, characterized in that the synthetic material is directly connected with the respective edge of the substrate material, preferably by hardening, wherein said edge zone extends to beyond the upper edge of the substrate on the side intended for providing said top layer thereon, and that the method further also comprises the step of providing said top layer, wherein this top layer extends at least up to or beyond said edge of the substrate material. It is clear that with said upper edge of the substrate material, an edge is intended which is situated in the plane of the side intended for providing the top layer thereon. By "an edge of the substrate material", it is meant that the substrate material is completely interrupted at the location of this edge. Such edge can be obtained, for example, by performing a recess, which in depth extends at least through the substrate material, or by means of a dividing treatment with which a larger substrate material is divided into smaller boards or panels.

Due to the fact that the edge zone extends to beyond the upper edge of the substrate material, by means of the same substrate material a larger surface of final panels can be obtained. This thus also means a saving on the substrate material per unit of panel surface. It is noted that the upper edge of the substrate material, as intended in the eighth aspect, possibly can be removed in treatments following to the application of the synthetic material of the edge zone. According to the eighth aspect, the edge zone is provided such that it extends to beyond the upper edge of the substrate material, wherein the position of the upper edge is determined in the condition of the substrate material at the moment when the edge zone was connected to the edge.

Preferably, the step of providing the top layer is performed partially or completely after said edge zone is obtained, and preferably before the final aforementioned edge portion is formed of the edge zone, for example, by means of a profiling operation.

Preferably, the synthetic material for the portion of the edge zone which extends beyond said upper edge is supported during hardening by means of an external auxiliary piece. Preferably, said auxiliary piece, together with the respective edge, forms a channel, for example, an approximately U-shaped channel, in which the still liquid or paste-like synthetic material can be provided. Preferably, the aforementioned external auxiliary piece, at the side thereof which comes into contact with the synthetic material, has good detachment properties in respect to the applied synthetic material. For example, in the case that use is made of the materials of the second aspect, this side may consist of silicon. For example, a silicon coating can be provided on the respective side.

Said external auxiliary piece preferably relates to a component of a transport device, such as, for example, a belt conveyor device. The belt or belts herein then can be made profiled in such a manner that they form the external auxiliary piece. When reversing the driving elements of the transport device, for example, when reversing the belts over a return pulley at the end of the transport device, then automatically a gradual detachment can take place between said auxiliary piece and the at least partially hardened edge zone.

It is clear that the method of the eighth aspect can be applied in an advantageous manner for obtaining panels which show the characteristics of the first, the second, the third, the fourth and/or the fifth aspect of the invention. In particular the particular variant mentioned in connection with the first aspect, wherein the attachment of the synthetic edge portion to the substrate is obtained by hardening of said synthetic material, however, wherein the attachment of the edge portion to the lower side of the top layer is obtained by means of an intermediate substance, such as glue, can be obtained preferably on the basis of a method with the characteristics of this eighth aspect. Preferably, the edge zone of the eighth aspect extends to beyond the upper edge over a distance which is larger than half of the thickness and still better larger than the thickness of the substrate material. In this manner, a maximum saving of the substrate material is realized. Preferably, the finally obtained panel shows the feature that the substrate, at the edge which comprises the synthetic edge portion, comprises a distal point, wherein the final edge portion extends beyond this distal point, preferably over a distance which is larger than half of the thickness of the substrate, or still better is larger than the thickness of the substrate. It is clear that the upper edge of the substrate material mentioned in the eighth aspect does not necessarily correspond to the herein above-mentioned distal point of the substrate. As aforementioned, it is possible that the upper edge, for example, is removed from the edge zone when shaping the synthetic material. Preferably, the top layer, in the final panel, extends in distal direction at least up to and still better beyond said distal point of the substrate. With the intention of obtaining an alternative method for manufacturing panels with a certain moisture resistance, the invention, according to an ninth independent aspect, relates to another method for manufacturing panels, wherein these panels comprise at least a substrate and a top layer provided thereon, and wherein these panels, at least at one edge, are provided with a profile and this profile comprises coupling means with which this panel can be coupled to other similar panels, such that in the coupled condition of two of such panels at the edge concerned a locking is obtained in a horizontal direction perpendicular to the edge and in the plane of the panel, as well as in a vertical direction perpendicular to the plane, wherein the method comprises at least the step of covering at least one of said profiled edges with a water-repellent substance, with the characteristic that said substance is provided calibrated on at least a portion of the profiled edge region and/or that the obtained covering is post-treated at least on a portion of the profiled edge region. By the calibrated applying and/or the post-treating of the covering layer, an increased accuracy of the coupling means is obtained. Preferably, said portion of the profiled edge region relates at least to a portion which, in a coupled condition of two of such panels, forms a contact surface, such as, for example, the contact surfaces responsible for the vertical locking and/or the contact surfaces responsible for the horizontal locking. Preferably, in coupled condition a locking without play is obtained, such that the upper edges of the coupled panels as well as all aforementioned contact surfaces, preferably at least the contact surfaces responsible for the horizontal locking, adjoin against each other. Possibly, a certain tension force can be applied, such as the tension force described in WO 97/47834 and known better as "pretension". Preferably, the calibrated application of said moisture-repellent substance is realized by applying a liquid or paste-like substance, which is dosed by means of a template on the respective portions of the edge region. The excessive material on the portions to be calibrated preferably is collected on adjacent portions of the profiled edge region and/or the lower side of the panel. Preferably, the respective adjacent portions, where the excessive material is collected, in coupled condition of two of such panels define a space or air chamber between the respective coupled edge regions.

According to a tenth independent aspect, the invention also relates to another method for manufacturing panels, wherein these panels comprise at least a substrate and a top layer provided thereon, and wherein these panels, at least at one edge, comprise an edge region of a synthetic material, different from the substrate material, with the characteristic that the method comprises at least the step of covering an edge, which extends transverse to the edge with the synthetic edge portion, with a water-repellent substance. The method of the invention is ideally suited for manufacturing the panels of the fifth independent aspect.

The presence of the edge portion on at least one edge allows obtaining the covering layer on the transverse edge in a more reliable manner. Providing the covering layer, namely, can be performed with a run-up and/or run-down on the lateral surface of the synthetic edge portion. Preferably, such lateral surface comprises a profile which corresponds to the profile of the edge to be covered. In the most preferred embodiment, the profile of the lateral surface corresponds completely to that of the edge to be covered, or it corresponds thereto at least to that extent that the covering device to be applied can remain operative on the respective lateral surface.

Preferably, an edge portion according to the tenth aspect is applied at two opposite edges of the panel, and the covering by means of the water-repellent substance preferably extends uninterruptedly between the lateral surfaces of both synthetic edge portions.

According to an eleventh independent aspect, the invention also relates to an alternative method, which offers similar results as the herein above-mentioned tenth aspect. According to this eleventh aspect, the invention relates to a method for manufacturing panels, wherein these panels comprise at least a substrate and a top layer provided thereon, with the characteristic that these panels are provided, at least at one edge, with a removable auxiliary piece and the method comprises at least the step of covering an edge, which extends transverse to the edge with the removable auxiliary piece, with a water-repellent substance. Preferably, the auxiliary piece, after performing the covering operation, is removed again and possibly re-used. The method of the invention is ideally suited for manufacturing the panels of the fifth independent aspect.

