The desire to extend and modify natural wood sizes and properties and the need to use manufacturing waste and residues and smaller and lower grade trees to produce more versatile and more consistent products has lead to a vast array of materials known as wood composites or reconstituted wood products. Wood composites can be broadly grouped into fibre products on one hand and solid wood composites on the other.
Fibre products include cardboard or pasteboard, low density fibreboard and medium density fibreboard (MDF) and hardboards (e.g. Masonite). In this class of product, wood is broken down to its individual constituent wood cells or fibres and is then reformed to the desired shape with or without pressure by re-establishing chemical bonding of lignin between the fibres with little or no added resin binder.
In solid wood composites, often referred to as particle boards, particles, chips, flakes, shavings and other reduced dimensions of whole wood are re-bonded using a resin adhesive. These materials are classified by particle type, by adhesive type, by density, and by strength. Uniform properties and reduced dimensional response are typical of these materials but increasingly they are being engineered for specific purposes. See Schniewind (1989) for further information.
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