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14 / 09 / 2016
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How does

Bamboo board material made?

Bamboo is a renewable raw material that in recent years has become one of the main alternatives to tropical hardwood. When you see bamboo floors, kitchen cabinets or cutting boards, you may have wondered how round hollow bamboo stems are processed into solid bamboo panels?

First of all, it is important to know that solid bamboo panels can be divided into two main groups; 'laminated bambooand 'composite bamboo(or a combination of both). Semi-finished products similar to OSB, MDF, chipboard, plywood, wicker mat board etc. can also be made from bamboo fibres or bamboo chips, but panels composed of bamboo strips (laminate) or bamboo strands (composite) are by far the most widely used in Europe. This blog will explain how the common sheet material is made. You can see how composite is made in the next blog.

diameter of bamboo stem
How is Bamboo board material made? 22

Laminated Bamboo

Laminated bamboo panels are made of flat rectangular bamboo strips which are cut out of a bamboo stem. These strips or "slats" are then glued together horizontally or vertically. The terms "plain pressed" for horizontally glued strips and "side pressed" for vertically glued strips are often used.

bamboo plate construction
How is Bamboo board material made? 23

Because bamboo panels are made up of individual strips, they show less movement (shrinkage and swelling) than solid wood. However, the way bamboo panels are built up does affect the strength, flexibility and stability of the panel.

A 1-layer board, for example, will break more easily in width than a 3-layer or 5-layer board. A 5-layer board is also more stable than a 1-layer or 3-layer board and is therefore less likely to warp. As a general rule, the more layers, the more stable the board.

The layer structure is also important with regard to the appearance of a bamboo panel. With horizontally glued panels, the bamboo knots are very visible, which gives a unique appearance. For applications such as stairs, tables, kitchen worktops, cabinets, furniture panels, etc. where the side view is visible, a specific layer structure can also be important.

Step 1. Harvesting bamboo

Moso Bamboo or Phyllostachys edulis is the bamboo species par excellence for the production of board material. This Chinese giant bamboo is known as the hardest bamboo species in the world and grows to an average of 20 metres high and 10 cm in diameter.

A bamboo stem reaches its maximum height in just a few months and does not grow any taller or thicker thereafter. In the following four years, the fibres 'harden' and acquire excellent mechanical properties (hardness, strength, dimensional stability) comparable to hardwood.

In a bamboo plantation, mature trunks of 4-5 years old can be harvested every year while new shoots are constantly emerging from the ground. Bamboo is thus an inexhaustible raw material, unlike hardwood, which does not need to be replanted and often only matures after 50-100 years.

Step 2. Bamboo stem selection

For the production of plate material, bamboo stems are selected with an average diameter of 9 cm. These are then sawn into lengths of 250 cm.

Step 3. Splitting bamboo stems

The round bamboo stems are placed in a special machine that processes them into coarse bamboo slats. The bamboo poles are pushed through a metal "splitter" (blades in a star shape), where they split open completely.

Step 4. Planing bamboo slats

Coarse bamboo slats have a very irregular shape and structure after splitting. In order to remove the green outer skin and knot residue from the slats, they are planed straight by a special machine in the dimensions 22 x 6 mm.

Step 5. Cooking bamboo strips

To protect bamboo from insects and fungus, they are boiled for ± 7 hours & soaked in hydrogen peroxide. This treatment has the additional advantage that the bamboo strips fade and become nicely uniform in colour.

Step 6. Caramelising

Optionally, the bamboo strips are placed in a high-pressure tank for several hours to caramelise. The combination of heat and pressure releases the natural sugar in the bamboo that gives the strips their typical brown colour.

caramelising bamboo strips
How is Bamboo board material made? 24

Step 7. Drying and sanding

After boiling/caramelising the bamboo strips, they are put in a drying room for about 5 days until the strips have reached a moisture content of 8-10%. The strips are then sanded one last time to the dimensions 20 x 5 mm.

Step 8. Selection of bamboo strips

After the bamboo strips have been treated and dried, they are checked one last time for colour and quality before being processed into panels.

Step 9. Horizontally pressed

As previously mentioned, bamboo strips can be glued/pressed horizontally or vertically against each other. For a plain pressed panel, the bamboo strips are placed horizontally next to each other and glued. This creates a single-layer panel with a broad line pattern in which the characteristic bamboo knots are clearly visible.

Horizontally glued bamboo panels have a thickness of 5 mm. To make thicker panels, several layers are glued together, usually crosswise.

Step 10. Vertically pressed

In a side pressed panel, the bamboo strips are placed vertically next to each other and glued/pressed. This creates a single-layer panel with a fine line pattern in which the bamboo knots are almost invisible.

Vertically glued bamboo panels have a thickness of 20 mm. To make thicker panels or beams, several layers are glued together.

sawing thin bamboo sheets
How is Bamboo board material made? 25
vertically glued bamboo panels
How is Bamboo board material made? 26

Step 11. Sawing

To make vertically glued panels thinner, the 20 mm panels are placed on their side and passed through a band saw. These bamboo panels can be used to make all kinds of panels consisting of 3-5-7 or 9 layers.

sanding bamboo boards
How is Bamboo board material made? 27
bamboo sheets quality control edited
How is Bamboo board material made? 28

Step 12. Sanding bamboo boards

As a final step in the production process, the bamboo plates are passed through a sanding machine for a perfectly flat and smooth finish.

Step 13. Quality control

During packing, the bamboo plates are checked one last time for any defects.

Are you also interested in working with bamboo panels? Then order today your bamboo panels in our webshop!

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