The presence of the auxiliary piece on at least one edge allows obtaining the covering layer on the transverse edge in a more reliable manner. Namely, applying the covering layer can be performed with a run-up and/or run-down on the lateral surface of the auxiliary piece. Preferably, such lateral surface shows a profile which corresponds to the profile of the edge to be covered. In the case that the edge where the auxiliary piece is provided, is provided with a profile, for example, with a profile of a portion of a coupling means, use can be made of an auxiliary piece which is complementary to or anyhow at least can cooperate with this profile. In such case, the auxiliary piece can also relate to an equal or similar floor panel, which comprises the complementary coupling means of the respective edge. In this manner, it is possible that not each time a run-up and/or run-down is required, for example, when in this manner, floor panels which are coupled together, for example, snapped together glue-free floor panels, are treated in a train of two or more one after the other with said water-repellent substance.

The presence of such auxiliary piece can also minimize or reduce the risk of staining of the edge in which it is provided. Such staining might occur, for example, with the absence of the auxiliary piece, during the run-up and/or run-down on protruding parts of the edge which extends transverse to the edge to be covered. Examples of such protruding parts are tongue parts or groove lips of coupling means present at this edge. A staining of this edge, more particularly of the coupling means present there, can lead to difficulties when coupling two of such panels at this edge and therefore best will be avoided. Preferably, an auxiliary piece according to the eleventh aspect is applied on two opposite edges of the panel, and the covering by means of the water-repellent substance preferably extends uninterruptedly between the lateral surfaces of both auxiliary pieces. It is clear that the tenth and eleventh aspect can be combined, wherein the auxiliary piece then preferably is provided on the edge with the synthetic edge portion.

Preferably, for applying the water-repellent substance a method is applied with the characteristics of the ninth independent aspect. For the water-repellent substance of the covering layers, for example, use can be made of a hot-melt glue, such as a hot-melt glue based on polyurethane, a thermoplastic polyurethane glue or an irreversibly hardening polyurethane glue, and/or a synthetic material which is formed on the basis of a plurality of components, and/or a polyamide-based synthetic material or hot-melt glue. Preferably, an irreversibly hardening, for example, thermo-hardening, substance is used, which, in liquid or paste-like form, is provided on the respective edge to be covered and hardens there.

Preferably, the panel of the invention, according to all aspects thereof, comprises a printed decor. Herein, this may relate to a decor printed on a carrier material, such as on a paper or synthetic material sheet, or to a decor which, by a possible intermediary of primer layers, is obtained by performing a print on said substrate. For the synthetic material sheet, use can be made of a PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), PE (PolyEthylene) or PUR (PolyURethane) film. Of course, it is not excluded that use might be made of another decor than with a printed decor, such as cork, linoleum, a wood veneer or other wooden top layer. Preferably, the top layer, according to all aspects of the invention, has a thickness of at least 0.5 millimeters. Such top layer is ideal for obtaining a waterproofing effect immediately underneath the top layer. In the case of an edge portion of synthetic material, it can extend into the top layer. In the case of a water-repellent substance, the latter can extend up onto the lateral edge of the top layer, without necessarily having to extend up to the upper edge of the panel.

In particular the ninth aspect and/or the eleventh aspect and the preferred embodiments thereof are also of particular interest when use is made of thinner top layers, such as with typical laminate panels, wherein the top layer consists, for example, of one or more carriers provided with resin, amongst which, for example, a decorative layer or decor paper and/or a protective layer, such as an overlay, provided above the decor. Such top layer then has a thickness smaller than 0.5 millimeters, or even smaller than 0.3 millimeters. In such case, the water-repellent substance or the covering layer preferably also extends at least onto the lateral edge of the top layer. If this is not the case, the water-repellent substance preferably extends up to a distance underneath the lateral edge of the top layer, wherein then possibly a separate sealing can be provided at least of the edge portion between the uppermost point of the water-repellent substance or the covering layer, and the lateral edge of the top layer. Such separate sealing can also be realized by means of a hardening substance applied in liquid condition, however, preferably to this aim a material applied in hard condition is used, such as a sealing strip or layer, such as a, whether or not visible, strip or a sealing layer provided by means of transfer printing. A separate sealing on the basis of a material applied in hard condition leads to a lesser risk of staining of the upper surface, and a possible staining will be simpler to remove.

The ninth and/or eleventh aspect can be applied very smoothly with floor panels with said thinner top layers or other top layers, when these floor panels at the surface, next to the edge to be treated, are provided with an edge surface situated lower in respect to the global surface. Such edge surface can be performed, for example, as a chamfer. Preferably, the top layer extends uninterruptedly, however, possibly made thinner, over said lower-situated edge surface. The presence of a lower-situated edge surface can mask a possible staining of the upper surface. Preferably, the invention, according to all aspects, is applied for panels of which the respective edge or edges are provided with a profile and said profile comprises coupling means with which said panel can be coupled to other similar panels, such that, in the coupled condition of two of such panels, at the respective edge a locking is obtained in a horizontal direction perpendicular to the edge and in the plane of the panel, as well as in a vertical direction perpendicular to the plane. Preferably, these coupling means are performed as a male coupling part at one of the aforementioned edges and a female coupling part at the opposite edge, wherein these coupling parts can be provided in each other by means of a turning movement along the respective edge, by means of a shifting movement in substantially horizontal direction of the panel edges towards each other and/or by means of a downward movement of the male coupling part towards the female coupling part. Preferably, said female coupling part is formed at a flange which extends on the respective edge in horizontal direction, preferably beyond the top layer, and forms a seat for the male coupling part, whereas said male coupling part is formed at a flange which is situated on the upper side of the panel and, on the lower side, comprises a profile which can cooperate with said seat. Preferably, the male coupling part substantially is performed as a tongue, whereas the female coupling part substantially is performed as a groove, flanked by an upper and a lower lip, wherein said lower lip then forms part of said flange. In such case, the tongue and groove are performed such that they offer, by their cooperation, at least said locking in vertical direction. Preferably, the upper and/or the lower lip comprises locking parts which cooperate with corresponding locking parts on said tongue, such that hereby said locking in horizontal direction can be obtained.

It is clear that according to all aspects preferably a substrate is applied with a moisture-sensitive substrate, such as a substrate containing wood particles, such as wood chips and/or wood fibers, bonded by a binding agent. Such substrate materials are, for example, wood particle board, wood fiberboard, such as MDF or HDF (Medium or High Density Fiberboard). The moisture-sensitivity of substrates with wood particles is determined in particular by the weight ratio between wood particles and binding agent. In practice, it has been found that a certain moisture- sensitivity already is immanent when this weight ratio is 5:95 (wood:binding agent). With such weight ratio, one would rather speak about synthetic material filled with wood particles, so-called WPCs (Wood Plastic Composites). This moisture- sensitivity increases when the amount of wood particles increases. In the case of DF and HDF, at least 75 percent by weight of wood is applied, whereby a high moisture-sensitivity is created, even when this relates to MDF or HDF of the waterproof type. The moisture-sensitivity of all these substrates expresses itself by the capacity of absorbing water and by showing, as a result of this absorption, a swelling in thickness, whether homogenous or exclusively on the edges.

Possibly, the substrate material is realized pigmented, preferably in a color matching the applied top layer, or a component thereof. In the case that a back layer is applied in the top layer, preferably adapted, matching or corresponding to the color of this back layer.

Where in all aspects a water-repellent substance is mentioned, preferably use is made of a substance applied in liquid or paste-like form, which hardens or dries on the panel. For example, use can be made of a substance which comprises paraffin, wax, UV-lacquer, a fluorinated polymer or copolymer, or hot-melt glue. Preferably, use is made of an irreversibly hardening, for example, thermally hardening, substance, which, in liquid or paste-like form, is provided on the respective edge to be covered and hardens there, such as a polyurethane- or polyamide-based synthetic material and/or hot-melt glue.

