Not all engineered boards – such as OSB (Oriented Strand Board) – are the same and it is no surprise that many people don’t fully understand the difference or more importantly, where the ‘engineering’ fits in.
A big hint is in the first part of the name: ‘oriented’.
Unlike plywood, which is built up from thin layers of wood veneer, OSB consists of individual strands and flakes of wood.
These are bonded and specifically arranged in a three-tier structure, with the strands in the outer layers oriented in the same direction as the panel length, and those in the core layer at right angles to it.
The result is a solid panel with no core gaps that will not delaminate under normal use.
This structure gives OSB a great deal of strength, which means it can be used in a broad range of applications – everything from furniture to house construction.
In short, the flakes are positioned on purpose and therefore the panels are engineered. However, not all engineered boards meet the same high standard.
Customer driven innovation
OSB is an ideal solution for flooring, roofing and timber frame sheathing applications.
However, following feedback from customers, Smartply OSB has moved to an even higher plane of quality, design and innovation. The result is the flattest, smoothest most accurate form yet.
To meet the requirement for a high-quality board which can be used for an even greater variety of applications, the new panel is now rolling off the assembly lines in the widest range of sizes and thicknesses, with widespread availability leading to minimal lead times.
Stuart Devoil, Smartply Marketing Manager, said: “Customers have been quick to react to our new Smartply with universally positive feedback. Its strict dimensional tolerance and outstanding surface have received particular comment.”
The board’s consistency is due to the latest continuous press technology used in its production.
This powerful process involves raw materials being transported via conveyor belt between precision milled, highly-accurate rollers and guides, guaranteeing the consistency that customers demanded.
The cutting-edge machinery also enables huge flexibility in dimensions, allowing an even broader range of lengths, widths and thicknesses.
The new Smartply OSB panel has already captured the imagination of those involved in the timber frame industry where building elements such as flooring and wall sheathing require products to align perfectly and sit flush with adjacent panels.
Whilst proven to be consistently level and accurate, the board has also been lauded for its environmentally-friendly credentials.
As with all the panels in the range, the new product is manufactured from a sustainable Irish forest resource in an energy-efficient process, giving it a lower carbon footprint than most types of plywood.
The new smoother finish and consistent size of the board is already proving to be a benefit when the product is used in ranges such as Smartply Siteprotect and Toughply, where panels are pre-primed to speed installation of site hoardings or security screens.
“The finish has always been very good, but when the coating is applied to this new surface, it sets unrivalled standards,” said Stuart Devoil.
“With more and more emphasis being put on the aesthetics of site hoardings for prestige developments, the quality of the installed final product is paramount.
“The face of this new product means the final hoarding acts as the perfect substrate for high quality vinyl graphics, printed images or a painted finish.”
Customer comes first
The broader range of sizes available means it can now be applied to a wider range of markets. “Understanding customer requirements is key to the way we innovate,” explains Stuart.
“The result of this listening and understanding is a board that is flatter, smoother and manufactured to within tighter tolerances than ever before – it delivers every physical improvement our customers challenged us to meet.”
Meeting the changing needs of the industry
With the increase in capacity from the new plant and a wealth of technology and expert knowledge to hand, the scope for product innovation is seemingly limitless.
But each modification will be the result of a long, careful planning and testing process involving some of the most informed, technical minds in the industry.
Stuart Devoil said: “We’re really excited about the new board and the improvements it brings. Even more exciting is that our customers have reacted in the same way.
“When you hand someone a sample and the first words out of their mouth are ‘Oh, wow’, you know you’ve done a good job. We’ve listened and we’ve delivered just what they asked for.”