Advanced Wood Products Manufacturing

Recent amendments to the Building Code of Australia, which permit the use of fire and acoustic rated timber construction systems for three-storey Class 3 buildings, will help promote more opportunities for traditional wood framing and engineered timbers in commercial and multi-residential developments, according to Sourceable February 7. Set to take effect in May, the amendment will affect a wide range of accommodation-related buildings including hotels, motels, hostels, and residential parts of health-care facilities for staff accommodation. 
The new Australian regulations come in a global environment in which innovations such as engineered timbers are driving a broadening of the applications of structural wood products in multi-storey buildings.
Indeed, the ultra-modern structure of the first stadium to be designed for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be largely engineered timber, said Building Design in November. The roof of the 40,000-seat venue uses far less steel than the London World Cup venue. After the World Cup, half the seats will be removed and shipped to developing countries as the Qatar stadium is transformed for legacy mode.
Last May, the Forest Productions Association of Canada partnered with Vancouver, BC-based wood researcher FPInnovations in an initiative to help the forest products industry get a piece of the $8 trillion global construction market. The focus is on engineered wood, which has advanced to the point where it can compete with steel and concrete, increasing the range of building types using wood.
The Advanced Building Systems (ABS) program at FPInnovations  provides the wood industry with guidance in meeting these expectations. FPInnovations laboratories offer accredited testing under ISO Guidelines, and FPInnovations staff have impartial involvement in Canadian and international (ISO) technical committees ranging from product specifications to building systems performance design.

Wood Building  —  New Applications

With research space next to FPInnovations, the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing (CAWP), part of the University of British Columbia’s Forest Sciences Centre, has a 10,000 square foot manufacturing facility equipped with a full complement of state-of-the-art equipment for solid wood and panel processing, according to the CAWP website. The equipment in the CAWP manufacturing lab includes everything from a portable sawmill and kilns through a full range of cutting, boring, veneering, edgebanding and sanding equipment to CNC technology. The facility also has:

  • Two three-axis CNC routers, a five-axis CNC router, and a Hundegger ROBOT Drive CNC timber processing centre
  • Laser engraver with 48×36 cutting/engraving area
  • Advanced testing facilities for a wide range of product attributes, from structural strength to aesthetic (surface finish) properties

Global demand for advanced wood manufacturing and engineered wood extends beyond structural applications. Countries like India have a great appetite for veneers and laminates of many kinds to use for flooring, trim, windows, and more.
According to Hardwood and DIY January 24, wood suppliers in India are adopting various solid hard and engineered timber, bamboo, and reclaimed blocks and planks to manufacture wooden flooring. Among the new materials used, pine is in high demand due to its low cost, easy installation and maintenance, smooth shiny finish, and high impact and heat resistance.
On the manufacturing side, the technical expertise and product range of Metsä Wood, out of Finland, were crucial in building two low-impact construction houses on a beach at Camber Sands, UK.
The timber design developed for Camber Sands uses Metsä Wood’s Kerto suite of products for the trusses and decking. The A-frame roof is fabricated from Kerto S beams, which are manufactured with the wood grain in the veneers running longitudinally through all the layers to provide excellent strength, dimensional precision, and stability. The trusses are set at 1200mm centres.
“Kerto S is an ideal choice for beams whenever lightweight, long spans and minimal deflections are required,” said Metsä Wood senior engineer Ewa Ostrowska to Timber Trades Journal January 25.
Daniel Saunders, of specialist sub-contractor Crendon Timber Engineering which fabricated and installed the Kerto elements, concurs. “The use of Kerto S meant we were able to design to a high specification and keep the member sizes within the desired sectional sizes for aesthetically pleasing feature trusses,” he said.
Metsä’s Kerto Q was used for the roof and floor decks. Kerto Q is a cross-bonded veneer, with one-fifth of the veneers glued cross-wise to improve the lateral bending strength and stiffness of the timber element to enhance its shear strength. The cross-bonded veneers also help reduce moisture-dependent variations across the width of the panel.
Each house is built on a 250mm-thick concrete raft foundation, formed on a stone sub-base to ensure minimum bearing pressure on the beach.
“Using insulated concrete formwork and Metsä’s Kerto system provided a solution that eased the construction process and potentially speeded-up the onsite process consequently minimising the environmental impact to the beach,” said architect and designer Stuart Martin, of Walker and Martin to Timber Trades Journal.