In the case that for the water-repellent substance, a hot-melt glue is applied, preferably a hot-melt glue, such as a thermo-hardening, polyurethane- or polyamide-based hot-melt glue, is applied with a setting time of less than half a minute or still better of less than 10 seconds, for example, of 5 seconds or less.

Where in all aspects an edge portion is mentioned, a structural edge portion is meant. It is clear that an edge portion cannot be confused with a superficial covering by means of a substance which as such does not show any strength. Preferably, such edge portion extends perpendicular to the profiled edge region over a distance of at least 1 or 2 millimeters. In the case of a superficial covering, such covering preferably extends perpendicular to the profiled edge region over a distance of less than 0.3 millimeters.

According to all aspects, the present invention relates to floor panels or other panels, which as such are rigid and thus as such cannot be wound up. Preferably, the final panel has a thickness of more than 5 millimeters, however, preferably of less than 15 millimeters. A good value for the thickness is 7 to 10 millimeters. Such panels are very suitable for providing mechanical coupling means thereon, which allow to couple two of more of such panels to each other at their edges. Preferably, herein use is made of mechanical coupling means, such as of the type which is known from document WO 97/47834. It is clear that also the possible larger boards, from which a plurality of such floor panels are formed, and the substrates as such are rigid. Preferably, the floor panels, boards and substrates are so rigid that they bend less than 10 centimeters per meter under their own weight, when they are supported on one edge only.

With the intention of better showing the characteristics of the invention, hereafter, as an example without any limitative character, some preferred embodiments are described, with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein: Figure 1 represents a panel, more particularly a floor panel, with the characteristics of, amongst others, the first aspect of the invention;

Figure 2 in cross-section represents a view according to the line ll-ll represented in figure 1 ;

Figure 3, at a larger scale, represents a view on the area indicated by F3 in figure 2;

Figure 4 in cross-section represents a view according to the line IV-IV represented in figure 1 ;

Figures 5 and 6, in a similar view as that of figure 2, represent variants; Figure 7 in perspective represents an installation method which can be applied with the panels of the invention;

Figure 8 schematically represents some steps in a method with, amongst others, the characteristics of the seventh aspect of the invention;

Figure 9 also represents some steps for a variant of the method from figure

8;

Figures 10 to 12, at a larger scale, represent a view on the area indicated by F10 in figure 8;

Figure 13, in a view similar to that of figure 2, represents another variant of a floor panel with, amongst others, the characteristics of the second aspect of the invention;

Figure 14 schematically represents a method with the characteristics of, amongst others, the ninth aspect of the invention; Figure 15 represents a view according to the line XV-XV represented on figure 14;

Figure 16, at a larger scale, represents a view on the area indicated by F16 in figure 15;

Figure 17 represents a view according to the arrow F 7 represented I figure

14;

Figures 18 to 20, in a view similar to that of figure 2, represent still other variants of the present invention;

Figure 21 , at a larger scale, represents a view on the area indicated by F21 in figure 15;

Figure 22, in a view equivalent to the right-hand part of figure 4, represents still another embodiment with, amongst others, the characteristics of the ninth aspect of the present invention;

Figure 23 represents a view according to the arrow F23 represented in figure 10;

Figure 24 represents a view according to the arrow F24 represented in figure 14;

Figure 25 schematically represents some steps in a method with, amongst others, the characteristics of the eighth aspect mentioned in the introduction;

Figure 26, at a larger scale, represents a view on the area indicated by F26 in figure 25; and

Figures 27 to 29, in a similar view, represent variants. Figure 1 represents a floor panel 1 with the characteristics of, amongst others, the first aspect of the invention. In this case, this relates to a rectangular and oblong floor panel 1 with a pair of long sides or edges 2-3 and a pair of short sides or edges 4-5. Figure 2 represents that the floor panel 1 is of the type which comprises at least a substrate 6 and a top layer 7 provided thereon. In the example, the top layer 7 has a thickness T of at least 0.5 millimeters. Here, this relates specifically to an annealed thermoplastic top layer, which substantially consists of PVC. Figure 3 shows that the thermoplastic top layer 7 preferably as such is composed of a back layer 8, a provided-thereon motif 9 and a transparent or translucent wear layer 10. Herein, the back layer 8 preferably takes up a thickness T1 of more than 45 percent of the overall thickness T of the top layer 7. In this case, the back layer 8 consists of a layer of soft recycled PVC, which is filled with chalk. The back layer 8 as such has a higher density of said transparent or translucent layer 10. In this case, the motif 9 is provided on a carrier 11. This relates to a printed PVC film. For the transparent or translucent wear layer 10 preferably a PVC layer is applied having a thickness T 2 of minimum 0.2 millimeters. Preferably, the PVC layer is not thicker than 0.6 millimeters. The inventors have found that a thickness T2 of 0.3 to 0.4 millimeters offers a good wear resistance. The common thickness T of said top layer 7 preferably is between 1.5 and 3 millimeters, wherein a thickness T of .7 to 2.5 millimeters is desirable.

For the substrate 6 of the floor panel 1 of figure 1 , use is made of a substrate 6 which comprises wood particles, in this case wood fibers, bonded by a binding agent, such as MDF or HDF. Preferably, the applied substrate material has a residual moisture content of less than 10 percent by weight. Instead of MDF or HDF, also a substrate with low density can be chosen, for example, with less than 600 kilograms per cubic meter. This may relate, for example, to a wood-based material which comprises wood fibers which are obtained from recycled wood and which are also bonded by a binding agent. A wood particle board may also be opted for.

On the lower side of the substrate 6, an underlying layer 12 or backing layer is situated. In this case, the backing layer comprises thermoplastic synthetic material. Preferably, for the backing layer or underlying layer 12 PVC, preferably recycled PVC, is applied, filled with chalk. In principle, for the backing layer or underlying layer 12, a similar composition can be applied as for the back layer 8 situated in the top layer 7.

The substrate 6 preferably is performed pigmented in a color corresponding to the color of said back layer 8, for example both the substrate 6 and the back layer 8 in black or both in white.

The floor panel 1 from figures 1 to 4 shows, amongst others, the characteristics of the first aspect, in that it comprises, at least on one edge 4, in this case, on both opposite edges of the short pair of edges 4-5, an edge portion 13 of synthetic material, wherein this synthetic material is different from the substrate material 6. Herein, the synthetic material extends at least over 80 percent of the thickness T3 of the substrate. The attachment of the edge portion 13 to the substrate material 6 is obtained by hardening said synthetic material of the respective portion of the substrate material 6. In this case, by the hardening of the synthetic material also an adherence is obtained to the lower side of the top layer 7 and to the lateral edges 14 of the backing layer 12.

Figure 2 represents that the connection between the edge portion 13 and the substrate material 6 extends over a boundary surface 15, which comprises partial surfaces 16 extending transverse to the normal of the surface 17 of the panel 1. In this case, the respective partial surfaces 16 respectively extend approximately horizontal. This is not necessarily so, and use can be made of inclined partial surfaces and/or bent boundary surfaces. The example illustrates also the characteristics of the third aspect of the invention, in that the respective edge 4 of the substrate material 6 is formed exclusively of said edge portion 13. Moreover, by the choice of the substrate material 6, namely, with a residual moisture content of less than 10 percent by weight, the example also shows the characteristics of the fourth aspect of the invention mentioned in the introduction.

