Potato-Starch Composite Panel & Other Wood Innovations in 2013A biodegradable MDF panel that uses resin made from the starch of potatoes and other natural sources has been developed by Professor Andrew Abbot and a team of researchers from the University of Leicester in the UK.

Prototypes of the panels have been used to manufacture retail display units; additional applications for the new MDF include cabinetry and furniture. The research group worked with Biocomposites Centre, Bangor University and Leicestershire-based retail design company Sheridan and Co. on the prototype panels.

According to a statement, “The new material is easier to manufacture than existing MDF as the components are easily pre-mixed and only set on the application of heat and pressure; end user feedback suggests it is also easier to work with than currently available MDF boards.”

Professor Abbott was awarded the Royal Society Brian Mercer Award for Innovation 2013 for his work. “The Brian Mercer Award is fundamental in enabling us to take this project forward to the next stage; it means we can now scale up our process from laboratory to the full scale manufacture of a product that I hope will revolutionize industries dependent on MDF and provide them with a more environmentally friendly alternative,” he said.

Potato-Starch Composite Panel & Other Wood Innovations in 2013Molded Veneer Has Industry Sitting Pretty
Herman Miller made news earlier this year with its use of 3D veneer in one of its latest offerings: the Eames Molded Wood Side Chair. The durable, lightweight chair incorporates Danzer’s patented 3D-Furnier veneer, a process which utilizes sliced or rotary cut wood veneer cut into small strips. The 3D technology then deep draws the veneer, producing a closed surface with a high degree of stability in the formed mats. Danzer notes the grain pattern follows the shape of the formed part; the 3D veneer can also be used for flat parts.

Potato-Starch Composite Panel & Other Wood Innovations in 2013Form Meets Function in Kinetic Furniture

Spotlighting the flow between work and social life in today’s busy lifestyle is “Tools for Life,” a new collection designed by OMA for Knoll. In the 04 Counter (pictured) — the signature piece of the collection — a stack of three horizontal bars creates a spatial partition. With a simple rotation of the top two bars, the piece transforms into desks, tables, shelves or even cantilevered benches. Knoll says engineering and a system of internal bearings and rails enable 360 degrees of movement in the furniture, which was featured at NeoCon.