SHAW’S WIRE ROPES IRON TEST
Few, if any, contractors will have gone to the lengths that Steven Stokes did in order to get the machine he wanted for one of his crews working next to Woodhill Forest, which resulted in him taking up the New Zealand distributorship of a new brand – Eltec, from Canada. The first Eltec to come to New Zealand, a 417 model, is designed especially for this market and the NZ Logger
Iron Test team has just completed its assessment.
IF STEEL CAN BE COMMERCIALLY CUT with powerful lasers then it would seem only a matter of time before they are used for cutting wood in sawmills, right? Maybe.
This question was bandied about at the WoodTECH 2018 conference in Rotorua and the answer is not clear cut.
Lasers are already being used to cut thin wood strips, as well as for engraving, decorating or making inlays in the surface, but it is not commercially viable to cut timber over 10mm thick. However, the fact that it creates a very clean, smooth cut and leaves behind no sawdust to speak of, has encouraged research projects aimed at trying to make it happen.
Experiments have been taking place in Europe and the US with laser wood-cutting of thick timber profiles and the results appear promising…..until you look at the time taken for the laser beam to slice through the timber. It’s far slower than a sharp steel saw.
But when commercial laser wood-cutting technology finally becomes available, some in the industry will be more-than ready, including those who make scanners that also use laser technology (but to see into the wood, not cut it).
Swedish scanner manufacturer, WoodEye AB, has already identified opportunities afforded by a laser wood-cutter.
WoodEye’s CEO, Leif Erlandsson, and CSO (Chief Standards Officer), Stefan Nilsson, told the conference that with fixed saw blades taken out of the equation it would be possible for “free cutting” to take place on the line, where boards do not need to be aligned behind each other. This is because a laser cutting head could move freely across the wood without needing to follow a saw kerf, allowing for more versatility on the saw line.
They have been monitoring laser cutting development but say that it is still unlikely to be seen in a commercial situation for another five or six years, if not longer, adding: “Laser wood cutting is still in the development phase, but when it does become quick enough we can further optimise operations.
A powerful laser beam can cut cleanly through wood but takes much longer than a steel saw blade.