How is Particle Board Made?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

Particle board has been in use since the 1940s, often used in place of the more expensive plywood as subflooring or instead of natural hardwoods in furniture manufacturing. At one point in its history, however, this material was considered an expensive designer board, reserved for use in exclusive homes and upscale furniture factories. Modern particle board is now made primarily by combining discarded wood shavings, chips and sawdust with a strong resin and pressing the mixture into serviceable boards and planks.

A person cutting particle board.
A person cutting particle board.

The process of making this material begins with real wood. Most manufacturers use waste wood products collected from commercial woodworking factories, although some virgin wood may be used as well. All of this recycled wood fiber and sawdust is stored in large containers before being processed into boards.

A person putting a nail into particle board.
A person putting a nail into particle board.

The wood bits are usually dried, then sorted to eliminate overly large or small pieces. Once this mechanical sorting has been completed, the acceptable wood fibers move by conveyor belt to a blending hopper. Along the way, several overhead nozzles spray the wood fibers with a strong liquid resin or glue. Several different forms of resin may be used, depending on the specific quality of particle board desired. Historically, formaldehyde-based resins were most common, although in recent years many manufacturers in the US have moved to low-emission resins or those that do not contain any formaldehyde.

Melamine covered particle board.
Melamine covered particle board.

The resin-soaked wood is then blended to form a consistent paste. This combination is piped into a forming machine, which presses out a sheet of uncured particle board. The formed panels are then pressed down for easier transportation to the final curing ovens. Individual sheets are held under pressure as the air around them is superheated. This allows the resin to harden and form a very strong bond with the wood fibers.

Some forms of particle board are left in this rough state for use in flooring and other projects in which the panels will not be visible. In situations in which the appearance of the product is a concern, thin strips of real wood, called veneers, may be added to the surface of the board. Furniture manufacturers often use veneer-covered particle board as a cheaper alternative to natural hardwoods. Many assemble-it-yourself desks and other home furnishings may also be made from veneered particle board.

Some furniture manufactures use particle board covered with veneer instead of natural hardwoods.
Some furniture manufactures use particle board covered with veneer instead of natural hardwoods.
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments

anon256492

Do you have to press it down firmly? What with if you do?

anon168244

anyone have info about raw board handling?

spagarwal

Please may i know how particle boards are made, and where to get machinery and the price for the machinery? what will be the financial outlay for a small scale particle board manufacturing?

gtsk12

what are the starting processes for a plant project?

anon150516

Sawdust is abundant in our state,so can you tell me the project cost for setting up a cottage industry and where to get the equipment in India, if possible.

anon132724

Does anyone know the life span of these boards if they were stored in a proper storage area?

anon130266

i want to know how particle board is made. i want to start a particle board manufacturing unit. i need to know all the processes, machinery and all details.

anon106808

Please may i know how particle boards are made, and where to get machinery and the price for the machinery. I understand they are made from sawdust which is in abundance in my area.

anon88633

i want to start a business in particle board so how much investment is there and where do i get a machine.

anon73483

what will be the financial outlay for a small scale particle board manufacturing?

anon59795

Pressure is about 300 bars.

anon57446

impressed by your description of particle board making but where and how much will it cost to start on a small scale?

anon44054

What is better? M.D.F. or particle board.

anon35334

is it possible to produce particle board on a small scale

anon14040

please help..really important where can i find a machine that can compress the wood chips?

anon1785

1. do you think it is possible to produce particle board on a small scale?

2. Is a resin "cola"?

3. How much is the pressure on the board pressed?

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