The technique of wood processing has been around for several centuries. However, the only way to prepare wood for building material or furniture is by processing it with steam and compression. This leads to the material rebounding in some manner once they are shaped. Most materials existing today are artificial, mainly because natural materials cannot meet the characteristic needed to build strong structures.
A research team has recently developed a much more sustainable way of processing wood. For now, the team has demonstrated the new material's strength by creating sharp knives through it. They demonstrated that wood was around 23 times stiffer and three times sharper in comparison to ones made from stainless-steel dinner table knives. The study is highly relevant to the Wood Furniture Market as the team believes that the material would be applicable for building wood-based furniture that is much stronger and sustainable in the near future.
The study shows evidence that the knife can cut through a medium-well steak easily, with performance similar to a dinner table knife. Afterwards, the blade can also be washed and then reused, thus, making it a viable alternative against ceramic, steel, and disposable plastic knives. Once fully explored, the material could very well lead to the creation of hardwood flooring that is resistant to scratching and wear.
Further, the team also showed the novelty of the material by producing wooden nails, which were as sharp as traditional steel nails. In contrast to steel nails, wooden nails are also resistant to rust. Further, it should be noted that these wooden nails can easily support the hammering of three boards without damaging the nail.
However, the way wood is used today; barely meets its potential. The wood's main component is cellulose which consists of a higher ratio of strength to density than more artificial materials such as metals, polymer, and ceramics. Although wood is widely used in buildings, its strength generally falls in comparison to cellulose. This is because the wood contains only 40 to 50 percent cellulose, with the rest consisting of hemicellulose and lignin, which act as binders.
In the present study, the team's way of processing wood was unique. They looked towards removing the weaker components in the wood without destroying the cellulose skeleton. They created a two-step process. For the first step, they partially delignified the wood. Typically wood has a rigid character, but it becomes soft, squishy, and flexible once lignin is removed. In the last step, they hot-pressed the wood by applying heat and pressure to it.
The wood-hardening process presented by the team has immense potential since it can be more energy-efficient and reduce environmental impact. In every way, it is far better than the artificial materials that are currently used for manufacturing. Nonetheless, there is still a need for deeper investigation into the material's strengths before a conclusion can be made.
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