For the synthetic material of the edge portions 13, use is made of a material obtained on the basis of a two-component system, such that also the characteristics of the second aspect are met. Preferably, a polyurethane is applied, obtained on the basis of the components polyol and isocyanate. By means of this material, a chemical bond to the wood particles of the substrate 6 can be obtained. Moreover, the polyurethane preferably shows the characteristics of a thermo- hardening polymer. By choosing an annealed thermoplastic top layer 7, the example also shows the characteristics of the sixth independent aspect of the invention, mentioned in the introduction.

Figure 2 represents that the respective edges 4-5 are made profiled and that this profile comprises coupling means 18, with which this panel 1 can be coupled to other similar panels 1 , such as represented in dashed line 19. In the coupled condition, not represented here, a locking in a horizontal direction H1 perpendicular to the edge and in the plane of the panel 1 , as well as in a vertical direction V1 perpendicular to the plane is obtained. The coupling means 18 represented here substantially are performed as a tongue 20 and a groove 21 , bordered by a lower lip 22 and an upper lip 23. For obtaining the locking in horizontal direction H1 , the tongue 20 and groove 21 are provided with cooperating locking parts 24-25, in this case in the form of a protrusion 24 on the lower side of the tongue 20 and a recess 25 in the lower groove lip 23. In this case, the tongue profile can be introduced into the groove 21 at least by a turning movement W along the respective edge for obtaining the coupled condition. Preferably, the coupling means 18 also allow other coupling movements, such as a coupling by means of a substantially vertical shifting movement of the panels 1 towards each other. It is clear that also on the long sides 2-3 of the floor panel 1 use can be made of edge portions 13, as illustrated by means of figure 2.

Figure 4 represents that in this case on the other pair of opposite edges 2-3, in this case on the long sides 2-3 of the floor panel 1 , other provisions are taken for reducing the water-sensitivity thereof. In this case, use is made of a covering 26 of the profiled edge regions on the basis of a water-repellent substance, such as a hot-melt glue. In the example, this covering 26 extends along the long sides 2-3 of the floor panel 1 at least over the complete distance between the edge portions 13 of the short pair of edges 2-3. Herein, this relates to a covering 26, which has been provided calibrated at least on a portion of the profiled edge region, such that the coupling means 18 and locking parts 24-25 are not or almost not hindered when performing the coupling movement. Preferably, in coupled condition a gap of less than 0.2 millimeters is obtained between the upper edges 27 of the panels 1 , and still better no gap. Preferably, in coupled condition a height difference between the upper edges 27 is obtained of less than 0.2 or 0.1 millimeter, and still better no height difference, which means a height difference of 0.05 millimeters or less.

In the example of figure 4, the covering 26 is applied at least calibrated on a portion of the profiled edge region, which, in a coupled condition of two such panels 1 , forms a contact surface 28-29-30-31. In the present case, this is provided at least calibrated on the contact surfaces 28-29 responsible for the vertical locking V1 and on the contact surfaces 30-31 responsible for the horizontal locking H

According to the example of figure 4, on the long pair of opposite edges 2-3 similar coupling means 18 are applied as on the short pair of opposite edges 4-5, in that they also allow a coupling at least by means of a turning movement W along the respective edges. However, this is not necessarily so, and it is possible that coupling by turning is only possible on the long pair of edges 2-3, whereas the short pair of edges 4-5, for example, allows at least a coupling by means of a substantially horizontal shifting movement.

According to a particular embodiment, the floor panel 1 is provided, on the short pair of edges 4-5, with coupling means 18, which allow a coupling by means of a downward movement N of the coupling means on the one edge 4 in the coupling means on the other edge 5. Figure 5 shows an example of a coupled condition of two panels 1 , which are provided with such coupling means 18. Herein, the coupling means 18 are realized as a male coupling part 32 and a female coupling part 33, wherein the male coupling part 32 can be provided in the female coupling part 33 by means of said downward movement N. In this case, the coupling means 18 further comprise a movable tongue portion 34 and an undercut 35 cooperating therewith, which at least partially provide for a locking in vertical direction V1. In this case, the movable tongue portion 34 is situated on the male coupling part 32, and said undercut 35 is provided on the female coupling part 33. However, it is not excluded that this may be reversed. In the case of figure 5, the movability of the tongue portion 34 is obtained at least by means of a free space 36 provided behind the tongue portion 34, by which this tongue portion 34 during coupling can be moved in proximal direction. Towards the end of the coupling movement N, the tongue portion 34 penetrates into said undercut 35. Instead of working with a tongue portion 34 which automatically is placed in said undercut 35 when performing the coupling movement N, it can also be worked with a tongue portion 34 which still requires a separate operation before an effective locking in vertical direction V1 is obtained. For example, it is possible that such tongue portion 34, after performing the downward movement N, still has to be shifted in a direction parallel to the edges 4-5 to be coupled. This can be performed, for example, by the installing person, or by the intermediary of a panel 1 which is still to be installed, for example, in a subsequent row. Such coupling means 18 are known as such, for example, from WO 2009/116926.

In the example of figure 5, at the male coupling part 32 a synthetic edge portion 13 is used which covers less than 80 percent of the profiled contour of the substrate material 6, however, in fact 100 percent of the thickness of the substrate material 6. Thus, the respective edge 4 is not formed exclusively by the synthetic material of the edge portion 13. Figure 5 forms an illustration of, for example, the second, fourth and sixth aspect thereof. A particularity of the profiled edge region is here that the exposed surfaces 37 of the substrate material 6 are situated beyond a pair of vertically active contact surfaces 28-29 and in downward direction are bordered by the synthetic edge portion 13, such that a small amount of water or other moisture seeping into the connection can reach the substrate material 6 only very difficult. In this case, the exposed surfaces 37 of the substrate material 6 are situated beyond the contact surfaces 28-29 at the upper side of the tongue portion 34, as well as beyond the contact surfaces 28-29 at the lower side of this tongue portion 34.

Figure 6 shows another example of coupled floor panels 1 , which are provided with coupling means 18, which can be provided in each other by means of a downward movement N. In this case, the movability of the tongue portion 34 is obtained at least partially in that the edge portion 13 comprises at least two portions 38-39 of different synthetic material of different elasticity. In this case, the movability is obtained by the cooperation of the free space 36 provided behind the tooth portion 34 and the more flexible portion 38 of the synthetic material on which the tooth portion 34 is suspended.

With reference to figure 6, it is also noted that the invention according to a first particular, independent aspect also relates to a panel 1 of the type which comprises at least a substrate 6 and a top layer 7 provided thereon, wherein this panel 1 , on at least one edge 4, comprises an edge portion 13 of synthetic material, different from the substrate material 6, with the characteristic that the synthetic material consists of at least two portions 38-39 with different flexibility and/or hardness. Preferably, for both portions 38-39, polyurethane is applied, as the hardness and/or flexibility of this polymer is easy to adjust. Preferably, the synthetic material comprises a substantially planar boundary surface 40 between the two portions 38-39 of different flexibility, and still better a substantially horizontal boundary surface 40, which means substantially parallel to the upper surface 17. Preferably, the flexibility of the portions 38-39 is expressed by means of the elasticity modulus of the respective synthetic material, wherein preferably a difference is present between the elasticity moduli of the different flexible parts 38- 39 of 10 to 50 percent or more. According to another possibility, the flexibility is expressed by means of the maximum stretch of the respective synthetic material, wherein preferably a difference is present between the maximum stretch of the different flexible portions 38-39 of 10 to 50% or more. Of course, the invention, according to this particular, independent aspect, further also may show the characteristics of one or more of the aspects mentioned in the introduction, or of the preferred embodiments thereof. Moreover, such panels can be manufactured by means of the methods mentioned there. It is clear that the more flexible portion of the edge portion 38 can facilitate, such as here, the mutual engagement of the coupling means. According to another example, this more flexible portion can provide for a watertight finishing on or immediately underneath the surface of the coupled panels, wherein the more flexible portion then serves as a sealing strip or sealing ring next to the upper edges of the coupled panels.

