Prof dr andreas michanickl teaches at the faculty for wood technology and construction at the rosenheim university of applied sciences. the recognised expert in woodbased panel technology works intensively on new technologies for handling and processing wood-based materials. until april last year, he was a member of the supervisory board at Pfl eiderer. Interview: Guido Klinker
1. What is the current and future relevance of wood-based materials? Wood-based panels are already very important in the construction of buildings, furniture and interiors. The importance of wood-based panels, with their numerous positive qualities and versatility, will continue to grow. For some time now, the ‘value’ of wood and wood-based panels has once again been recognised by our society – particularly by political entities. The use of woodbased materials in construction has been constantly increasing for many years and the same applies to the construction of furniture and interiors. This trend will continue. I expect that the penetration of the market by wood-based materials will become even more pronounced in both areas. Along with new production and processing methods, the development of new wood-based materials and surfaces will also contribute to their increased importance of wood-based products.
2. Do you envisage that wood-based panels will have additional areas of application and if so, what might they be? Slowly but surely, our society is once again becoming aware of the many positive qualities of wood and wood-based panels. They are already used in many areas of which we are completely unaware or that we do not notice. Hardly anyone would associate wood-based materials with cars, gas tankers or transformers. In the future, however, we will see new manufacturing methods and, linked to these, new kinds of wood-based materials. These products will open up completely new areas of application. For example, for some time now we have been working with an interdisciplinary research group on the development of hybrid materials for a wide range of applications in vehicle construction, structural engineering, furniture construction and other consumer goods sectors. I think it’s a very exciting topic. It is all about developing lightweight, extremely durable composite materials that are made of wood and wood-based materials. Some of these materials have complex geometries and fi nished surfaces. New processes allow these products to be manufactured in an economical way that saves resources.
3. What is the best way for manufacturers of wood-based products to be prepared to meet the growing market requirements? The wood-based panels industry in Central Europe is in a good position and it is a green industry. It sets an example for the cascade use of raw materials. It recycles any waste wood or feeds it into modern combined heat and power plants in order to generate heat. This generates electricity, which is fed into the grid. In this way, it makes a signifi cant contribution to climate protection and to creating a closed-loop economy that is environmentally friendly, sustainable and that saves resources. It should do this with more confi dence and communicate it more assertively. Just like the material itself, manufacturers of wood-based materials should remain creative. Logistics, the procurement of raw materials, product development, energy and HR are important topics, both now and for the future. mastering these topics will allow companies to be part of shaping the future.