Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) and plywood are the two major veneer-based wood composite products. During LVL/plywood manufacturing, the hot pressing process is crucial not only to the quality and productivity, but also to the performance of panel products. Up to now, the numerical simulation of the hot-pressing process of LVL/plywood products is not available.
To help understand the hot-pressing process of veneer-based wood composites, the main objective of this study was to develop a computer simulation model to predict heat and mass transfer and panel densification of veneer-based composites during hot-pressing. On the basis of defining wood-glue mix layers through the panel thickness, a prototype finite-element based LVL/plywood hot-pressing model, VPress®, was developed to simulate, for the first time, the changes of temperature, moisture and vertical density profile (VDP) of each veneer ply and glueline throughout the pressing cycle. This model is capable of showing several important characteristics of the hot-pressing process of veneer-based composites such as effect of glue spread level, veneer moisture, density, platen pressure and temperature as well as pressing cycles on heat and mass transfer and panel compression. Experiments were conducted using several different variables to validate the model. The predicted temperature profiles of the veneer plies and gluelines (especially at the innermost glueline) by the model agree well with the experimental measurements. Hence, the model can be used to evaluate the sensitivity of the main variables that affect hot-pressing time (productivity), panel compression (material recovery) and vertical density profile (panel stiffness). Once customized in industry, the new model will allow operators to optimize the production balance between productivity, panel densification and panel quality or stiffness. This hot-pressing model is the first step in facilitating the optimization of the pressing process and enhanced product quality.
In order to maintain the competitive advantage in existing and new markets situated in seismic and high wind zones such as the Pacific Rim and the southeastern U.S., it is proposed to study deflections in walls, floor and roof assemblies. The proposed project will also be very useful in: a) setting deflection criteria as will be demanded by performance-based codes, and b) responding to the inevitable transition to displacement-based seismic design.