In Australia, plantation forests have increased in area by around 50% in the last 10 years. While this expansion has seen a modest 8% increase for softwoods, hardwood plantations have dramatically increased by over 150%. Hardwood plantations grown for high quality sawn timber are slow to mature, with a crop rotation time potentially reaching 35 years. With this long lead-time, each year the risk from fire, pests and adverse weather events dramatically increases, while not translating into substantially higher fincial returns to the grower. To justify continued expansion of Australia's current hardwood plantation estate, it is becoming necessary to develop higher value end-uses for both pulpwood and smaller 'sawlog' resources. The use of the low commercial value stems currently culled during thinning appears to be a necessary option to improve the industry profitability and win new markets. This paper provides background information on Australian forests and plantations and gives an overview of potential uses of Australian hardwood plantation thinning logs, as their mechanical properties. More specifically, this paper reports on the development of structural Veneer Based Composite (VBC) products from hardwood plantation thinning logs, taking advantage of a recent technology developed to optimise the processing of this resource. The process used to manufacture a range of hollow-form veneer lamited structural products is presented and the mechanical characteristics of these products are investigated in the companion paper. The market applications and future opportunities for the proposed products are also discussed, as potential benefits to the timber industry.
RILEM 2014: Materials and Joints in Timber Structures • Recent Advancement (2014)
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