Figure 7 illustrates how panels 1 can be coupled, wherein these panels 1 , at the long sides 2-3, are provided with coupling means 18 which allow at least a coupling by means of a turning movement W, and, at the short sides 4-5, are provided with coupling means 18 which allow at least a coupling by means of a downward movement N. As represented, they can be joined together by means of a single fold-down movement N, wherein the long sides 2-3 are turned into each other and automatically a downward coupling movement N is created at the short sides 4-5. In the figure, it can be seen clearly that, when performing the coupling movement N, friction may occur between the top layers 7 at the short sides 4-5. Hereby, there exists a risk of delamination of the top layers 7. By applying edge portions 13, which are attached to the top layer 7 by hardening, this risk can be minimized.

Figure 8 illustrates some steps S1-S5 in a method with the characteristics of the seventh aspect of the invention. It is noted that according to figure 8, the panels 1 are manufactured with their decorative side or upper surface 17 downward. However, this is not necessarily the case. Herein, it is started from larger boards 41 of substrate material, on which in a first step S1 at least a larger top layer material 42 is provided, for example, by means of an adhesive layer. In this case also a larger backing layer material 43 is provided, before the obtained semifinished product 44 in a second step S2 is left blank, for example, incised, at least at the locations where a synthetic edge portion 13 must be realized. In a subsequent third step S3, the material of the synthetic edge portions 13 is applied, for example, by means of a casting process. Preferably at least after the synthetic edge portions 13 substantially have hardened, the larger semi-finished products 44 in a fourth step S4 are divided into panels 1 having approximately the dimensions of the final panels 1 , and the edges 4-5 of these panels 1 , in a fifth step S5, are provided with a profile, for example, by means of the milling techniques known as such from WO 97/47834. Finally, a panel is obtained, wherein the top layer 7 is connected to the substrate substantially by means of an adhesive layer and wherein the top layer 7, at the location of one or more edges, in this case at the opposite short edges 4-5, is connected to the edge portions 13 present there by hardening of the synthetic material of these edge portions 13.

Figure 9 illustrates a variant of the method of the seventh aspect, wherein the larger backing layer material 43 only is applied after the material of the synthetic edge portions 13 already has been provided on the semi-finished products 44.

Figure 10 represents alternative recesses 45 or incisions for applying the material of the synthetic edge portion 13. As an incision is applied at an angle A with the normal on the surface 17, material savings can be realized. Figure 1 represents still other alternative recesses 45 or incisions. According to figure 11 at least two incisions at a different angle A-B are used, by which a still better adaptation to the profiled edge region can be achieved and further material savings can be realized. Figure 2 represents that, for obtaining still further material savings, a form mold 46 can be applied, which borders the recess 45, for example, such as here at least at the lower side of the tongue 20. It is clear that the form mold 46 herein forms an example of the press-on element mentioned introduction, which can be applied when hardening the synthetic material of the edge portions 13. At the lower side of the groove 21 , of course also a, whether or not formed, press-on element can be applied. The press-on element applied on the tongue 20 and the groove 21 can form part of the same larger press-on element.

Further, it is clear that, although in the figures respectively separate recesses 45 or incisions are represented for tongue 20 and groove 21 of panels 1 which are adjacent in the semi-finished product 44, use may also be made of a larger recess, which serves for applying the synthetic material of the edge portion 13 for forming the tongue 20, as well as for forming the groove 21.

Figure 13 represents another particular variant of the present invention, wherein on at least two opposite edges 4-5 of a panel 1 , a water-damming barrier 47 is provided between the profiled edge regions and the actual substrate material 6. Such barrier 47 can be achieved by incisions at an angle, as described by means of figure 10. The particularity of the present embodiment is that the substrate material 6A on the profiled edge region is unprotected, but still a pushing-up of the top layer 7 by swelling of this material 6A is avoided. Any moisture seeping in can be absorbed by the substrate material 6A in a limited manner only. It is clear that the present embodiment shows or can show the characteristics of, amongst others, the second, fourth and sixth aspects. Figure 13 further illustrates a second particular, independent aspect of the invention, which can be defined as a panel 1 of the type which comprises at least a substrate 6 and a top layer 7 provided thereon, wherein this panel 1 , on at least one edge 4, comprises an edge portion 13 of synthetic material, different from the substrate material 6, with the characteristic that the respective edge 4 comprises an external portion of the substrate material 6A and that said synthetic material forms a complete water- damming barrier 47 between the respective edge 4 and the internal portion of the substrate material 6. Preferably, the edge portion 13 extends to close to or into the top layer 7 of the panel 1 , such that no substrate material 6A is present between the edge portion 13 and the top layer 7. It is self-evident that the recesses 45 of figures 10 to 13 can be applied in a method according to figure 8 as well as figure 9. Preferably, the incisions performed in a method according to the invention always leave a portion of the thickness T of the top layer 7 intact, such that the still liquid or paste-like material of the synthetic edge portions 13 always remains enclosed in the semi-finished product 44. In the case of a top layer 7 with a back layer, the incision preferably is not made deeper than this back layer. Figure 14 schematically illustrates a method with the characteristics of the tenth aspect of the invention. The invention comprises the step S6 of covering an edge 3, which extends transverse to the edge 4 with the synthetic edge portion 13, with a water-repellent substance 48. This method allows a certain play when starting or stopping the covering device 49. Namely, the run-up and run-down can take place on the lateral surfaces of the synthetic edge portions 13. Preferably, such method is performed in a continuous process, wherein the panel 1 moves along the covering device 49, as indicated by arrow D. Such covering device 49 can be integrated, for example, in an edge treatment machine, which provides the profiled edge regions on the same edges 2-3, for example, by means of two or more successive milling treatments, as known from WO 97/47834. Preferably, on both opposite edges 2-3 such covering device 49 is placed for realizing a covering 26 with water-repellent substance 48 according to the invention.

Figure 15 represents a cross-section of the covering device 49. Herein, this relates to a covering device 49, which applies the substance 48 at least on a portion of the profiled edge region in a calibrated manner. In this case, the covering device 49 is illustrated at the groove 21. It is evident that similar covering devices 49, such as further set forth below, can be applied at the tongue 20.

Figures 15 and 16 represent that the covering device 49 comprises a portion which, to this aim, is performed as a form mold 50 along which the respective profiled edge region, or at least the portions thereof chosen for the calibrated application, can slide with a well-defined intermediate distance D, for example, of less than 0.3 millimeters. In this case, the water-repellent substance 48, for example, a hot-melt glue, is provided calibrated over the entire contour of the profiled substrate material 6. Said form mold 50 preferably, such as here, is performed such that it touches the top layer 7. In this manner, it is prevented that the water-repellent substance 48 can reach the upper surface 17 of the panel 1 , and/or that the water-repellent substance 48 finally interferes with the adjacent upper edges 27 of coupled panels 1. Such measure preferably is also taken when the substance 48 is provided calibrated only on portions of the profiled edge portion.

The covering device 49 comprises an internal chamber 51 , in which, via an entrance opening 52, water-repellent substance 48 is provided. The water- repellent substance 48 exits the internal chamber 51 via a slot-shaped opening 53.

