South American panel manufacturer Masisa has officially opened what is Chile’s first medium density particleboard (MDP) line at its Cabrero wood panels complex south west of Santiago.

Santiago-based Masisa invested US$59m to construct the 280,000m3/year line, a project which involved converting the site’s original 160,000m3/year continuous MDF line to the enhanced particleboard grade.

The new unit, employing around 100, started up in July. The MDP line is based on the former 21m Kusters press, with the addition of new equipment including a Siempelkamp front end, a 27 tonne/hour Buttner dryer and Kontra panel handling and cut-to-size sections.

The wood yard has been modified to give a nominal wood supply of 30 tonnes/ hour. Production from the new line is being targeted largely at Chile’s domestic market, but will also export to the country’s neighbouring Andean region states including Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.  

The plant launch is in line with Masisa’s growth strategy. It is part of a plan to introduce an innovative product to the market, to upgrade its industrial facilities in Chile and to boost capacity to meet future demand, according to the firm’s chief executive Roberto Salas.