The availability of MDF with its unique machining and finishing characteristics has coincided with an upsurge in the quality of museum displays and presentations. As a consequence, MDF is now widely used by specialist companies concerned with the manufacture of show cases, exhibition stands, panoramic displays and information panels for national museum collections and by the many smaller museums concerned with local interests. Financially hard pressed museum staff can construct high quality displays and three dimensional models with simple machining equipment and finishing skills.
The base panels of standard design showcases are often manufactured from MDF panels with a paint finish or fabric covering. MDF can also be used for back panels or raised platforms for the display of individual items within the showcase.
As some evidence of corrosion of metal objects by formic acid which accumulates in sealed, dust free showcases has been reported, low formaldehyde emitting materials are required for this application. One possibility is the use of UF bonded MDF with a low formaldehyde content. Alternatively, and probably more effectively, the panels for showcases can be cut from exterior grade MDF which, by relying on different binding resins, have an almost negligible formaldehyde content. As an additional safeguard, all surfaces and edges should be sealed with a latex or polyurethane varnish to reduce the emission of any formaldehyde or other vapours from the binding resin and the wood itself to an insignificant level.
Large sculptures or pottery items can be effectively displayed at eye level by supporting them on simple pillars constructed from MDF panels or on circular pillars constructed by laminating thin MDF, now available in thicknesses down to 1.8 mm or by using the recently introduced formable MDF. The high stability of MDF ensures shape retention and freedom from cracking in the sometimes dry atmospheres in museums.
MDF is one of the best materials for cutting the shaped panels used to create three dimensional land or seascapes for the display of stuffed animals or birds in a natural habitat. it is also used for schematic representations of industrial processes, and panoramic townscapes showing geographical features, historical developments or communication systems. MDF panels can easily be cut into
different shapes with powered hand tools. The smooth surfaces can be finished with standard or textured paints to create special effects appropriate to the display.
MDF is a good material for building models, either whole or in sections, ships, spacecraft, and machines. Effective information panels with three dimensional cutouts or lettering are often constructed from MDF available in thicknesses from 1.8 to 60 mm.