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CIB-W18 Växjö 2012



Christophe Sigrist1

ABSTRACT: The quality and strength of glue laminated timber (GL) depend on many parameters: strength class of
individual boards composing GL, strength of finger joints, face gluing of the laminates and on the production process
itself. The product ranges from industrial, homogeneous low strength glulam from visually graded timber to high
strength glulam using inhomogeneous layups formed by machine graded timber. Various models to estimate glulam
strength [1],[2] have been developed for visually and mechanically graded timber. The standard prEN 14080 under
development regulates the properties and minimal production requirements for glulam. The strength properties for GL
are lowered on one side and the requirements regarding the strength of the boards and the finger joints are increased on
the other side. The research presented here deals with the strength properties of GL produced from visually graded
timber (maximum GL28) as SME in Switzerland are not in the position of acquiring the expensive installations to
machine grade the timber. In order to optimise the flow of material, to carry out the adequate grading process at the
right moment, the saw millers and the producers of GL work out a common process along the production line in order
to become more competitive on the market. To date about 1000 boards have been assessed visually and by mechanical
grading tools and tested. 30 full size glulam beams (22 produced from visual graded timber only) have been tested so
far. The results will be verified by computer models at KIT in order to support the actual requirements regarding board
and GL properties.

KEYWORDS: Strength and stiffness of GL, visual grading, board properties, test results

1 INTRODUCTION 123 methods to determine the density of the timber were

The project develops an integral production method for The strength properties of glulam primarily depend on
glulam and is based on a close collaboration within the the strength properties of the boards to be used and the
timber processing industry. The goal is to reduce grading coefficient of variation of these properties. The
and production costs, to optimise the utilisation of the combined results and conclusions by Schickhofer [4]
resource and to guarantee the strength and stiffness from investigations on glulam over the last decades in
properties of both the individual boards used for the Europe are presented in principle in the Figure below.
production of glulam and the final product. The focus
lies on visual grading methods. Pre-grading the resource
into two lots of timber considering “heart in” or “free of
heart” material or applying established appearance 32
Biegefestigkeit Biegeträger [N/mm 2]

grades as “industry” and “normal” should ease the 30

grading operation in the glulam factory. A focused and
simple grading for the saw miller and the glulam 28

producer must be determined. All investigations are visuell

backed up using several non destructive, machine
grading systems in order to find out if the visual
(pre)grading could eventually be improved by the usage 22

of simple, low cost and efficient grading tools. All major 20

sawmills, glulam producers from Switzerland and three
producers of grading chains from Europe are involved in
10 12 14 16 18 20 22
the project. Zugfestigkeit Lamelle [N/mm 2]


Figure 1: Simplified representation of strength models for
Investigations by Gloss [3] have indicated that the GL from visually (blue) and mechanically (red) graded
separation of “heart in” material and side boards leads to timber (tensile strength of boards on abscise, bending
a better utilisation of the timber properties. Based on strength of glulam on ordinate)
these results grading chains using a balance or other
Visually graded timber presents a higher coefficient of
Christophe Sigrist, Bern University of Applied Sciences, variation (35% +/- 5%) than mechanically graded timber
Architecture, Wood and Civil Engineering BFH-AHB, (25% +/- 5%). Also visually graded timber is generally
Solothurnstrasse 102, P.O.Box, CH-2500 Biel-Bienne 6, sorted into a smaller number of grades as if mechanical
Email: grading is applied. As the visual grading is less precise
both low and high quality bards will be found within an
C. Sigrist 1 15/02/2012
attributed stress grade. Due to this effect boards with  The strength class of at least C30 can be achieved
lower strength properties in tension (ft,k ≈ 16-17 N/mm2) after elimination all lateral knots, however recovery
compared to mechanically stress graded timber (ft,k ≈ 19- is quite small
20 N/mm2) could be used to obtain a desired strength for  It is generally difficult to achieve C24 as low
a glulam beam. The simplified graph shows the example density boards can not be identified easily.
for GL28 with a characteristic target bending strength of
fm,k = 28 N/mm2. The higher system effect on material 3.2 BENDING PROPERTIES OF GL24 AND GL28
showing higher variation further increases this effect. Various producers fabricated beams (160 mm / 600 mm /
These results are of particular interest to SME producing L=12 m) in GL24h, GL24c and GL28c using boards
GL who generally process smaller amounts of timber with identical properties to the board sample that was
than the large, industrial counterparts. As grading of tested in tension. Marking the boards by RFID allowed
timber represents an important and costly step it would to trace back the original properties of the boards and to
be ideal to divide the timber in two to or maximum three draw relevant conclusions relating to the grading
grades in the saw mill. The efficiency of the grading efficiency.
depends on the interaction between the different
processing industries.

