Visual Inspection of Particle Boards for Quality Assessment

Visual Inspection of Particle Boards for Quality Assessment

Testing methods and quality control in particle board plants

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To ensure customers are getting exactly what they order, Timber Products  puts its wood products through layers of testing that gauges the material lives up to its promised performance. Each product and grade promise a certain level of strength, workability or other characteristics, and a solid quality control process is how we live up to this promise.

Each product undergoes a different set of testing. Particle board, for example, is tested for strength, hardness and flex, in accordance with ANSI standard A208.1, using the standard test methods outlined in ASTM D1037-12. On any given shift at the Medford, Ore., facility, there are at least two people trained to perform quality testing, explains Nick Brown, technical director for Timber Products. These tests ascertain that the particle board meets the expected properties of grade M1, M2 or M3.

First, the company’s quality control experts pull boards off the production line every two hours to perform a quick “hot” test for modulus of rupture (MOR) and internal bond (IB). MOR determines how much force it takes to break the material, while IB is a test of how much force it takes to pull the material apart.

Once the material is sanded and ready to ship, quality assurance technicians pull a sample to conduct a full test. This includes MOR and IB tests but may also have a modulus of elasticity test to see the level of flex the material presents. Other tests measure linear expansion, moisture content, hardness, and thickness for underlayment. Testing may run as long as four hours, with results ready in upwards of 24 hours.

The Medford facility houses several testing devices. For example, the Tinius Olsen testing machine loads measurements on flex and breaking points into a computerized database for analysis. An X-ray machine lets techs examine the density of the particle board and make determinations on where the peak densities are located. “That helps us with our sanding. We can make sure we’re hitting the peak densities, and not sanding off the high-density layer,” said Brown.

“The testing is all pretty hands-on,” Brown said. “Here at this plant, there’s somebody testing anytime we’re running.”

Quarterly, a representative from the Composite Panel Association (CPA), Timber Products’ third-party certifier, comes on-site to watch the testing to sign off on the quality of the quality control processes. The CPA is the final check to make sure that our particle board products meet all required regulations, here at home as well as internationally.

If there’s any material that doesn’t pass the test, it can either be downgraded (an M3 can become an M1 grade) or sent back to the beginning of the process, for a second chance at becoming particle board.


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