Annual Report - 2010

The end of 2010 marked the completion of the fifth year of operations for the Oregon Wood Innovation Center. We continue to emphasize connections to assist Oregon wood products firms solve challenges and pursue new opportunities. We work to connect industry personnel with our resources and technical information, help connect buyers and sellers of Oregon forest products, and enable industry professionals to network with one another.

At the same time, we also continued our efforts focused on longer-term opportunities that will benefit the State’s forest cluster as a whole. We participated in a multi-agency effort to develop an economic development strategy for the State’s forest cluster.

Below are highlights of our activities and accomplishments in 2010, and brief details on where we are headed in the years ahead.

Fort VancouverFort Vancouver

2010 Outputs and Impacts

  • Websites - we continue to emphasize web-based tools such as the Oregon Forest Industry Directory (OFID) as a way to help connect buyers and sellers of Oregon forest products and services. For the fifth consecutive year, 'hits' to OFID doubled over the course of the year - from just over 400,000 in 2006 to over 10 million in 2010.
  • Courses/Workshops - we offered five courses - Selling Forest Products, How to Dry Lumber for Quality & Profit, Lumber QC/Lumber Quality Leadership(pdf), the 9th Wood Adhesion Short Course(pdf) and a customized 1½-day course on wood products manufacturing in the Klamath Basin for members of the Klamath Tribes. For the latter course, Randy Henry, forester for the Tribes stated that, “The project was a huge success… they [course participants] are now working as pro’s over in Ashland doing some good work."
  • Contract projects - dozens of contract projects were conducted to help Oregon firms solve problems and explore new products and new markets. The outcomes and impacts of some of these projects include:
    • 9Wood of Springfield, OR reports on the results of several projects at http://www.9wood.com/support/rd_reports.
    • Paint 'wrinkle' on MDF-pine composite doors - Fred Kamke helped an Oregon firm explain to its customer the differential shrink/swell behavior of solid wood vs.composite products. As a result, the firm was able to avoid a warranty claim for between $50,000 and $60,000.
    • Fred Kamke also helped an Oregon wood composite manufacturer by developing a system to detect and measure quantity of adhesive on wood fibers.
    • Connie Love inspected over 700 kingposts and fence pickets in the north wall of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site for signs of decay; she made recommendations for replacement of specific posts and/or pickets at the Fort.
    • Lech Muszynski, Jeff Morrell, and graduate research assistant Mike Burnard assisted an Oregon plywood firm develop and test laminated veneer lumber with an adhesive designed to be durable against insects and fungi.
    • Danny WayDavid Smith and undergraduate student Danny Way assisted an Oregon company by collecting and testing the fuel characteristics (BTUs and ash content) of several different categories of biomass that may be derived from the company’s timberlands.
    • David Smith, Fred Kamke, and Joe Karchesy conducted a study for an Oregon millwork firm to determine the root cause of discoloration of eucalyptus veneer on wood panels in-service.
    • David Smith and Fred Kamke were involved with another project as well related to staining in fire-rated panels. The sponsor firm stated "...we still have not conclusively identified the cause of the stain, but OSU helped eliminate causes. More importantly, I learned a great deal about stains and fire retardants in my several conversations with David that helped me to pursue other evidence in the case... This was a very large project for us so a successful resolution of the matter is key to our Company and its 150 employees."
    • Scott Leavengood assisted a firm that was experiencing warp in laminated products. A time-lapse video of the warp helped to show how rapidly the product responded to changes in relative humidity. The company personnel stated, "What was beneficial... was the time lapsed video showing the warp happening in just a few hours. That was a good tool to show the impact of MC [moisture content] to some of our customers - it just speaks for itself."
    • Mike Milota assisted an Oregon wood products firm by evaluating their dry kiln. By following his advice, the company was able to obtain 3 new major customers – these new customers distribute the firm’s products to nearly 400 retail outlets. Further, the increased sales resulted in the company increasing employment from 6 to 11 full time employees.
    • Scott Leavengood and grad students R.D. Mosier and Travis Roth assisted an Oregon hardwood plywood manufacturer with problems related to panel warp. A designed experiment was conducted to determine the combination of variables (type of adhesive, number of veneer plies, etc.) that would minimize warp. The company changed their practices based on the results of the project and reported that they had received no customer complaints about warp in the 6 months following the project.
    • Faculty in the Oregon Wood Innovation Center provided a wooden puzzle manufacturer with information on sources of supply for thin plywood. As a result, the company is now purchasing its materials from an Oregon hardwood plywood firm – a market worth $100K per year.
    • Faculty in the Oregon Wood Innovation Center also assisted a custom CNC machining firm experiencing warp following machining of composite panels. According to the company president, the technical assistance provided "...definitely helped us advance our knowledge of why we have had some of the problems that had been mysteries to us. This puts us more firmly on the path of being able to develop new lines of products..."

Work In Progress

We will continue to focus on both short-term problem-solving technical assistance as well as longer-term efforts to assist Oregon firms remain competitive in the global marketplace. Examples of 'work in progress' include:

  • Problem-solving research - several projects are currently underway including:
    • checking in maple veneer and panel warp in hardwood plywood
    • comparing dimensional stability of lumber from fire-killed Douglas-fir vs. lumber sawn from live trees
    • evaluating adhesives laminated purpleheart benches for exterior applications
    • bending strength and stiffness of thin plywood panels
    • wood properties and machinability of hybrid poplar of two different cultivars
    • evaluating impact strength of a wood/cork composite
    • optimizing the design of wood sunglasses
    • assessing color change and dimensional stability in ceiling panels
  • Biomass - a new biomass dryer is allowing us to explore different approaches to dry various types of biomass fuels; we also have new facilities to test BTU content of various forms of biomass fuel such as pellets, chips, hog fuel, etc.
  • Workshops & Webinars - new modules for the wood composite science distance education short course continue to be developed as is a new webinar series on hot topics impacting the forest industry; we've also developed a new conference to bring together forest industry, design professionals and structural engineers called StructureOregon.
  • Resources for innovators - the first edition in our new publication series Wood-based Entrepreneurs Toolkit is now available; publications on Communication, Public Relations are in review and a publication on Strategic Planning is nearly complete.
  • Green building - thanks to funding from the Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies research center (Oregon BEST) we are developing a Green Building Materials Laboratory on the OSU campus. This is a shared resource facility dedicated to the development and assessment of sustainable building materials.
  • Economic development strategy - our faculty continue to stay involved with the multi-agency effort to develop a long- term strategy for the state's forest cluster.