Figure 17 represents that immediately after the slot-shaped opening 53, the respective profiled edge region again slides along the form mold 50, such that calibration can be obtained on the desired portions of the profiled edge region.

Figure 18 represents a variant of the panels 1 of the invention, wherein on the same profiled edge region use is made of a synthetic edge portion 13 as well as of a covering 26 by means of a water-repellent substance 48. Herein, the covering 26 with the water-repellent substance 48 is performed for making a portion of substrate material 6 water-repellent, which portion is situated between the synthetic material portion 13 and the top layer 13. By the cooperation of both measures 13 and 26, in this case, too, a completely watertight edge 4 is obtained. The covering 26 preferably extends, such as here, up to over the transition 54 between substrate material 6 and top layer 7, and up to over the transition 55 between substrate material 6 and edge portion 13.

Figure 19 represents another example of a possible combination of both measures 13 and 26. Herein, a portion of the substrate material 6, which is situated underneath the synthetic edge portion 13, is provided with a covering 36 with water-repellent substance 48. Here, too, the covering 26 is performed such that it extends beyond the transition 56 between substrate material 6 and underlying layer 12, and beyond the transition 55 between substrate material 6 and edge portion 13.

Figure 20 represents still another particular embodiment of a panel 1 with the characteristics of the invention. Herein, the invention is applied with a panel 1 which, at the surface 17, next to the edges 4-5 thereof, is provided with an edge surface 57 situated lower in respect to the global panel surface 17. In this case, the edge surface 57 is performed as a chamfer with a bent surface, wherein the top layer 7 extends uninterruptedly over this edge surface 57. The synthetic edge portion 13, at the location of this lower-situated edge surface 57, extends into the lateral edge 58 of the edge surface 57.

A particularity of figure 20 is also that the invention here is applied specifically for a panel 1 with a top layer 7 which is thinner than 0.5 millimeters. In this case, it relates to a top layer 7 on the basis of two paper sheets 59-60 soaked in resin, amongst which a decorative paper sheet 60 and a transparent paper sheet 59 situated there above, as is usual with laminate panels of the DPL type (Direct Pressure Laminate). As a backing layer, also a paper sheet 61 soaked in resin is applied. For obtaining synthetic edge portions 13 on laminate panels of the DPL type, preferably use is made of a method as illustrated by means of figure 8.

With reference to figures 5, 6 and 7, it is also noted that the invention according to a third particular, independent aspect also relates to a panel 1 of the type which comprises at least a substrate 6 and a thermoplastic top layer 7 provided thereon, with the characteristic that this panel 1 , on at least two opposite edges 4-5, is provided with coupling means 18, which can be connected to each other by means of a downward coupling movement N, such that a locking is created in a horizontal direction H1 as well as in a vertical direction V , wherein these coupling means 18 are at least partially performed in a material comprising thermo-hardening synthetic material. The material which comprises thermo-hardening synthetic material can be, for example, polyurethane or MDF, HDF or wood particle board. Preferably, the panel 1 of this particular aspect further also shows the characteristics of one or more of the also above-mentioned aspects, inasmuch as they are not contradictory. Herein, then a synthetic edge portion 13 on the basis of thermo-hardening synthetic material can be applied.

It is noted that according to all aspects of the invention, preferably use is made of coupling means 18 which are made in one piece in the substrate material 6 and/or the material of the synthetic edge portion 13. However, it is not excluded that use should be made of separate material portions which form part of the coupling means. For example, in the case of coupling means 18 which allow a coupling by means of a downward movement N, use can be made of a tongue portion 34 which consists of one or more plastic strips, which are provided in a recess provided for this purpose.

Figures 2, 3, 5 through 13, and 19 illustrate a further independent inventive concept. The figures represent a panel 1 , wherein this panel 1 is of the type which comprises at least a substrate 6 and a top layer 7 provided thereon, wherein this top layer 7 has a substantially uniform thickness, with as an inventive characteristic that said top layer 7, at the location of one or more edges, preferably at least at two opposite edges 4-5, of the panel 1 is made thinner. At the lower side of the respective thinner section 62 of the top layer 7, then the substrate material 13 and/or the possible edge portions 13 are attached. The same figures also illustrate another independent inventive concept. They represent a panel of the type which comprises at least a substrate 6 and a top layer 7 provided thereon, wherein this top layer 7 is connected to the substrate 6 substantially by means of an adhesive layer, with as an inventive characteristic that said top layer 7, at the location of one or more edges, preferably at least at two opposite edges 4-5, of the panel 1 , is connected to the substrate and/or the edge portions 13 possibly present there by hardening of the substrate and/or the edge portions 13 possibly present there.

Said independent inventive concepts, each individually as well as in combination, are of interest for achieving an increased resistance against delamination of the top layer 7 at the edges 4-5 of the panel 1. Namely, there is a risk of such delamination, for example, when manufacturing the panels 1 , when the edges 4-5 of the panel 1 are provided with a profile by means of cutting treatments, such as milling operations. A risk of delamination also exists during installation, in particular when the panels 1 , when the respective edges 4-5 are coupled, rub against each other with their top layers 7, such as can be the case, for example, when the coupling means 18 can be connected to each other by means of a downward coupling movement N. Preferably, this relates to a downward coupling movement obtained, as illustrated by means of figure 7, namely by means of a turning movement W around the other pair of edges 2-3. It is not excluded that the downward coupling movement N must be completed by a separate operation for realizing an effective locking in vertical direction V1 , as set forth above. A risk of delamination also exists in the use of a floor covering which is composed of panels 1 and, for example, is present in a pronounced manner underneath the castors of office chairs.

Said independent concepts lead to a reduced risk of delamination in that the measures of these concepts, each individually or in combination, may lead to an improved adherence between the top layer 7 and the underlying material of the substrate 7 or the edge portion 13. In the case of oblong panels 1 , this risk of delamination is in particular present at the short edges 4-5, and said independent concepts thus preferably are applied at least at these short edges 4-5. At the long edges 2-3, they may be redundant, and the top layer, at the location of one or more of these long edges, can have the global thickness thereof and/or be connected, by means of an adhesive layer, to the substrate and/or the edge portions 13 possibly present there. Preferably, on the long edges 2-3 no such edge portions 13 are present, and the profile of these long edges 2-3 is formed in the substrate material 6. Possibly, in fact a covering layer 26 can be provided on this profile, for example, of the type illustrated by means of figure 4.

It is clear that said independent inventive concepts can be combined with the remaining aspects of the invention or the preferred embodiments thereof, inasmuch as there are no contradictions here between. For example, it is clear that such panel 1 , on the respective edge 4, can comprise an edge portion 13 of synthetic material, different from the substrate material 6, and that the synthetic material extends, for example, at least over 80 percent of the thickness T3 of the substrate 6 or the entire thickness T3 thereof, wherein the attachment of the edge portion 13 to the substrate 5 and/or the provided top layer 7 is at least partially obtained by hardening said synthetic material. Preferably, the top layer 7 relates to a thermoplastic layer with a motif 9 and/or printed decor, for example, an annealed or relaxed thermoplastic layer. Preferably, a composition is applied similar to that illustrated by means of figure 3.

Figure 21 represents that the form mold 50 of the covering device 49 preferably comprises an outlet opening 63, which allows that the excessive material of the water-repellent substance 48 can flow off towards the lower side of the panel 1. Such embodiment allows performing the calibrated providing of the covering 26 on the entire contour of the profiled edge region or portions thereof in a reliable and smooth manner.

