Strength grading of structural timber and EWP laminations of Norway spruce Development potentials
Abstract: Strength grading of structural timber is a process by which value is added to sawn products. It is to the greater part carried out using machine grading based on statistical relationships between so called indicating properties and bending strength. The most frequently applied indicating property (IP) on the European market is the stiffness in terms of average modulus of elasticity (MOE) of a timber piece, although MOE is a material property that varies within timber.A major limitation of today’s grading methods is that the described relationships are relatively poor, which means that there is a potential for more accurate techniques. The main purpose of this research has been to initiate development of more accurate and efficient machine grading methods.Strength of timber is dependent on the occurrence of knots. At the same time, knot measures applied as indicating properties until today have shown to be poor predictors of strength. However, results from this research, and from previous research, has shown that not only size and position of knots but also fibre deviations in surrounding clear wood are of great importance for local stiffness and development of fracture under loading. Thus, development of new indicating properties which take account of knots as well as properties of surrounding fibres, determined on a very local scale, was considered as a possible path towards better strength grading.In the research, results from contact-free deformation measurements were utilized for analysis of structural behaviour of timber on both local and global level. Laser scanning was used for detection of local fibre directions projected on surfaces of pieces. Scanned information, combined with measures of density and average axial dynamic MOE, was applied for calculation of the variation of local MOE in the longitudinal board direction. By integration over cross-sections along a piece, a stiffness profile in edgewise bending was determined and a new IP was defined as the lowest bending MOE along the piece.For a sample of Norway spruce planks, a coefficient of determination of 0.68 was achieved between the new IP and bending strength. For narrow side boards to be used as laminations in wet-glued glulam beams, the relationship between IP and tensile strength was as high as 0.77. Since the intended use of the narrow boards was as laminations in wet-glued beams, the possibility of grading them in a wet state was also investigated. Grading based on axial dynamic excitation and weighing gave just as good results in a wet state as when the same grading procedure was applied after drying.It was also found that the relationship between the new IP and strength was dependent on what scale the IP was determined. Optimum was reached for moving average MOE calculated over lengths corresponding with approximately half the width of investigated pieces.Implementation of the new IP will result in grading that is more accurate than what is achieved by the great majority of today’s grading machines. The new method will probably also be particularly favourable for development of engineered wood products made of narrow laminations.
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