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Posted in Industry News, Author: Clay Morgan

Strand Technology Lands in the Living Room

Strand technology has been an integral part of the homebuilding industry for decades. Since the introduction of oriented strand board in the 1970s, use of strand-based products has increased steadily, with OSB panels now serving as the most commonly used sheathing material in residential construction.

As the use of these panels has increased, so has the sophistication and complexity of strand-based technology. Manufacturers are constantly improving existing offerings and are now expanding the use of these products beyond the homebuilding realm.

According to Mike Ruch, CEO of Industrial Timber, strand-based product use has increased significantly among furniture manufacturers in the past several years, gaining acceptance due to cost efficiency, performance advantages, and environmental benefits.

“We’ve seen probably 50 percent growth in the use of engineered strand products over the last two years,” Ruch said. “It’s like this throughout the furniture industry.”

However, the panels becoming commonplace in the furniture industry are not the same products being used by homebuilders. Manufacturers are engineering strand-based products specifically for the unique requirements of upholstered furniture applications.

For example, approximately two years ago LP Building Products began making LP® SuperStruct® Furniture Panels in response to inquiries from furniture manufacturers seeking a product that would perform as well as plywood at a lower price point.

However, the upholstered furniture industry has embraced strand technology for reasons beyond cost.

Plywood, which has been the industry standard for years, is known for its strength and quality. Yet plywood’s inherent imperfections, such as knots and voids, force furniture manufacturers to discard portions of a panel, resulting in reduced yield and increased waste.

Ruch said engineered panels are a smart alternative to plywood because they are consistent, flat, and lack imperfections, making the entire panel usable.

“Plywood has a bow to it,” Ruch said. “The engineered panels do not, so they fit tighter on our routers, enabling us to use the panel even more efficiently.”

“We have a container for scrap at the end of our line. Using this product, I’m able to engineer my frames in such a way that we only empty that bin once a day,” said Ruch. “That means I’m not only saving money, I’m being more environmentally conscious.”

In addition to reducing waste and improving yield, Ruch considers strand furniture panels easy to work with. “We are able to use the same types of tools and techniques that we use when working with plywood,” he said.

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