CORVALLIS, Ore. — Freres Lumber Co. hopes its new-to-market, veneer-based massive plywood panels will revolutionize construction.
The Oregon-based manufacturer announced its new veneer-based panels in October after more than a year of development and performance testing at Oregon State’s Advanced Wood Products Laboratory. Freres says the panels, known as Mass Plywood Panels (MPP), could be used for floors and walls in multi-story commercial buildings, and they could be made to order.
Designed to be an alternative to cross-laminated timber, Freres’ massive panels can be as much 12-feet wide, 48-feet long and 2-feet thick.
Freres says there are many potential benefits:
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 seven-story T3 tower features 220,000 square feet of prefabricated CLT timber panels and nail-laminated timber cladding.
To make the MPP product, Freres is planning to build a new 168,000-square-foot facility in Oregon. The company says it will need to hire 20 new workers right away, and maybe 40 or 60 more in the future. Freres hopes to begin building the mass panels by late 2017.
Oregon State University says the main benefits of MPP are versatility and strength.
“These panels can be customized for different applications. Because they have very good compression qualities, they could be used for columns as well as panels,” said Ari Sinha, assistant professor in Oregon State’s College of Forestry, who oversaw the tests.
The veneer manufacturing process enables manufacturers to orient wood grain and to distribute the defects found in smaller trees, such as knots, in a way that maintains the strength of the final product, Sinha added.
Tests in Sinha’s lab focused on the panels’ structural and physical properties such as density, adhesive bonding and resistance to the kinds of vertical and horizontal stresses experienced in an earthquake. Additional tests are planned after the first of the year.
“The market is wide enough that this product can compete in niche applications,” said Sinha.