Wood-based panels: adding value

12 November 2018

The clocks have gone back, there is an edge in the air and it barely seems possible that we’re getting nearer to Christmas.

Summer weeks spent in the south of France seem a distant memory now and the prospect of increased M25 traffic from festive shoppers around Bluewater near TTJ’s new Dartford offices I’m told is something to look forward to!

If you are like me, Christmas shopping doesn’t come onto the radar until December when the seasonal lights start appearing but I’m told some shops are already in festive swing in October and perhaps even earlier in some cases.

The season is always a busy time for the panels trade, with the Shippers’ Lunch and Timber Trade Federation Panels Dinner being focal points for the UK and international panel products trade.

In this issue of TTJ we’ve seriously indulged in panel products, so forgive us if your business is more focused on solid woods.

In fact, this Panels Sector Focus is arguably our biggest to date and covers decorative wood panels, acoustic panels, fire retardant panels, MDF recycling and formaldehyde-free panels.

This expanded content has been timed to coincide with the Timber Trade Federation’s Wood Panels Conference on November 7, so if you are reading this at the event, we trust it will be a valuable addition to the presentations made.

Our panels content includes interesting insights at the European Panel Federation / Fraunhofer WKI European Wood-based Panel Symposium in Hamburg, attended by Mike Botting, editor of TTJ sister magazine WBPI.

At the event Volkswagen AG talked about using wood materials in structural automotive applications and BASF explained how 3D post-formable boards of MDF could be made by the addition of a thermo-plastic substance from BASF, via the blowline.

New hybrid binders also represent an opportunity for panel producers to increase productivity, while use of “Big Data” could help factories run closer to their limits; provide proper statistics; and give deeper insights into the production process.

Fire retardant panel products are a hot topic and we give an update on one that was shortlisted in this year’s TTJ Awards Innovative Product category – ProStructFR, the result of a partnership between Trade Fabrication Systems and PFS Coatings.

And IDS tells us that surface textures continue to be a focus area for the panels sector.

Meanwhile, in our softwood market report, Jerry Wilson has some interesting observations about wood-based materials being accepted as replacements for plastic in cutlery, as drinking straws and as bags. Once derided by the environmental movement, wood-based materials are now providing an answer to stem the tide of plastic waste.