Sawmills will soon be able to turn wood waste into high-value hardwood products, helping them increase profits at a difficult time. Company 3RT has partnered with Flinders University to develop a machine that cuts wood offcuts or softwood into strips, sticks them together, and presses them into blocks.
The aim is to increase hardwood supply sustainably, and create market opportunities for mills, that have been struggling with loss of access to native forests, labor shortages, and competition with cheaper imports.
3RT managing director Peter Torreele says the technology is in demand by the industry, and offers more sustainable and cheaper wood production. “The problem that people do not buy hardwood today, or not enough, is firstly, it’s becoming more and more scarce to get it, and secondly, it’s very expensive, so we are basically producing the same type of hardwood for a third of the price.”
He says the manufacturing unit, the first of which will be built in South Australia early next year, will cost between $3 million and $5 million. There is also nanotechnology available to make the wood resistant to things like fire.