In the case that the ninth aspect is applied with thinner top layers 7, such as with top layers 7 of the type as represented in figure 20 and as represented in figure 22, the water-repellent substance or the covering 26 preferably extends up to a distance underneath the lateral edge of the top layer 7, wherein then possibly, such as here, a separate sealing 64 can be provided at least from the edge portion between the uppermost point of the water-repellent substance or the covering 26, and the lateral edge of the top layer 7. In this case, the separate covering 26 extends up to the upper edge 27 of the floor panel 1. When, such as here, said covering layer 26 covers the entire remaining contour portion of the substrate material 6 on the respective edge, in cooperation with said separate sealing 64 still a completely watertight edge is obtained. In this case, the covering layer 26 is provided calibrated at least on the contact surfaces 29-31 and extends overlapping with the lowermost portion of said separate sealing 64. It is clear that such embodiment preferably further also shows one or more of the preferred characteristics of the ninth aspect.

As mentioned in the introduction, one or more recesses 45, for example, the recesses 45 of figures 8 through 12, preferably are bordered in all directions of the plane of the semi-finished product 44. Figures 8 through 12 clearly show that the recesses are bordered in the directions transverse to the longitudinal direction of the respective recesses by, amongst others, the substrate material 6. It is clear that such bordering can also exist in the direction perpendicular to the plane of the respective figures. Figure 23 represents various variants therefor. The uppermost recess 45 of figure 23 represents that such recess 45 can be bordered by the substrate material 6 and/or the other material of the semi-finished product, for example, by the top layer material 42 and/or the backing layer material 43. The lowermost recess 45 represents a variant, wherein this recess 45 is bordered by a separate covering element 65. This covering element 65 can consist, for example, of a component of a transport device, such as a driving cam. It is also possible that the separate covering element 65, to a certain extent, penetrates into the recess 45, as represented with the right-hand covering element 65A. Further, the separate covering element 65-65A can be provided with sealing means, such as an O-ring or the like, which minimizes or even prevents a possible flowing off of the synthetic material during casting.

Figure 24 represents an illustrative example of the eleventh aspect of the invention mentioned in the introduction, wherein an auxiliary piece 66 is provided on the edge 5, which extends transverse in respect of the edge 3 which has to be covered with the water-repellent substance. The figure clearly shows that the lateral surface 67 of this auxiliary piece 66 is made with a profile, wherein the profile corresponds almost completely to the profile of the edge 3 to be covered. By the presence of the auxiliary piece 66, a run-up and/or run-down of the covering device is simplified and staining of the edge 5 as a result of edge effects with the run-down of the covering operation on the protruding portions formed by the lowermost groove lip 22 and uppermost groove lip 23 is minimized or prevented. It is clear that instead of working with an auxiliary piece 66 also an extra floor panel could be used, which is locked with the floor panel to be treated by means of the coupling means 18. Although represented otherwise in figures 15 to 17, 21 and 24, the panel preferably is oriented with its decorative side or surface 17 downward when applying the covering 26 and/or applying the coupling means 18.

Figure 25 represents some steps in a method with, amongst others, the characteristics of the eighth aspect of the invention. Herein, in the example it is started from a larger board 41 of substrate material, which, in a preceding step SO, is subdivided into smaller boards 41A. In this case, a dimension of the smaller boards approximately corresponds to several of the final panels 1. Thus, the smaller boards 41A still have to be subdivided in panels which in surface correspond or approximately correspond to the final panels 1. In the example, this is performed in step S4, which preferably is performed before step S5, in which the edges 4-5 are provided with a profile, such as in this case for forming coupling means 18, substantially in the form of a tongue 21 and a groove 22. The substrate material 41 A is in figure 25 directed downward with its side 68 intended for applying the top layer 7 thereon, as this orientation implies advantages in respect to a smooth production.

As represented, the method comprises the step S3, wherein, in this case on at least one edge 69, in this case on two opposite edges of the substrate material 41A, an edge zone 70 of synthetic material is realized. In the example, these opposite edges correspond to the short edges 4-5 of a floor panel 1 to be formed thereof. The synthetic material is directly connected to the respective edge 69 of the substrate material 41A, in this case by hardening of a substance applied in liquid form. As aforementioned, in the step S5 then the final aforementioned edge portion 13 is formed from said edge zone.

The realized edge zone 70 extends to beyond the upper edge 71 of the substrate material 41A on the side 68 which is intended for providing said top layer 7 thereon. This is also represented clearly in figure 26. The illustrated method further also comprises the step S1 of applying said top layer 7, wherein this top layer 7, according to the eighth aspect, extends at least up to or, in this case even to beyond, said upper edge 71 of the substrate material 41 A. Figure 25 further illustrates that the synthetic material for the portion of the edge zone 70 which extends beyond said upper edge 71 , during hardening can be supported by means of an external auxiliary piece 72. In this case, said auxiliary piece 72 respectively together with the respective edge 69 an approximately U- shaped channel 73, in which the still liquid or paste-like synthetic material can be provided.

As figure 26 represents, the surfaces 74 of the obtained edge zones 70 possibly are not suitable for immediately providing the top layer 7 and/or underlying layer 12 thereon. For offering a solution therefor, possibly an extra step S7 is required, illustrated in figure 25, in which at least the side 68 of the substrate material 4 A and the pertaining surface 74 of the edge zone 70 have been sanded or flattened in any other manner.

As represented by the dashed line 75, the auxiliary piece 72 can provide for forming the support of two edge zones 70 of different substrate materials 41 A. In this case, the dashed line 75 represents a support for an edge zone 70, from which finally a coupling means 18 in the form of a tongue 20 is obtained, as well as for an edge zone 70, from which finally a coupling means 18 in the form of a groove 21 is obtained.

Figure 26 also represents that the edge zone 70 preferably extends to beyond the upper edge 71 , over a distance T4 which is larger than half of the thickness T3 and still better larger than the thickness T3 of the substrate material 41A. In this manner, a maximum saving of the substrate material 41A is realized per unit surface of the final panels 1. By means of said auxiliary pieces 72, the present invention offers a very smooth method for realizing such wide edge zones 70. Of course, such edge zones 70 can be realized, within the scope of the invention, in other manners, too. Figure 27 represents another example, wherein the edge zone 70, via a portion 76, is anchored in the substrate material 41 A. Figures 28 and 29 represent still other embodiments, wherein the boundary surface 15 comprises partial surfaces 16, which extend transverse to the normal of the surface 17 of the panel 1. However, it is not excluded that, as in figure 26, use is made of a boundary surface 15 which, for the major part and/or substantially, extends parallel to said normal on the surface 17.

It is also noted that figures 8 to 12 also form examples of the seventh and eighth aspect of the present invention mentioned in the introduction, wherein the edge 69 then respectively is formed by means of the recess 45, which extends over the entire thickness T3 of the substrate material 41.

It is clear that also the examples from figures 27 through 29 fulfill the preferred characteristic that the edge zone 70 extends over a distance T4 beyond the upper edge 71 , which is larger than half of the thickness T3 and in these cases even larger than the thickness T3 of the substrate material 41 A.

Figures 26 to 29, amongst others, represent still another preferred embodiment, which can be applied in combination with one or more of the mentioned aspects or concepts. This embodiment is characterized in that the substrate material of the floor panel 1 comprises a distal point 77 on one of its edges and that the synthetic edge portion 13 extends beyond this distal point 77 over a distance T5 which is larger than half of the thickness T3 of the substrate 6-41 A, or still better, such as here, is larger than the thickness T3. Such embodiment allows a large freedom of design for profiling the respective edge portion 13 and is of particular interest when this profile comprises coupling means 18 and certainly when a female coupling part 33 or groove is applied, which comprises a groove lip extending to beyond the upper edge 27 of the panels 1. With such coupling means 18, too, the entire contour or substantially the entire contour then can be realized in the synthetic material, wherein a very good balance is obtained between material consumption of substrate material 6 and synthetic material of the edge portion 13.

