It now seems China has the third biggest production capacity in the world. The mills may be small, but their aggregate effect is significant.South America has also expanded capacity by 800,000m³ and similar additional volume is planned in that region for 2002.
Prices everywhere are under pressure at present but it seems certain that demand for MDF will continue to grow in the future.
Another area of panel making which, although nothing new, has been increasingly active in recent years, is that of utilising ‘waste’ materials in their manufacture, particularly agricultural residues, or ‘agri-fibre’.
Unfortunately, some of the more recent large-scale plants set up in North America have gone horribly and expensively wrong.
Don Lengel has a wealth of experience in the use of agri-fibres and has some strong views on when, how and where they should be used for panel manufacture. He also argues that using recycled wood for MDF offers some similar challenges.
Ultimately, Don is a believer in these panels and offers some solutions to problems experienced in the past. It would be interesting to hear readers’ reactions to his views on where things have gone wrong and how the job could be done better. Please feel free to email me if you have something to contribute.