Structurlam technology on cutting edge of wood market

World-class technological innovation in building products has reached another rung in British Columbia

World-class technological innovation in building products has reached another rung in British Columbia.

Structurlam Products, a structural wood product producer in B.C., has expanded its production facility in Okanagan Falls with a new building and machinery.

The expansion will allow Structurlam to further commercialize their Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) panels through the development of the EcoStructure Wall System.

“Wood has been enjoying a renaissance in the commercial construction market,” said Bill Downing, president, Structurlam Products. “Imagine a wooden wall panel that is lighter, stronger, and better-insulated than a comparable concrete wall. The EcoStructure Wall System is the next step in marrying sustainability, aesthetics and performance in a ready-to-install, cost- effective commercial wall.”

Structurlam has a long history of innovation while operating from plants in both Penticton and Okanagan Falls.

They were the first to use 3D modelling for design and the first to link 3D modelling to robotic fabrication. The CLT plant is one of only two in North America.

The EcoStructure wall is a completely assembled, solid wood wall panel that is designed to compete with concrete tilt-up walls in commercial construction. It combines CLT technology, high performance insulation and a natural cedar rain barrier.

The base component of the EcoStructure Wall System is the CLT panel.  CLT has been compared in strength to concrete — but is up to six times lighter.  Architects and engineers have recognized the advantages of building with CLT.

“Recent technological advances such as CLT have clearly repositioned wood as a hi-tech material, providing us with more design flexibility and more economical solutions than ever before.” said Eric Karsh, principal, Equilibrium Consulting Inc.

Transforming the raw CLT panel to the EcoStructure panel is made possible by the use of a new CNC panel-cutting robot — the Hundegger PBA.  This machine will cut, drill and notch massive CLT panels within a millimetre in accuracy.

The building required to house the new machine showcases the products made inside. It is a 10,000 square foot glulam and CLT structure. The roof is covered with five-ply CLT panels which span between the arches without the use intermediate beams.

The walls are three-ply CLT’s. The building is a tribute to the modern breakthroughs of building large structures with wood.

“Only CLT and mass timber panels can meet the quality, durability and strength demands for many building types that currently defer to steel, concrete or masonry”  said Michael Green of MGA Architecture.

Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas was at the Structurlam facility on Monday for the announcement. He said the new cross-laminated technology creates jobs, supports the B.C. forest industry and is more environmentally friendly.

“New trade agreements created by our government have also opened the doors for increased export activity, helping to create more jobs in other regions of British Columbia and increasing the overall economic benefit from forest product innovation,” said Albas.