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Wood technologies

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Two new timber products have been launched which raise the question, 'When is a wood not a wood?'

Indurite employs a technique reminiscent of that used by Dr Gunter von Hagen in his plastinated bodies treatment. By vacuum pressure impregnating low-density timber with a non-toxic cellulose filler treatment - ensuring that the additive seeps deep into the wood fibres - the manufacturer suggests that it can turn any softwood into a hardwood. It claims significant improvements in hardness, fire resistance, spread of flame, stability and machinability.

Indurite has been developed in New Zealand and Australia using a mixture of corn and soy starches that infiltrate the timber fibres, hardening over time to improve the physical properties while not damaging the appearance. Tests in the US indicate that floorboards formed from sapwood have increased in hardness by 89 per cent and 29 per cent in the heartwood regions.

By including stains within the impregnation treatment, the factory process can maintain consistency throughout batches. Because the timber tends to be used in locations primarily for aesthetic effect, the manufacturer has not assessed the increased strength for use as a structural element.

A different type of modified timber product has come out of Holland.

Called 'Tech-Wood' it is an external cladding/boarding made from wood chips that have been processed in a 'thermoplastic polypropylene matrix' which is then extruded to form profiled planks or angles. By compressing the wood fibres in the transverse direction they act as reinforcement, and increase the flexural strength to 73N/mm 2(longitudinal direction) with a density of about 1,000kg/m 3.The boards are designated 'slipresistant'and 'do not splinter'. With excellent weather resistance, toughness and stability, and a coefficient of thermal expansion of only 13 x 10 /K, this product is ideally suited to decking.

Contact info@tech-wood. com

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