Cross Laminated Timber – a product with (almost) a global presence

14th November 2018

A mainstream product in Europe, CLT continues its advance outside the Old Continent with either new or up-scaled capacities recently announced globally (EU, Americas, Russia, Asia and Oceania).

Over the years, the European CLT manufacturing sector went through a “standard” technological evolution until they reached the current second-generation phase with efficient speedy hydraulic presses complemented by smart design and CNC manufacturing.

Some of the other global capacities being developed are already benefiting from the newest available technologies. This is resulting in more flexible solutions, lower equipment costs and smaller barriers to entry. The shift from the first-generation hydraulic presses to the newer vacuum presses are providing benefits for smaller manufacturers, the ones that are new entrants in the markets. The new manufacturing solutions are delivering simpler, lighter equipment (with smaller required foundation/base) able to produce a multitude of different CLT panel types. These manufacturers are targeting a different market section than the timber high rise building sector.

CLT manufacturing equipment evolution or revolution?

Opinions differ, however, the fact that this is an emerging market with dynamic changes in building codes, consumer preferences and technological solutions is not disputed. Looking ahead, the way producers decide to enter this segment will likely differ. Focus can range from large production capacities and speed of production, to customisation, low-cost equipment and a larger variety of CLT specs – there’s no single formula for success.

A variety of CLT equipment producers are leading the industry development – examples include Wiening (concept System solutions), Ledinek (NexGen production Line), Minda Industrieanlagen, Kalesoe Machinery, Springer, Biesse, USNR, Mixon and others.

For example, Ledinek – one of leaders delivering full CLT solutions announced that their X-Press and complete CLT production lines are now installed in Finland, Australia (Fig. 2), Japan, Austria, France, Sweden, Norway, US with other lines being discussed in Asia. Noticeably, only Africa is missing from their list of installed CLT production lines (however XLAM South Africa is producing CLT on the African continent).

New announced investments in Russia or Asia are faced with a range of equipment and production line solutions. Decisions are driven by market and product entry considerations.