In FY 2017 and 2018, the College of Forestry and the TallWood Design Institute helped bring an exciting new engineered wood product to market: the mass plywood panel (MPP).

Freres Lumber Company of Lyons, Oregon, introduced the new-to-market, veneer-based product.

It’s something Tyler and Kyle Freres have been dreaming about since a 2015 trip to Austria.

“We visited a few facilities that were producing cross-laminated timber (CLT) really efficiently, and we felt we could achieve the same kind of product with veneer,” Freres says.

As soon as they returned to Lyons, they started gluing panels together. He says that working with Oregon State University has helped his company refine the product.

Arijit Sinha, associate professor of renewable materials at Oregon State, led the testing.

“During phase one testing, we helped Freres identify the layup pattern they wanted to use,” Sinha says. “And during phase two we tested an optimized layup at different thicknesses that they eventually took to market in 2018.”

Phase two included bending tests to characterize the strength and stiffness of the product. Later, connections,  performance acoustics characteristics, and shear wall application of the product will be tested.

MPP, like CLT, can be used as a substitute for traditional building materials.

The college is committed to working with industry partners like Freres to promote mass timber solutions.

“We are devoted to seeking out innovative partners like Freres Lumber and D.R. Johnson, who want to create sustainable solutions that improve our forest landscapes and ecosystems while also creating economic vitality,” says Interim Dean Anthony S. Davis. Freres says the advantages of MPP are that is uses 20-30 percent less wood than CLT; large format panels can be manufactured at the production facility to minimize waste and labor on job sites; and the light weight of the panels can help save on transportation costs and logistics during construction.

“We are a good example of a family business working within our rural community to come up with something new and innovative,” Freres says. “It’s also been great to have the experts and the researchers at Oregon State working with us on this project. We have a very close relationship, and appreciate all the extra hands involved in producing MPP.”

A version of this story appeared in the spring 2019 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about our renewable materials program here.

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