From: Timber Processing Staff

Capitalizing on the current interest in building large-scale wooden buildings and more multi-story wooden structures, longtime Oregon plywood and veneer producer Freres Lumber has introduced the “Mass Plywood Panel” (MPP), a veneer-based engineered wood product that’s been more than a year in development while being tested and refined in conjunction with Oregon State University.

Calling the MPP the “first veneer-based product of this size and scale that’s been proposed to the marketplace,” Freres Lumber Executive Vice President Rob Freres says the MPP development represents the kind of innovative investment required to differentiate the company, add value and stay on the leading edge of product development and new technology.

Freres Lumber is adding an MPP plant near its Lyons, Ore. veneer plant and its Mill City, Ore. plywood plant. The facility is starting with a scarfing line and test press in early 2017, with a building planned for completion by late third quarter and commercial production to begin by late 2017.

“This will allow us to test panels and gain certification,” Freres says, adding he believes MPP will qualify under LVL and CLT standards.

A week after announcing the new product, Freres reps displayed MPP at the North American Wholesale Lumber Assn.’s Trade Market trade show in Las Vegas in late October. In a blog post on Freres Lumber’s web site, plywood sales rep Bob Maeda noted an “overwhelming response” to the product.

He added that Freres officials had “great discussions with many industry experts about product opportunities” that include crane mats, large cross-laminated timber (CLT) -like floor panels, solid wall panels, concrete forming applications, solid structural columns, scaffold planking, long length scarfed panels, furniture applications and more. “We have had a lot to digest and think about, but the opportunities seem to be many, and that is the exciting part,” Maeda posted.

Freres says the MPPs can be produced in dimensions up to 12 ft. wide, 48 ft. long and 12 in. thick. He believes a veneer-based mass building panel is more appropriate than the lumber-based CLT mass panel because defects are more easily removed during veneer production, and early research shows MPPs may reach the same strength values as CLT but using 20%-30% less raw material.

In addition, he says, the veneer layup process gives the MPP more engineering flexibility when it comes to meeting customer needs. MPP’s relative lightness, plus the aesthetic aspects of veneer add to MPP’s competitive benefits, Freres believes.

Moving ahead, Freres says, “We’re going to be testing a lot of different combinations and veneer thicknesses.” He believes MPP will be able to match the properties that engineers, builders and architects are looking for but with less raw material.

“It’s really exciting,” Freres says. “We’re looking at a multitude of different types of products, and it’s really a way to diversify and not be so reliant on standard commodity products.”