Lasers used to modify wood

Materials World magazine
7 Nov 2017

Ellis Davies reports on a boost in funding to improve wood modification with lasers.

Fibre 7 UK, Millennium Lasers and Bangor and Coventry University has recently received £1.2 million in funding from Innovate UK for work in wood modification.

The collaboration includes laser and wood specialists and aims to improve permeability and processing of timbers during resin treatment. Resin treatment of wood is a growing platform of wood modification technologies that can alter the properties and service life of timber for use in demanding environments, as well as to enhance aesthetics.

The work will include making patterns of micro-incisions in the faces of wood prior to treatment to improve penetration of resin into wood pieces. This will allow a range of timber species to be modified, including from the UK. Lasers are able to drill fine holes, and with the appropriate pattern of incisions the team believes that an even distribution of fluid can be achieved to considerable depths.

‘This laser-drilling offers significant benefits for our wood treatment process increasing the range of timbers we can employ and the section sizes we can modify,’ said Andy Pitman, Fibre 7’s Technical Director. ‘The technology offers others needing to impregnate timbers with fluids, such as wood preservatives, an additional tool, since far less damage will be caused using lasers compared with mechanical incising meaning it can be used on joinery timbers’.