In combination with the first aspect, this further preferred embodiment leads, for example, to a panel of the type which comprises at least a substrate 6 and a top layer 7 provided thereon, wherein this panel 1 , at least at one edge 4, comprises an edge portion 13 of synthetic material, different from the substrate material 6, characterized in that the synthetic material extends at least over 80 percent of the thickness T3 of the substrate 6 and that the attachment of the edge portion 13 to the substrate 6 and/or the provided top layer 7 is at least partially obtained by hardening of said synthetic material, and wherein the substrate 6 at the respective edge 4 comprises a distal point 77, wherein said edge portion 13 extends beyond said distal point 77 over a distance T5 which is larger than half of the thickness T3 of the substrate 6.

Although figures 26 through 29, for describing broader embodiments, only refer to the tongue side 4 of the panel 1 , it is clear that these embodiments, mutatis mutandis, can also be applied on the groove side 5 or on any other side, which preferably is profiled in the form of a coupling means 18.

Generally, it is also noted that, although certain inventive ideas, concepts or aspects are described on one edge or one pair of opposite edges only, they can of course be applied at will on all edges, and such at choice. Inventions which are described only by means of an application on the short and long edges, of course, mutatis mutandis, can only be applied for the long, the short, edges, respectively. For example, a panel can be provided on all edges with a synthetic edge portion with characteristics such as in the first, the second, the third and/or the fourth aspect. Such embodiment is of particular interest when the panels are square and/or are provided such that a coupling part at one of a first pair of opposite edges can cooperate with the coupling part of the other edge of the first pair of opposite edges, as well as with a coupling part of one of another second pair of opposite edges, for example, for forming laying motifs, such as herringbone motifs or the like.

The present invention is in no way limited to the herein above-described embodiments; on the contrary, such methods and floor panels can be realized according to various variants without leaving the scope of the present invention. Moreover, the panels, instead of as floor panels, can also be realized as wall panels or ceiling panels or even as furniture panels. Of course, the methods of the invention, mutatis mutandis, can be applied for manufacturing wall panels, ceiling panels, furniture panels or the like.

Claims

Claims.
1.- Panel of the type which comprises at least a substrate (6) and a top layer (7) provided thereon, wherein this panel (1), at least at one edge (4), comprises an edge portion (13) of synthetic material, different from the substrate material (6), characterized in that the synthetic material extends at least over 80 percent of the thickness (T3) of the substrate (6) and that the attachment of the edge portion (13) to the substrate (6) and/or the provided top layer (7) is at least partially obtained by hardening of said synthetic material, and wherein the substrate (6) at the respective edge (4) comprises a distal point (77), wherein said edge portion (13) extends beyond said distal point (77) over a distance T5 which is larger than half of the thickness T3 of the substrate (6).
2.- Panel according to claim 1 , characterized in that said edge portion (13) extends beyond said distal point (77) over a distance T5 which is larger than the thickness T3 of the substrate (6).
3. - Panel according to claim 1 or 2, characterized in that said top layer (7) is connected to the substrate substantially by means of an adhesive layer.
4. - Panel according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that the panel (1), at both edges (4-5) of a pair of opposite sides, comprises such edge portion (13).
5. - Panel according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that the synthetic material extends over the entire thickness (T3) of the substrate material (6).
6.- Panel according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that the synthetic material extends from the lower side of the panel (1) to or into the top layer (7).
7.- Panel according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that the respective edge (4) is provided with a profile and the profile comprises coupling means (18) with which this panel (1) can be coupled to other similar panels (1), such that in the coupled condition of two of such panels (1), at the edge (4) concerned a locking is obtained in a horizontal direction (H1) perpendicular to the edge and in the plane of the panel (1), as well as in a vertical direction (V1) perpendicular to the plane.
8.- Panel according to claim 7, characterized in that said coupling means (18) allow to couple two of such panels (1) to each other by means of a downward coupling movement (N).
9.- Panel according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that said top layer (7) comprises a printed decor.
10. - Panel according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that said top layer (7) has a thickness (T) of at least 0.5 millimeters.
11. - Panel according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that said top layer (7) is an annealed or relaxed thermoplastic top layer.
12. - Panel according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that said top layer (7) distaiiy extends at least up to, and preferably beyond, said distal point
(77) of the substrate (6).
13.- Method for manufacturing panels, wherein these panels (1) comprise at least a substrate (6) and a top layer (7) provided thereon and wherein these panels (1), at least at one edge (69), comprise an edge portion (13) of a synthetic material, different from the substrate material (41A), wherein it is started from substrate material (41A) with a side (68) for providing thereon said top layer (7), wherein the method comprises at least the following steps, namely the step (S3) of realizing, at least on one edge (69) of the substrate material (41A), an edge zone (70) of synthetic material, and the step (S5) of forming, from said edge zone (70), the final aforementioned edge portion (13), characterized in that the synthetic material is directly connected to the respective edge (69) of the substrate material (41A), wherein said edge zone (70) extends to beyond the upper edge (71) of the substrate material (41A) at the side (68) thereof intended for providing said top layer (7) thereon, and that the method further also comprises the step (S1) of providing said top layer (7), wherein this top layer (7) extends at least to or beyond said edge (71) of the substrate material (41 A).
14. - Method according to claim 13, characterized in that the step (S1) of providing the top layer (7) is performed completely or partially after said edge zone (70) is obtained.
15. - Method according to claim 12 or 13, characterized in that the step (S1) of providing the top layer (7) is performed completely or partially before said edge zone (70) is obtained.
PCT/IB2011/052713 2010-05-10 2011-06-21 Panel and method for manufacturing panels WO2012004699A2 (en)

Priority Applications (24)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
BEBE2010/0420 2010-07-09
BE2010/0420A BE1019501A5 (en) 2010-05-10 2010-07-09 Floor panel and method for manufacturing floor panels.
BEBE2010/0441 2010-07-15
BE2010/0441A BE1019747A3 (en) 2010-07-15 2010-07-15 A coating, as well as panels and fittings thereby utilized.
BEBE2010/0602 2010-10-12
BE201000602A BE1020170A3 (en) 2010-07-09 2010-10-12 Panel and method for manufacturing panels.
BEBE2010/0705 2010-11-25
BE2010/0705A BE1019654A3 (en) 2010-07-09 2010-11-25 Panel for forming a floor covering.
BEBE2010/0713 2010-11-29
BE201000713A BE1019659A5 (en) 2010-05-10 2010-11-29 Floor panel and method for manufacturing floor panels.
BE201000719A BE1019662A3 (en) 2010-07-09 2010-12-02 Panel and method for manufacturing panels.
BEBE2010/0719 2010-12-02
BEBE2010/0749 2010-12-22
BE2010/0749A BE1019665A5 (en) 2010-10-12 2010-12-22 Panel, in particular floor panel.
US201061426734P true 2010-12-23 2010-12-23
US201061426583P true 2010-12-23 2010-12-23
US61/426,583 2010-12-23
US61/426,734 2010-12-23
US201161429845P true 2011-01-05 2011-01-05
US61/429,845 2011-01-05
US201161432021P true 2011-01-12 2011-01-12
US61/432,021 2011-01-12
BE2011/0128A BE1019954A3 (en) 2010-07-09 2011-02-23 Panel and method for manufacturing panels.
BEBE2011/0128 2011-02-23

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