Keep the health of plywood

When the Indian Plywood Industries Research and Training Institute (IPIRTI), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Environment, was formed in 1964, the research and design department then would never have realised that in a short span of five decades its remarkable initiatives (associated with the development of plywood and panel industries) would bag nine patents on R & D innovations to be included in its achievement-kitty.

It also has more than 40 ideas (technology transfers) implemented in different government/private projects in India and abroad.

“We are basically mandated to carry out R & D, training and education, testing and standardisation and extension in the field of wood,” said B.N. Mohanty, Director, IPIRTI, on the occasion of its stepping into its Silver Jubilee year. “Today we are the only institute to offer a full-fledged 11-month post-graduate Diploma in Wood and Panel Products Technology (WPPT) with special reference to wood, plywood, allied products and adhesives.

From saw milling of plantation timber to dealing with plywood and particle boards and bamboo, the students are trained to know all the nitty-gritty associated with the manufacture and application of these products in the industry. The trained students – nearly 600 in 25 years – have all been placed in wood and panel industries across the country. This way we are directly catering to market demands where qualified professionals emerge to work in such industries,” he said.

Mr. Mohanty went on to explain that the technology carried out is directly field-tested in relevant industries for applications. With the responses collected and corrections brought in, the technology is then standardised and passed on to end-users in the industry to help meet practical demands.

New group of materials

S.K. Nath, Joint Director, IPIRTI, scientists K. Thanigai and D. Sujatha, who also addressed the meet said other panel products including lignocellulose as bamboo and other agri-residues have been regularly researched upon to be composites of our plywood products. “We have brought in timber-grade plywood and researched on quality veneers brought together for ply.

Eco-friendly wood plastic composite used in outdoor deck flooring; (right) the IPIRTI building

Eco-friendly wood plastic composite used in outdoor deck flooring; (right) the IPIRTI building

Rice-straw, wheat straw, coconut fibre, bagasse from sugarcane are used in panel products and roofing sheets as value additions,” said Mr. Nath. But the latest from IPIRTI seems an eye-opener as it has a lot to do for dealing with waste plastics. “Wood Plastic Composites (WPC) are a new group of materials that are generating interest in India and abroad,” he said.

WPC covers an extremely wide range of composite materials using plastics ranging from polypropylene to PVC as binders and fillers, and they substitute the first generation wood composites as recycled wood flour or chips. “The new WPC ‘wood composites’ have good mechanical properties and are tough enough and stable to produce complex shapes. They are produced by mixing wood flour and plastics to produce a material that can be processed just like plastic, making recycling a more meaningful exercise.”

IPIRTI’s ideology and themes are environment-friendly, says Mr. Mohanty. The Institute largely contemplates on utilisation of renewable material for making panel products. The entire wood industry takes guidance from the Institute’s energy auditing, carbon footprint involved in wood and bamboo-based panel products, he says. “The institute has developed processes for making composite boards from rice-husk, adhesive composition based on natural polyphenols, and ideas for development of matchsticks from bamboo and earned patents,” he adds.

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