About ten percent of forest wood in Germany goes into engineered wood products. Manufacturers produce an average of some six million cubic meters of particle board, four million cubic meters of fiberboard and one million cubic meters of waferboard.
The German engineered wood industry is the sector's largest producer in Europe and shows extensive innovation potential.
LIGNA 2015 showcases the very latest production and machining technologies as well as innovative applications for engineered wood.
What is engineered wood?
Engineered wood is produced by chipping or shredding wood into small pieces and then bonding them together. The shape and size of the wood pieces determine the type of engineered wood and its characteristics. They range from large components – such as lumber and veneers of various thicknesses – to small components like wood shavings, wood chips, wood wool, wood fibers or sawdust. The choice of components impacts not only the strength of the material, but also the surface quality and insulating properties.
Engineered wood products combine the advantages of natural materials with developments and innovations from science and technology. They can be used very widely and have homogeneous characteristics. Because they generally have better dimensional stability than natural wood, they significantly expand the applications for wood products.
Engineered wood types and manufacturing
Engineered wood can be divided into different categories based on the various components used in their production
- Solid wood
- Composites of several components
The production process is similar for all types of engineered wood: wood is broken down into chips, strands or fibers, dried, and mixed with a binder and optionally waterproofing agents, wood preservatives or pigments. The mixture is then spread on screens or mats, compressed and pressed into boards using heat and pressure.
The boards are subsequently trimmed, cooled, smoothed and shaped. Modern engineered wood products are often made using new methods from plastics engineering, such as extrusion or injection molding. The surfaces are usually finished with veneer, paper, decorative laminations or paint according to the intended use.
The main application areas for many engineered wood products in terms of volume are the construction and furniture industries. Engineered wood products are also used for interior design, packaging, insulation, dry screeds and floor coverings, as well as doors. Plywood is increasingly used in trade fair and shop construction, while particle board and OSB are often used for concrete formwork in structural and civil engineering.
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What are the challenges facing the engineered wood sector?
As in other industries, fragmentation due to ever smaller batch sizes, cost effectiveness and sustainability with a consistent quality level are significant challenges for the engineered wood industry. Higher strength, durability and functionality are playing an ever larger role in engineered wood surface finishing.
Growth and resource scarcity in the industry are also currently driving the trend to lightweight construction. Furniture manufacturers see a strong need to establish an alternative to conventional particle board. In this connection a global furniture chain has already announced that 70 percent of engineered wood used in 2025 will be lightweight construction boards. Manufacturers in the wood industry certainly see great advantages, particularly in the reduced weight.
A recent survey of carpenters in North Rhine-Westphalia by the trades chamber revealed them to be extremely open to the notion of lightweight construction. Of those surveyed, 63 percent viewed the use of lightweight boards as sensible and 72 percent perceived the low weight of lightweight boards as an advantage. What is still needed is to convince customers of the quality of lightweight engineered wood, since they often judge the quality of furniture by its weight.
New technologies for engineered wood
Visitors to LIGNA 2015 find solutions to help meet these rising challenges in Hall 27. These include the latest machines and systems including innovative accessories to produce engineered wood and veneers, supplemented by the combined expertise of leading international exhibitors who specialize in sustainable and efficient board production. The fair's focus is on the production of particle board and wood fiberboard such as MDF and OSB. This includes the production of particles and fibers from wood waste and industrial wood, preparation, advanced pressing technology, transport technology and measurement and control technology. LIGNA also showcases cutting-edge technologies for the production of veneers, veneer plywood, glulam and paper-based finishing materials.
In the field of engineered wood machining, LIGNA also has much to offer: visitors can explore the current state of CNC technology in Halls 11, 12, 14 and 15. Here, exhibitors present solutions and entry-level options for businesses of every size to help them meet customer needs with an attractive cost-benefit ratio. The ability to produce custom furniture and fittings without high cost and time expenditure plays a key role here. The latest CNC technology improves manufacturing technology and processes, with three- and five-axis machining centers now available.
Innovative router systems enable tear-free cutting and smooth surfaces with engineered wood. This advanced technology – presented at LIGNA 2015 – covers the entire production process from CAD drawing to completed component.
There is a new technology for electrostatic powder coating in the wet painting, lamination and film coating area. This new coating process produces homogeneous and uniform surfaces with efficient use of raw materials. High-tech methods such as hot air, plasma and lasers create a perfect surface and can be retrofitted on any size of machine.
Come to LIGNA 2015 to explore the entire spectrum of innovative products and new developments in engineered wood.
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