LYONS, Ore. - A $250,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service will help Freres Lumber Co. bring its veneer-based massive plywood panels to the market.
Announced late last year, Freres Lumber says its massive plywood panels (MPP) could be used for floors and walls in multi-story commercial buildings, and they could be made to order. Freres hopes its panels will revolutionize the construction industry.
“We were recently informed that our mass plywood plant was named the Forest Service’s top project in the U.S.,” Freres executive VP Rob Freres said. “This was a competitive process with 114 grant applications submitted for consideration."
Designed to be an alternative to cross-laminated timber, Freres' massive panels can be as much as 12 feet wide and 2 feet thick. Freres says there are many potential benefits:
Freres Lumber Co. hopes its new-to-market, veneer-based massive plywood panels will revolutionize construction.
Structures made of MPP could be made in days instead of months, says Freres, and use 20-30 percent less wood than cross-laminated timber. The lightweight nature of MPP could reduce truckload transport costs. Large format panels could be manufactured at a facility to include window, door, and all other required cut-outs – minimizing waste and labor on the job site.
The grant will be used toward purchasing a CNC machine for the company's upcoming plant. The CNC will enable Freres to finish MPP panels to precise buyer specifications; saw doors, windows and other cutouts with precision and efficiency; and drastically reduce labor time at commercial building sites.
The new 168,000-square-foot plant, with construction costs around $23 million, is scheduled to open in January. Freres plans to initially employ 20 full-time workers, and plans to hire 40-60 more in the future.
Freres MPP went through a year of rigorous development and performance testing at Oregon State's Advanced Wood Products Laboratory.