The Department of Forest Products Technology is the only university in Finland which offers teaching and research on every aspect of forest products technology. This means the processing of wood from forest to construction materials, printed paper and veneer.
In addition to an extensive international exchange of students, research scientists and lecturers, many research projects collaborate with research groups abroad, says the department. Its goal is to be ‘a leading, globally networked and renowned centre of excellence in the field of forest products education and research’.
The principal research focus of the Laboratory of Wood Technology is the technology of wood and wood products, the associated manufacturing processes, product properties and their competitiveness and development.
To this end, the laboratory is equipped with some large-scale production equipment to enable it to create real-life
production processes.
On entering the labs, the equipment which has immediate visual impact is a Raute log peeling lathe. Extensively
modernised when it was installed in 2006, it can peel logs up to 1400mm in length at speeds of up to 300m/min. It is equipped with a fixed nose bar, automatic positioner and two-roller supporting devices. A modern control unit enables lathe settings to be easily changed.
A heated soaking tank on the site can accommodate up to 10 logs at a time.
The lathe is complemented by equipment for measuring both the visual properties of veneers peeled from different wood species and surface roughness, using computer vision equipment. A Mecano arch houses the camera-based defect detection system and there is also a Metriguard 360MHz machine for measuring moisture and density of veneers using radio waves, giving information about average moisture content and density as well as their distribution throughout the veneer. The same equipment can measure modulus of elasticity of the veneer using ultrasound. The Metriguard is itself calibrated by an earlier version of the same machine.
Research into peeler knife life is
another facility the labs can offer.
A small Raute veneer dryer simulates real dryer conditions by continually
moving the veneer sheets up and down in the hot air flow and is equivalent to a 20m dryer, explained professor Matti Kairi who had industrial veneer production experience with Kerto laminated veneer lumber (LVL) at Finnforest before coming to TKK.
The main laboratory is also equipped with a hydraulically-operated hot press in which panels up to 50x50cm can be produced at temperatures of up to 2000C.
For coating the veneer with resin, there is a roller coater. The lab also has a spray applicator but this is mainly used for particleboard production, said professor Kairi.
“This building was previously a graphics laboratory for the university so we had to strengthen the foundations to take the weight of all this machinery,he said. “We also erected a building outside to house the hydraulic pumps to limit noise levels in the laboratory.”
Adjacent to the main machine room are smaller laboratories for small-scale testing. One of these rooms contains optical microscopes and a current project is looking at the fracture behaviour of wood. A scanning electron microscope is also available on the university site.
In another room, bending and tensile stress measuring machines are available.
In a separate area of the laboratories there are also extensive facilities for
testing solid wood and wood products.
Research in the four laboratories of the Department of Forest Products Technology includes:
l The physics and chemistry of wood, fibres and products and wood and fibre as a source of new materials
l Manufacturing processes, the chemistry of pulp, paper, printed matter and other products
l Wood technology and timber construction, technologies, products, functional modes, processing systems, markets, competitiveness and their development
l Process industry environmental
technology, especially in the wood processing industry.
Teaching in the Wood Product Technology faculty at TKK covers topics including wood material science, manufacturing processes of primary and
secondary wood products, the technical end-uses of wood, as well as the development of competitive businesses.
To achieve this, the laboratory says it has fostered close working relationships both with the other laboratories within the department and with the departments of Architecture and Civil Engineering at TKK. There is also active co-operation with TKK’s partner universities in Europe and abroad.
The department is claimed to be a ‘unique and internationally unequalled body which covers all central areas of forest products technology and its refining chain’.