This week Smith and Wallwork attended a conference hosted by the Forest Products Research Institute at Napier University. The focus of the event was the findings from 2 years of research and testing of CLT panels made from UK Sitka Spruce.

A wide range of topics were covered by the speakers ranging from UK timber resource availability, saw milling, manufacturing techniques, engineering testing and market demand for CLT.

Andy Leitch of Forestry Commission Scotland outlined the current (1.7 million m3) and future potential (3.0 millon m3) of sawn wood production in the UK with approximately two thirds coming from Scotland. Andy’s point was a 50,000m3 CLT production plant could easily be supported by home grown timber.

Jack Hawker and David Crawford, past students and researchers at Napier explained the CLT panel production and testing undertaken. Despite our lower grade timber in the UK, CLT engineering properties were within 10-15% of current CLT production from mainland Europe. Perhaps the key challenge for the UK industry would be to achieve the 14% moisture content demanded by the CLT production process.

The day finished off with presentations from Prof Gerhard Schickhofer (TU Graz) and Karl-Heinz Weiss (TimberFirst). Both saw a bright future for CLT production in Europe (current supply 0.3 million m3 – 2015 supply 1.0 million m3). CLT use in the UK stood at 25,000m3 in 2011 and is projected to be 75,000m3 by 2020…hopefully by then with a significant element supplied by UK manufacturers?

Click here for a link to FPRI’s report on Sitka Spruce.