DOST develops hot press machine for engineered bamboo
Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) - February 22, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Science and Technology-Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) has successfully developed a hot press machine that enables highly efficient, large-scale production of engineered bamboo.

Rico Cabangon, chief of the FPRDI’s Engineered Products and Development Section, said that the production time of an engineered bamboo was cut drastically from the previous six to eight hours, to just five minutes.

“There is an exponential increase in efficiency in engineered bamboo production,” Cabangon told The STAR.

Previously, Cabangon said that engineered bamboo makers, all micro,small to medium enterprises (MSMEs), used the traditional cold process that is basically just room temperature or “ambient” pressing.

“In an ambient pressing of bamboo boards, it took six to eight hours,” he said.

This lengthy and tedious process, Cabangon said, was blamed for the low production of engineered bamboo boards despite a high demand for them as it was mandated by Executive Order 879 issued by former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that 25 percent or one-fourth of all desks and furniture in public schools be made of the material. 

“That’s a demand for P250 million worth of engineered bamboo (for school desks and armchairs) that can’t be supplied because of lack of supply,” Cabangon said.

Engineered bamboo is produced by binding together fibers, particles, strips or slats of bamboo with the right adhesive. Used worldwide to make attractive panels, floors, furniture and handicraft, it is often stronger and less prone to warping than equivalent solid wood.

In the Philippines, about 10 companies make engineered bamboo products on a small scale, according to the FPRDI.

Engineer Edward Paul Marasigan, also of the institute, said that the hot press machine was available at a low price.

“The machine can be operated using both electricity and charcoal as heat source, and makes boards with the same quality regardless of heat source and type of glue used. Fabrication cost is around P150,000, comparable to the price of the cold press available in the market,” Marasigan said.

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