New Zealand Logger - - News -

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.

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