MDF Vs. MFC – Which Is Best For Use In An Education Environment?

23-10-2015

What are MDF and MFC, and which material is best suited for use in a classroom environment?  This post will look at the different properties of each, as well as their advantages and disadvantages for use in education.

MDF stands for Medium Density Fibreboard and is made from wood fibres glued together under high heat and pressure. MFC is an acronym for Melamine Faced Chipboard, and is made of wood chips formed into particleboard, and then bonded to melamine resin impregnated paper.

MDF is often preferred by installers because it is typically easier to cut and shape than MFC and therefore easier to work with. It is also strong, durable and if water ingression occurs it performs well, although it may blow due to the water affecting the efficiency of the glue that hold together the fibres.  However, despite the advantages of MDF, Pinnacle prefers to use MFC.

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MFC sawtooth IT benching

The old belief is that MFC is a weaker material than MDF and doesn’t hold fixings well.  However, in recent years there has been a change in the way that MFC is manufactured, and this has made a great difference to the properties of the material. It is now manufactured with a dense outer core for impact, and a coarser inner core for fixing strength. It also has a grain-like orientation which gives the product lateral strength. Our standard MFC carcass panels are thicker than most MDF carcasses which means they use larger, stronger fixings and this gives a lot more stability to the product. This is a major benefit for educational furniture because it makes it a lot harder for students to loosen and remove fixings, thereby causing damage to the furniture or themselves.

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MFC cross section showing the dense outer core and coarse inner core.

One of the key reasons why Pinnacle chooses not to use MDF is that it contains formaldehyde, an organic compound that has been associated with several types of cancer in humans. Formaldehyde is constantly released into the air and is naturally occurring.  Precautions should be taken when MDF is being cut because it gives off a wood dust which can be harmful if inhaled. Furniture now is usually sealed to prevent the formaldehyde escaping into the air but if it gets damaged, as often happens in schools, there is still the potential for it to be released into the air. MDF is banned in the USA due to its formaldehyde emissions although it is still allowed in the UK.  In order to be more environmentally friendly and to provide the best furniture solutions, we are continuously endeavouring to remove MDF products from our ranges and specify MFC instead.

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MFC capacity storage

Pinnacle have a number of MFC products that are supplied to education, with at least one being used in every project. Our main three MFC products are our StorageWall, IT benching and capacity storage. These products benefit from being MFC because they need to be strong and durable, and MFC provides those qualities as a robust material that is perfect for school environments.

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MFC TeacherWall

To see our projects using MFC products, click to view food tech rooms, science laboratories, IT suites or TeacherWalls. For more advice on design, space planning, or on the best material for your educational project, please call us on 020 8641 1000 or send us an email at sales@pinnacle.grvytrn.co.uk.

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