Fundamental Aspects of Wood Deformation Pertaining To Manufacture of Wood-Based Composites


  • Michael P. Wolcott
  • Frederick A. Kamke
  • David A. Dillard


Viscoelasticity, cellular metering, free volume, composites pressing


During processing, wood-based composites are pressed using extreme heat and pressure for varying lengths of time. Evidence exists that the environmental conditions under which the wood densifies can alter the properties of both the solid wood and the composite product. Given the larger number and extreme nature of variables that exist during composite manufacture, it is imperative that the deformation process be understood from a fundamental standpoint. The objective of this research was to determine the applicability of basic materials engineering theory to the viscoelastic deformation of wood in transverse compression under a variety of temperatures and moisture contents.

Theories of cellular solids were used to model the nonlinear compression behavior of small wood elements. For low-density woods, it was determined that cellular collapse can result from elastic buckling of the cell wall. The dependence of inelastic behavior of the gross wood on the elastic properties of the cell wall allows the time, temperature, and moisture dependence to be modeled with classical linear viscoelastic theory of amorphous polymers. Time-temperature-moisture superposition was shown to be applicable to stress relaxation data collected for temperatures between 39 and 99 C and moisture contents between 3 and 16%. The shift factors derived were described using free volume and entropy-based equations. This research demonstrates that wood behaves similarly under those conditions to the general class of cellular amorphous polymers. This conclusion opens many possibilities for experimentally and mathematically modeling the pressing of wood-based composites.


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Research Contributions