Based on earlier research [5] the goal is to obtain a
grading method in order to achieve the required
properties for the material to be used to produce GL
according prEN 14080. The current investigation focuses
on visually graded C24 and C30 timber. Before sawing
the centre part of the logs was marked in colour in view
of distinguishing properties form “heart in” material and
side boards and to study the effect of sawing patterns and
log diameters / provenance. The results from visual Figure 3: Bending test on full scale GL beams
grading according to DIN 4074, grading using simple
mechanical grading tools and a sophisticated grading Mostly excellent results were obtained from these tests,
chain were compared to an empirical separation of sawn ultimate bending strengths for GL28c ranging from
bards into “normal” and “industrial” grades carried out at 25,3 N/mm2 to 47.0 N/mm2 were obtained. The clearly
the sawmill. The following results have been obtained so distinct average bending strength of GL24 is situated
far: around 30.0 N/mm2. The GL fulfils the requirements
 Large differences between various log diameters / regarding the required average stiffness.
provenance were observed
 No usable difference of strength properties between
“heart in” and “free of heart” material was observed 4 CONCLUSIONS
 Slightly higher MOE for sideboards compared to The failures at low stresses (2x in GL24, 1x in GL28) in
“heart in” material was obtained the more or less defect free tension zone are still under
 The original sorting by the sawmill (appearance) investigation tracing back the properties of the single
seems to be quite efficient and successful indicating boards in the laminates in question. Tension tests on
better properties for boards classified as “normal” parent board samples are currently carried out to confirm
the board strengths. The investigations will be extended
to all remaining industry partners involved leading to
statistically significant data. The findings will finally be
no lateral knots / spike verified by modelling and will be relevant for prEN
knots allowed 14080.

The research is carried out thanks to funding from KTI /
CTI, Switzerland, Project Nr. 9843.1 PFES-ES.

[1] Blaß H.J., Frese M., Glos P., Denzler J.K.,
Linsenmann P., Ranta-Maunus A. (2008).
Reliability of spruce glulam - modelling the
Figure 2: Grading rules for C30+ characteristic bending strength, research report KIT,
[2] Frese M., Hunger F., Blaß H. Glos P. (2009).
Verifikation von Festigkeitsmodellen für die
Brettschichtholz-Biegefestigkeit, Eur. J. Wood Prod.
[3] Glos P., Pahler A. (2005). Chances of lumber
quality grading. Proc. of 5th COST Action E40
Conference on “Large diameter timber - problem or
chance?” HSB Biel, Switzerland, pp 29-33
[4] Brandner R., Schickhofer G. (2007). Bearing model
for glued laminated timber in bending – new aspects
concerning modeling. COST E55 Workshop - Graz.
(2007), S. 1 - 31
[5] Sigrist C., Engels I. (2004). Zugfestigkeit von BSH-
Lamellen. Kontrolle der Wirksamkeit der visuellen
Sortierung zur Erzeugung von BSH gemäss Entwurf
SIA 265: Holzbau, Forschungsbericht Buwal