Annual Report 2011

The end of 2011 marked the completion of the sixth 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.

Below are highlights of our activities and accomplishments in 2011 and brief details on where we are headed in the years ahead.

2011 Outputs and Impacts

  • Contract projects - numerous 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:
    • Dimensional stability of fire-killed Douglas-fir vs. green Douglas-fir - Ryan Palma with Sustainable Lumber Company reported that, "...your research was very helpful. We have been passing on the results to all our customers. We also decided to build a kiln after receiving your final results... and now we have 12 guys manufacturing flooring, doors, and cabinets for us."
    • Color change and dimensional stability of edge-glued panels - Jonathan Gates, with 9Wood, Inc.'s R&D department, stated that the project was very helpful to them in demonstrating due diligence to the customer. For example, one shipment of panels arrived at the customer's facility with a significant amount of 'blushing' (cloudy discoloration of the finish). 9Wood, Inc. was able to respond specifically and scientifically to the customers’ detailed questions and concerns about performance. As such, they were able to maintain good customer relations by demonstrating they had 'done their homework' with respect to how varying temperature and humidity conditions affected the surface appearance and dimensional stability of the panels. As Jonathan stated, "Being able to show the customer that we have tested our product with a reputable third party is huge for making the sale and keeping customers satisfied."
    • Market Assessments - leaders of the Oregon Woodland Cooperative state they have used the report we provided in several ways:  "through you we were able to hire Louis Leatherman... he was the one who actually contacted New Seasons and began the firewood program for us.  Last year we grossed over $35,000 in bundled wood sales. We are on track to double our 2011 sales and other store chains are beginning to look hard at our products."  "..we have found that your report - particularly the section on value-added wood (i.e. furniture and cabinetry) has given us better perspectives on this area of potential income. Our current partnership with Northwoods Figured Woods (producing and marketing burls, turning blocks, figured lumber, etc) certainly reflects the influence of your involvement. The sections on sort yards, small/portable mills, and combinations of the two have been very useful in helping us sort through the options for not only log/lumber marketing, but also for other products such as firewood.... you inspired us to innovate!"
    • Improving the exterior performance of LVL - Lech Muszynski, Jeff Morrell, and graduate research assistant Mike Burnard assisted an Oregon plywood firm develop and test laminated veneer lumber (LVL) bonded with an adhesive designed to provide resistance to insects and fungi.  This innovative approach is an alternative to pressure treating LVL with water-borne chemicals.  As of early 2012, the new product has been sold in export markets for over a year.
    • Using acoustical properties to sort lumber - One of our undergraduate students, Danny Way, had a summer internship with Hampton Affiliates in Randle, WA.  Danny measured the acoustical properties of hundreds of green hemlock 2x4s and sought to determine if grade loss due to warp was related to acoustical properties.  The bottom line was that he was trying to help the company find a quick and cost-effective way to sort lumber for drying.  You can see him talk about his experience in a You Tube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7tQasTPy9U
    • Other projects conducted this year included evaluating dimensional stability of particleboard, assessing the fuel quality characteristics of biomass (for 8 companies), testing the impact resistance of wood/cork composites for an innovative consumer product (stay tuned...), assessing the bending strength and stiffness of thin panels, testing the exterior durability of a wide variety of adhesives for a dense tropical hardwood, optimizing the design of wood sunglasses, measurement of density and bending strength of a tropical hardwood, and examination of blue stain in pine slicing blanks for veneer.

Work In Progress

We also 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:
    • Evaluating the wood quality of plantation-grown poplar
    • Assessing the best combination of process variables to minimize checking in maple plywood
    • Testing wet strength of several adhesives for exterior laminated pine products
    • Measuring the dimensional stability of bamboo flooring
    • We are hiring a new Faculty Research Assistant to coordinate undergraduate student workers to conduct these projects
  • 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.  Last but not least, our faculty are playing a key role in the research and outreach teams related to the multi-year Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) project
  • 'There's an app for that' - We're working on a smart phone app of our wood shrink/swell calculator
  • 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
  • Resources for innovators - the first two editions in our new publication series Wood-based Entrepreneurs Toolkit are now available: Strategic Marketing and Communicating Effectively with Your Customers, a publication on Public Relations is nearly complete, and another publication on Strategic Planning is in-progress.