What Is the 32mm Cabinet System?

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Following World War II, Europe had to face the mass number of houses that had been destroyed. Because solid lumber was not abundantly available, European engineers devised an integrated system of hardware, materials, and machinery to use the particleboard sheets that were available. The result of their innovation has come to be known as the European cabinet system, or 32mm cabinet system. 

This new system more than modified former systems. It represented a new direction in philosophy, hardware, fasteners, materials, joinery, and construction techniques. The European system maximized the efficient use of materials, time, equipment, and labor in producing residential and commercial cabinets that were both functional and attractive. As a result of the 32mm system, Europe’s cabinet industry could manufacture thousands of well-built cabinets that met universal specifications. 

32mm is a complete “system” of cutting, edge banding, and assembly that is designed to a) produce a large amount of casework quickly and without the need for a lot of skilled craftsmen; and b) create modular cabinetry that can be easily disassembled and moved from one location to another. In most of Europe, cabinets are treated like furniture in that when people move, they take their cabinets with them.

Several fundamental differences separate European-style cabinets from traditional American cabinets. The European style cabinet has no face frame and is often referred to as “frame-less.” The box is generally constructed of 5/8″- or 3/4″- thick melamine-coated particleboard. The particleboard’s exposed edges are generally edged-banded with wood or plastic. The toe kick is usually a separate frame, built independent of the cabinet and joined to the cabinet during installation. European-style door hinges are adjustable on three axes, which makes door alignment very simple and quick. The most fundamental difference, and from where the term “32mm system” derives, is the fact that European cabinet design and construction is based on a grid of 5mm holes drilled on 32mm centers. A line boring machine drills these holes, drilling several holes at once and easily indexing for another set to be drilled in perfect alignment. The holes are used for quick and accurate alignment during assembly and when workers attach door hinges, drawer glides, and adjustable shelf pins. Cabinet Sourcing take 32 mm system as a standard through out the production line.

Streamlined construction procedures, efficient use of materials, and the look of the finished product have all contributed to the popularization of the European style in the United States. Since World War II, many American cabinet manufacturers have implemented the concepts of the 32mm cabinet system. Cabinet Sourcing use 32mm system and produce both European style cabinet and American style kitchen cabinet. The results of a survey given to exhibitors showed that approximately one fourth of the custom cabinets that the presenters produced were in the European style. The ratio of European-style cabinets to traditional cabinets is likely to be even higher in commercial applications.

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