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lightweighting

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Resource Fix: A lightweight board

BASF and Swiss Krono Group have developed a lightweight board for furniture and interior construction that’s 30 percent lighter than typical particle board without sacrificing needed strength. The board not only saves on resources initially, but reduces resource use associated with shipping. It’s made from a polymer from BASF called Kaurit Light, combined with chipped wood and glue. It can be ground up and reused in new chipboard.

More interesting than the board itself is where it will be showcased next week - a special exhibit on lightweight materials at the timber and woodworking trade show Ligna. “lightweight.network” will include a number of advances in lightweight construction, particularly in the furniture industry. There’s also a parallel conference on lightweight panels, with talks on production methods, honeycomb construction, and other technologies.

We hear a lot about lightweighting in the auto and aviation industries, and now in wood products. It will be interesting to see where the idea will go next - what about applications in your industry?

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Resource Fix: Engineering for less weight

Mazda was in the news recently for announcing that it would not only shed weight in its next stable of models, but commit to dropping 220 pounds on each subsequent re-design of models. We’ve talked about the importance of lightweighting before, including the use of carbon fiber and other composite materials in the automotive and aerospace industries. Mazda’s also planning to use less steel by employing “more intelligently engineered structural bracing.” In other words, they’ll look for ways to retain needed strength and safety while using fewer materials. Meanwhile, with advanced high-strength steel, the steel industry is aiming to compete with new materials on the basis of weight. General Motors just invested in NanoSteel to help lightweight its cars. All of these efforts are aimed at reducing resource use while preserving or even enhancing functionality. There’s more than one way to get there.

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