Thermomechanical Densification of Timber: Initial Investigations of the Potential of Softwood Timber

This research evaluated thermomechanical densification procedures used as a method to season structural or semi-structural timber in a time and energy efficient manner and to produce minimum cost final timber products with a high degree of retention of the compressed dimensions and improved mechanical properties.

The optimal thermomechanical densification procedure allows timber cells to redistribute under conditions of high plasticity with minimal internal timber stresses being established. Existing processing techniques such as Compreg, Staypak and press drying were investigated in conjunction with theory on the chemistry, cellular structure, viscoelastic properties and drying responses of timber.

There was no significant improvement in MOE and MOR in the densified timber samples compared to the kiln dried control samples, however timber hardness was improved at both timber densification levels.

These technologies provide solutions to timber manufacturers processing plantation softwoods that are being harvested at a younger age and that are looking to produce final timber products with improved utility and value.

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