Investigation of the interrelations between defibration conditions, fiber size and medium-density fiberboard (MDF) properties
Defibration conditions and raw material properties affect wood fiber characteristics, and thereby the properties of fiber-based panels such as high-density fiberboard (HDF), medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and wood fiber insulation board. This study investigates the influence of steaming conditions (time and temperature), grinding disc distance, wood species (pine, beech, birch and poplar), method of refiner discharging (radial and tangential stock outlet) and wood chip size on fiber length and fiber length distribution, and further the influence of fiber size on MDF properties. Fiber lengths were determined applying the recently developed image analysis-based fiber size measuring system FibreCube. This system enables an automated and nearly complete mechanical separation of woolly-felted fiber samples prior to image acquisition, software-supported post-separation of overlapped-lying fibers at the beginning of image analysis, and flow line tracing-based length measurement. It was found that grinding disc distance and wood species are the most influential parameters on fiber length characteristics. Especially the content of undefibrated fiber bundles (shives) was found to strongly correlate with the grinding disc distance. Wood anatomical differences between hardwood and softwood were reflected clearly by the fiber length characteristics. Fiber size was found to be one of the parameters influencing panel properties. However, other fiber characteristics—in particular the chemical nature of the fiber, which is responsible for its wettability with water (thickness swelling) and glue (mechanical properties)—have to be considered as important influencing parameters on panel properties.
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