Laminated Beams – Do You Know Why Time, Temperature and Moisture Must Be Controlled?
We asked our Quality Control Officer, Rynhard Schoeman, at our laminated beam plant to give us a brief overview of the laminated beam production process and the necessary steps that need to be taken to ensure a good quality product.
See his synopsis below:
During the production phase of laminated beams there are essential control factors that determine the quality, mostly being temperature, time and moisture.
Finding the correct balance is essential in creating a quality product that will stand the test of time.
First and foremost is time. Each step takes time and requires great attention to detail. From finger profiling to joining, and pressing of beams, any lapse of unused time or production hiccups can put production behind by hours, even days.
Second, is temperature. Every element during the production phase has an optimal temperature for storage, mixing, application, pressing and curing which is a big stressor in the winter months where every pressing takes an average of two to three hours longer than in the warm summer period.
Pot life, being the time bonding agents can be worked with is extended dramatically as temperatures drop.
The third phase is no less important in the quality of the product but has less over reaching complications.
Moisture is important in two main areas; the timber itself and in the production environment. Should the moisture content be above the threshold in either of these facets, the bonds won’t cure effectively and the optimum strength will not be achieved.
The production process:
First, the selection of timber. Correctly selected timber is important as any defects not identified and removed during this process could result in a failed product.
Profiling of finger joints has to be accurate to a 10th of a millimetre. The process of identifying and controlling key factors in joining include but are not limited to finger length, finger slot width, pitch, fingertip thickness, moisture and clearance. Should any of these factors be out of balance the finger joints are rejected and redone.
After the profiling is done joining can take place. A phenol-resorcinol resin is mixed with a hardening powder and the finger joints are left to cure.
Quality control is effected before the planks are joined into beams. Defects must be identified before the process can continue.
The planks are sized and put into place for joining with either a phenol-resorcinol resin or an amino-plastic adhesive and left to cure.
Final quality control is done, which includes stress testing samples after the beams are planed to size and stacked for delivery.
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