Presenters from Finsa, Egger and Fantoni joined with representatives of the Composite Panel Association, European Panel Federation, the VDMA and Ligna at the event. WBPI is the sister title of the Timber Trades Jounrnal (TTJ).

Italian architect Giulio Masotti, CEO of Wood Skin, started the event by demonstrating how his products are finding new applications for wood-based panels by using design software, CNC machines and composite materials.

By doing so he is creating complex foldable 3D structures that are quick to install and bringing new design possibilities to the world of wood-based panels.

Edi Snaidero, president of the European Furniture Industries Confederation (EFIC), reported that the European furniture sector saw a 7.4% reverse in 2019-20. The office furniture segment was harder hit with an 11% contraction, while the kitchen sector was unchanged at -0.1%.

“The pandemic brought people home more than before and the home became more important, with a focus of investments,” said Mr Snaidero.

Big recoveries were experienced in Q3 and Q4 of 2020, which he described as a good sign for the future.

Dominik Wolfschuetz, representing the German Engineering Association (which includes the German Woodworking Machinery Association), said German production of woodworking machinery is expected to grow 3% in 2021.

“I believe we will have to revise that projection to double digit growth because customer segments are doing very well,” added Mr Wolfschuetz.

He said promising signs were being reported in all markets around the globe and highlighted Austria, Brazil and Japan as recording positive markets in 2020, with the latter two seeing machinery investment growth in the wood-based panels industry.

Frank Goecke, of Afry Management Consulting, told delegates that the particleboard and MDF industries had outperformed global GDP and the construction sector in 2020.

He said particleboard capacity utilisation had dropped 3-6% globally in 2020, while production output and demand dropped by 2-5% (depending on world region) due to temporary Covid-19 shutdowns.

North America and China bucked the trend on production output, the former rising 1.6% and the latter up by 1.9%.

On the MDF front, production and demand dropped in most world regions in 2020, except South America, which recorded a 4.7% rise in production and 5% rise demand.

The conference presentations can be accessed HERE by delegates. Non-delegates need to register and sign in to access the content.