WHITE SWAN, Wash. – A new type of lightweight panel is now in production and available for a number of potential applications.

Neucor is making a thin MDF panel that is pressed into a shape that acts as a rigid core. Surfaces and edgebanding can be applied to this core to create a finished panel.

The company, formerly known as Trusscore, is making panels in a former Jeld-Wen plant that was previously manufacturing MDF door skins.

FDMC and Woodworking Network recently visited this new operation. A full report on the new lightweight panel is planned in the near future.

Chairman and CEO John S. Fujii is a Washington state businessman with experience in panels and a corrugated cardboard material. It is this cardboard process that forms the basis for the Neucor design.

In White Swan, a thin MDF line with a six-opening press is used to make the panels. There are two lines, and total capacity of the plant is 140 million square feet.

Will Savage, director of manufacturing, said that raw material from wood chips is refined to create fiber. A fiber mat is put into the press, which creates the shape of the lightweight panel core.

The normal product is a 4 x 8 foot panel, but 5 x 8 panels can also be made. The finished core is ½-inch thick, with 1/8-inch faces applied to both sides.

The marketplace will depend on the innovation of people who use it. “We’re starting out (making panels for) interior products, furniture, cabinets, and architectural,” Fujii said. “The unique thing about this product is it’s not only lightweight, but it’s strong. We can make it at high efficiency, and we’re at a reasonable price point.”

This was intended to be used as a core product, but there has been interest in finishing the core and using it as an interior panel.

Fujii said that the company is also working to develop fire-resistant and acoustic panels, and tests have been made using OSB panels. See neucorpanels.com.

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