Face Transplants in the News

More akin to science fiction than science fact, several people have received face transplants in the last couple of years. Now relegated to only the most horrific accidents, like most medical miracles, as the techniques are perfected, this type of operation will eventually become much more commonplace. Once that happens, it’s only a matter of time until the procedure will become available as elective surgery for those who are not pleased with their existing faces, or maybe just want a new look. After all, who wants to go around their whole lives with the same old face? Wouldn’t it be nice to re-face for your 25th high school reunion? And then again for your 30th?

Fortunately, great strides have also been made in face transplants for your kitchen (and other) cabinetry. As materials and techniques have been perfected, refacing your kitchen can now be done on an elective, economical basis, and when it’s done right, it can be indistinguishable from a new kitchen, beautifying all those unsightly spots that have embarrassed you for years.

In the not so distant past, a few brave practitioners risked their reputations using early refacing techniques. You could choose from a catalog of about three different styles and colors for refacing, and most of those were brittle laminate doors that had no detail. To make matters worse, the material was adhered to the face of the cabinets with contact cement, a terribly toxic, highly flammable adhesive that had a life expectancy of 10 to 15-years. Not very enticing!

So the scientists at Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing (3M) got to work and created a new adhesive that is non-toxic, non-flammable, odorless, and gets stronger as it ages! It doesn’t get any better than that! Then someone (I’m not sure exactly who) developed a material called Rigid-Thermofoil, also known as RTF. This new wonder product is a vinyl-like material which is fused onto furniture grade composition board. Using computer controlled heat and pressure to create the finished product, it is flexible, much more resilient than the old laminates of yesteryear, and can be formed into different shaped doors enabling the manufacturers to create hundreds of exciting styles. But they didn’t stop there. New photographic techniques were developed to duplicate the beauty of real wood. This year, they even came out with an RTF product that looks just like stainless steel, creating a very attractive, contemporary look for your cabinets.

In 1951, Raymond Lowey, the famous industrial designer (and one of my personal heroes) wrote a book entitled Never Leave Well Enough Alone. Apparently, the manufacturers who make wood doors for refacing recently discovered this book because they decided to introduce replacement doors in new shapes and wood species. No longer are you relegated to just oak, maple and cherry. Now you can reface in eco-friendly bamboo, walnut, mahogany and sapele to name just a few. Then the guys at 3M got together with the manufacturers who crafted wood veneer and it was a marriage made in heaven.

So, if some unforeseen disaster has caused all your cabinetry to deteriorate, this is a great time to investigate refacing. As the procedure became more popular, the cost associated with the process has lowered considerably, just like people refacing will after it too becomes more routine.

Modern science has taken giant steps forward in refacing people as well as kitchens. To quote the Wicked Witch of the West, as her face deteriorated, “What a world, what a world”! (Unfortunately her face, along with the rest of her, melted to the point that a transplant would not be recommended.) But she could have had a beautiful kitchen.




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